Steven Furtick - How The Enemy Tricks You Into Giving Up
This is an excerpt from: Delayed Praise
You can be free, but not by this Friday. You can be healed from a broken heart, but not in the next hour, not by the time I say, "Amen". So, if the Devil can't trick you into thinking it's never going to happen, he'll tell you it's going to happen so quickly that when it doesn't happen that quickly, you give up on it. So now he has two tools. Discouragement. "You're never going to change. It's never going to be. It'll never happen for you". If that doesn't work, and you believe God, then he will use a delay to try to get you to believe you were crazy to think that God could do that thing in your life. We studied last week how David went crazy. Remember? He had to go to Philistine territory to escape from Saul. That's the king of his own nation. That's the one who should have been mentoring him. That's the one who should have been showing David, "This is how you do it. This is how we handle pressure. This is how we stand up under it".
Instead, Saul spends seven years throwing spears at David. "Hey, David, great news: you're going to be a king. Bad news: seven years of caves, hiding from the king who should be helping you". Seven years between the anointing ("You're going to be king") and the crowning where Saul dies and David actually is. That space in your life is where trust is required. Nothing else will do. Talent won't fill it, because sometimes your talent is great but your development process is still underway. Intelligence won't fix it, because there are some things you're not smart enough to know about. Nobody is. Nobody calls certain things we go through.
So, no matter how meticulous you are in managing your life and your time, there are certain spaces only God can fill, and that's why I trust him: because I sought the Lord. If David were singing this in real time… "I sought the Lord, and then Saul tried to kill me. I sought the Lord, and then Saul tried to kill me. I sought the Lord…" He is writing that stuff, but he's not writing while it's happening. He's looking back on that. Now he's teaching me and he's teaching you how to trust God. I wonder if God is teaching you to trust him right now so that you will be saying that, speaking that, and passing that down maybe even to your own children. "This is how we trust him. This is how we do it". Thank you, Montell. I've got all kinds of psalms for you all today. I've got psalms from the 90s. I've got psalms from the BCs. I've got psalms everywhere.
Now, write down the word reflection somewhere. I think many of us underestimate the power of healthy reflection for our soul's growth, and I think the Enemy… I don't like to talk about him this much in the sermon, but he messes with you so much I want to call him out. I think he wants to get you so busy you never do it. If every second of your life is sucked out by distracting yourself from what you feel, and you never process it with God, but instead you scroll through what somebody else wants you to think they feel… If every second is sucked out of your life, you can't reflect, and if you don't reflect, you can't be really blessed. You can actually be blessed from God's perspective but not feel blessed from your perspective, because you never learned to reflect. Psalm 34 is teaching me how to reflect. "O taste and see that the Lord is good".
Now that's interesting, because he mentions at least two different senses. Remember, David is writing this psalm after great personal pain from a perspective of purpose to teach us how to process our own seasons of delay. One of the things he does is use sensory images because he's a brilliant lyricist. He's talking about "Taste and see that the Lord is good". Then he also says, "Magnify the Lord with me". So, we have a visual sense of sight (magnify), and we have a chemical sense of taste. I think both are telling us the same thing. It is the value of our experience filtered through a healthy reflection process. Let me explain. Have you ever had somebody in a restaurant go, "Oh! This is terrible. Taste it"? She does that to me all the time. "Oh! You've got to taste this. This is so bad. Oh, taste this". "What am I, your cupbearer? I'm not Nehemiah. I'm not tasting your poison. It tastes terrible to you".
There's something about it. It tastes so bad she just wants somebody else to have to be in it with her. Misery loves company. Right? So, there's this thing David is saying. He's like, "I know the bitterness of wondering if you are really going to see a breakthrough in your life or if you are just believing it for nothing. I know the ashes of defeat when everything you love has been burned to the ground. I know the taste of the isolation of the cave". But I want you to taste something else by decision as you face this delay. The Enemy tries to fill that space, that seven-year space… I don't mean seven years literally. It could be longer, it could be shorter, but it's long. It's long when you're living it.
Some stuff you go back and talk about it, and you can say in a sentence what took you seven years to learn in real life, but when you're living in it, it feels different. That's why the benefit of distance is so great. Not only does he say, "Taste and see that the Lord is good". He also says, "O magnify the Lord with me". To magnify something is not to make it bigger. Magnification doesn't change the size of the object. Magnification is the process whereby you get your perspective about what was there all along. I don't know about you, but that's why I come to church. I need help sometimes magnifying the Lord. What I magnify in my life I get more of.
