Steven Furtick - You Need To Stop Focusing On The Past
This is an excerpt from: My Future Is My Focus
Everything God wants to do next in your life is connected to what he is calling you to do now. It took Joseph's attitude in the prison to interpret someone else's dreams while he himself was still in a dungeon to bring him to the place where he could be everything God called him to be, and not just for himself, but for others. Some of the things you're fighting with are not for you. They are for your children. "I don't have children yet". No, I'm not talking about your view of things. I'm talking about God's view of things. He already sees them at 6'2" and you're only 16.
That's how God works. He says, "I have plans to give you a hope and a future". When we say, "But God…" I just think about how this needs to operate in my life. The church now is not what it was before the pandemic, but God brought people into our church through the pandemic who would have never even gone to church if there were not a pandemic. If you just let the Enemy attack you, attack you, and you don't learn to interrupt him, it just strengthens the chain. It becomes bondage. Your belief becomes your bondage. That was Joseph's belief. "God is using this for good, and everything I went through that wasn't good…" I don't know if you've ever heard a preacher say, "God will work it out". That's cool. Let me give you one better. God will work it in. Whatever happens to you, God will work it in.
One time I was preaching about the woman who worshiped Jesus, and I was talking about how she poured it on his feet, how she poured the oil on his feet to anoint him, and how everybody thought it was a waste. I was preaching so hard. It was only about 150 people in the room, not even this many who are here with the staff today. It was about 150 people in the room, but I was preaching so hard, because I don't just preach big when the crowd is big. I don't just do it big when a lot of people are watching. I never did. Ask Holly. I don't do everything right, but I've always been passionate about this. I used to travel to tiny little churches, tiny little crowds, and the first place we would stop was Walmart. We'd go to the Walmart in that town, and I would buy a mirror for $5.97 out of my pocket, because they didn't pay for it out of the ministry fund at the college ministry team we were interning with. So, we would go to the Walmart. I knew exactly what aisle I could find the mirror on. I would get the mirror, and I'd stand up and preach to those kids.
I had a hammer in the van, and I'd start preaching about the image of God. I'd hold up the mirror, and then I'd get really condemnation oriented, and I'd take the mirror and start smashing the mirror. I did it all the way until a kid got a piece of mirror in his eye and the parents almost sued me, but I prayed, and the Lord is faithful. You need to stop waiting for it to discover what God has put in you. If you don't have it in the prison, you won't have it in the palace. I was preaching. It was a worship night. I was flailing my arms, and my water fell over. I was so embarrassed. My water falls and spills, and it totally broke the flow of my message. Until I realized, "Don't cry over spilt water. Work it in". Since I happened to be preaching about the woman who poured out her oil, the image kind of fit, because it was fluid. If you stay fluid like that… You have to be fluid in those moments.
All of a sudden, I said, "Just like that water hit that ground, and y'all are all wondering if I did it on purpose, some of the things in your life that you're wondering, 'Is this on purpose…?' You have to turn it to worship. Other people will see it as a waste, but you have to turn it into worship". Y'all, when I say that was better than any illustration I ever could have planned… Because I worked it in. Joseph's message to you today is not "God will work it out. The future is your focus. God will do it later. God will send it when you need it". No, no, no. He said it is what is now being done…this season of your life, this moment of your marriage, this moment of your ministry, this moment of your business, this moment in your heart, this moment where you're deciding, "Am I going to go see a counselor or not? Am I going to work through this or not? Am I going to keep repeating these same powerless patterns or am I going to take my power back"?