So, if I sit around with stingy, miserable people all week… Don't look at them right now while I'm preaching. Look straight ahead. If I sit around having low-level conversations; broken-down conversations; hateful conversations; stupid, ignorant conversations; surface-level conversations all week that never really push past all the stuff about what's going on and the Illuminati and the price of gas… If I never get past that, I can't see what's there in my life. "O magnify the Lord with me". BYOB. Bring your own binoculars. You're not making God bigger. You're just making yourself more focused to realize that for every reason the Devil can give you to doubt God, I can give you 10 to trust him. Do you want me to prove it? Lift your hands. How many fingers are you lifting up right now? That's 10 reasons right there to bless him, exalt him, and worship him. Blessed be God forever.
Now clap those same hands. Put those 10 fingers together. There's somebody watching me who lost a pinkie. Okay, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four… I bless the Lord. I magnify him. I taste him. I experience him. The value of personal experience is worthless if not reflected upon in the light of God's goodness. I'm not just saying, "Keep a gratitude journal". Do that. I have all kinds of little gratitude tricks. Abbey and I made one up on tour. It's the best thing ever she showed me, and I taught it on my YouTube channel. You can go there and see it. It's about a grateful heart is a stable heart. I'm not just saying that. I'm actually saying things turn into blessings as you reflect on them in time. "I will bless the Lord at all times".
Does that mean I'm going to walk down the road singing "Jireh" this week? Does that mean I'm going to be in a meeting, and they're going to be asking about the spreadsheet, and I'll be like, "I don't know about the spreadsheet, but my God is sovereign. He's holy. He's righteous. He's pure. I bless him at all times". It's like, "You can do that on your own time. This is company time. We are doing a meeting. Submit the budget". We're not turning this beautiful psalm into some weird excuse for us to live in this other reality. It actually is the way we bring God's faithfulness into this moment for the fights you're dealing with and for the future you're uncertain about. It's a beautiful thing. It is a decision you make to praise God, to glorify him, to speak about the things in your life that you want to see more of, to speak about the things in your life that God has given you.
There's nothing wrong with admitting the things you wish were different and getting help with them, but stop elevating your request to people who are not supervisors. "What do you think I should tell my husband"? She's not married. Even if she is, she is not married to your husband. She can only take you so far. These conversations get really cyclical…sick-lical. In the process of that, if you don't bring God into it… I'm talking about delayed praise, and I'm going to get back to that in just a moment, but for now I want you to remember this about David. When he wrote Psalm 34, he was through it. When he was living it… This may give you permission to struggle a little bit. That's why I called it Ugly Trust.
Let me get out of the King James back over to the NIV so you can see what's going on in 1 Samuel 27:1. "But David thought to himself, 'One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul.'" Does that sound like a guy who's confident in God's promise? But it's seven years. Seven years is long enough to whittle away at your worship. He thought to himself, "One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do…" The next best thing. "I don't like what I have to do right now. I don't like where life has me. I don't like this situation, but the best thing I can do, because I don't know what else to do…the next best thing, the one thing I can do… God has to handle the next thing after that, because I can only focus on one thing right now, because I don't really know about all this, because it freaks me out when I try to think too far out".
"The best thing I can do is escape to the land of the Philistines". Those are the enemies. "Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand". David did that, and for 16 months he lived amongst his enemies. For 16 months, he lived amongst the enemies he would eventually defeat when he became king. Hold that. Hold that for a moment. Go back to the very first part of that verse. "David thought to himself…" "I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise will continually be in my mouth". He thought to himself, "I'm going to die". But watch this. He said, "My soul will make its boast in the Lord".
What's your soul? Your soul is not your mouth. Your soul is not what your eyes see. Your soul is your mind, your will, and your emotions. He said, "My soul will boast in the Lord," but we know his mind was telling him, "You're going to die. You're not going to get through this. This is it for you. He's going to kill you for real this time. This is the end of the line. This is where it stops. This is where the fantasy ends. Yeah, that was cute when Samuel anointed you when you were a little boy. Samuel is dead now". "Yeah, that was cute when you saw your family back together and happy again, but it's not going to happen now. This is the one".
They used to have a show when I was little called Sanford and Son. He would always say, "This is the big one, Elizabeth. I'm coming to join you, Elizabeth". (What is up with all my outdated pop culture references today? Pray for me.) David is having a moment. "This is it. He's going to kill me. This is it. There's nothing else I can do. This is the end. This is it. This one is going to take me down. This is it". He thought that to himself, but he said, "My soul is going to boast in the Lord, and his praise will be in my mouth".
So, his mind is saying one thing. "Saul is going to kill you". But his soul is going to say another thing. "I will bless the Lord at all times, and his praise will continually be in my mouth". The mouth is going to say, "God is good". The mouth is going to say, "God is great". My mouth is going to say, "What God promised he will accomplish". My mouth is going to say, "But he's faithful, and he has proven that". What I'm trying to give you is this simple principle: not everything that goes through your mind needs to come out of your mouth.