You say, "I don't have power. God has power". Right. And in Acts 1:8 he said, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you". You give your power away every time you stay focused on what happened. Genesis 50:20: "You intended to harm me…" You can change the past this way. "You intended to harm me". Let me break this down. I hope this makes sense. You can change the meaning of that by what you put after it. Put the letters O-N-Y. What comes after that? Now you will be reminded of the New Testament companion verse of Genesis 50:20. "All things work together…" What's harmony? It's when I take one note and take another note, and it's not the same note, but when I put them together… Do you hear this? You have to let God bring this thing together, because it's what comes after the attack…
Let me tell you what Jacob said about Joseph. He said, "He is a fruitful vine who climbed over a wall". He climbed over a wall. I wonder what wall you think is stopping God from doing what he's doing in your life right now. "He's a fruitful vine who climbed over a wall". So, question: Are you going to be defined by what stood against you or how you got over it? I'll tell you something right now. I want to find out what's on the other side of the wall. People don't put up walls unless they're concerned about something on the other side. So, whatever the Devil has been fighting you with, I just wonder… Why is he so threatened and worried about you getting through it? What's on the other side is what I want to find out. For Joseph, he saved a whole nation. He preserved his entire family in posterity. I wonder what's on the other side of your wall.
Now, we probably wouldn't have called Joseph a vine by our definitions, because we live in the days where everybody gets a trophy. Everybody gets a ribbon. "Oh, I'm so sorry you didn't get what you wanted. You didn't get your seat. You didn't get your opportunity. You didn't get to serve where you wanted to serve. You didn't get the feedback you wanted. Nobody told you it was good". If we would have been Jacob, think of how we would have spoken to Joseph. He's going through their lives, and he's defining their lives as their father, and he's saying some things to each of them. In Genesis 49:22, he gets to Joseph. "You rawboned donkey. You snake by the road". Talking to all of the other brothers.
He gets to Joseph, and he's like, "Joseph is a vine". But I thought he was a victim. His father called him a vine. But he was a victim. But he was a vine. But he was a victim. What made him a vine was what he climbed over and what he brought forth. He's not just any vine; he's a fruitful vine. Tell somebody, "I've got something to give. No, I'm not just surviving for me. I've got something special. I've got something to give. It will be the fruit of what I've been through that will preserve my purpose". You're sitting next to a fruitful vine. Wow! Look at that fruit. He's not just a vine. He doesn't just talk about a wall, and he doesn't even describe the wall. I love it. He doesn't even care. What kind of wall? It doesn't matter. It matters more what the vine was made of than what the wall was made of.
Listen. This is the meaning of a fruitful vine. Because you are abiding in Christ, because you are choosing and deciding to focus on what he is doing…not what you have been through, but what you are bringing forth… That's how you interrupt it with a but. "Wow, that was horrible, but God was there with us". Did you ever watch somebody die, and it was horrible, but there was a grace that was almost more real than the air you breathed, and you almost feel sorry for the people who weren't there because of the grace that grew from the grief of that moment? That's what I mean by interrupting it with a but. So that you don't stay chained to the way things went down, so you don't stay chained to what other people called you. The only reason Joseph was able to do what he did in chapter 50 is because of what his father said in Genesis 49. You have to hear it firsthand from your Father. Some of you didn't have an earthly father who told you this, so now God is speaking this over you. "You're more than a conqueror. You're an overcomer. Greater is he that is in you than the wall that is in the world".
Climb or die. If you turn around the first wall you see, the first rejection you get, the first no you hear, the first relapse… He said Joseph climbed over stuff that would have killed others. By the way, it's almost impossible to climb over something while you're complaining about it. Get it out of your system. Tell who you need to tell, but then start climbing, and start bringing forth what you're supposed to bring forth. "Show me what you are doing through this that is for the benefit of others". Paul said he comforts us with the comfort by which others may be comforted. That's a generational way of thinking about your faith. Now, faith is a fight. It's a fight for focus. You're not fighting against people. You're not fighting against Reuben and Simeon. You're fighting for your focus, and it's the fight of your life. How can God bring it into harmony if you die on the vine? He said he's a vine climbing over a wall. Isn't that a great picture? A fruitful vine. "You rawboned donkey. You snake by the road. You fruitful vine".