Steven Furtick - God's Trying To Bless You
This is an excerpt from: Barriers to Blessings
How many want God to do a new thing in your life? I'm setting you up. Be careful if you raise your hand. I'm just warning you. I think that's a real challenge. I think sometimes when God is trying to bless us… I can use scriptural examples. The early church was so used to the law that when the writer of Hebrews began to break it down, and he said, "In times past, God has spoken through the prophets. He gave us the law through Moses, and now he's speaking through his Son…"
One of the reasons the Hebrew people had such a difficult time and they needed to be brought forth or led into something new is because our brains have a way… They've studied this now in science, not only with Sheryl Crow songs but also with any habit that happens in your life. We know now that your brain actually creates highways. That's not a technical term. Over the next seven seconds I'm going to tell you everything I know about brain science. It won't take me long. I do know your brain forms connections. Once you've done something a certain way a certain number of times your brain just locks it in, and anything that doesn't feel familiar like that starts to feel frustrating.
That's why some of the things you do in your life that you don't even like the results of are so difficult to undo. You've established a way of doing things. We even say that. "Well, that's just the way he is". What are we saying? We're talking about his neural pathways. We don't call it neural pathways, because our friends would look at us funny, so we say, "That's just the way he is". Well, that's not just the way he is. It's the way his brain has been trained or the way her brain has been trained. (I don't want to be sexist about it. Women have issues in habitual addictions too.)
Touch somebody and say, "Change your ways". No shouting over that. Excuse me for a moment. I'm just trying to reconcile the fact that when I read my Scripture, "See, I am doing a new thing!" it felt exciting, but then when we actually begin to discuss what it means… God says, "Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland". In other words, God is saying to a people who have been exiled into Babylonian captivity, "I'm trying to bless you. I've been trying to bless you. All your life I've been trying to bless you. All your life I've been trying to release what you need. All your life I've been trying to give you what is in me. I've been trying to flow through you and to you".
God is trying to bless you. Isaiah speaks up, because the people of Israel have been, by their behaviors, blocking the blessing of God. I called this message Barriers to Blessings. Just like there are blessings… I mean real blessings, not just cars and houses. Those are fine. Not just pools and boyfriends, although if you get one of those or both of those I'll celebrate with you. Far beyond that, God wants to bless you at the very state of your being. That's what he said to Abraham. "You will be a blessing. Not just you will be blessed, but everybody you touch, talk to, even look at will be blessed just because they got in proximity to you".
That's the promise. That's why God brought his people forth: so they would be blessed. The reason he wanted them to be blessed is so they could be a blessing. That's what we're talking about in this series. Sometimes we experience… Here's the term in business terminology. Any business owners in the house? I need to know who to pray for, because it is not easy to lead an organization. If you started your business, raise your hand. See, that takes a lot of courage, because every business has barriers to entry. That's the technical term. It's start-up costs, government regulations, knowledge that you may not have that existing competitors already have. So even to think about starting a business should make you a little nauseous, because there are barriers to entry.
One thing that has changed in our modern age is that in regard to creativity and content there are so many different ways to distribute content it's no longer like it was. It's not like the old days. In the old days, you had to have a record label to put out an album. You had to have a lot of money to book studio time. Well, now, if you have the right software and a SoundCloud, you can just put your stuff out. If it's any good, maybe it will get somebody's attention. I mean, if you really consistently… I'm not saying it's easier, because now there are, more than ever, many different people and many different entities vying for attention, but what has happened is the barrier to entry has really been broken down.
Now the barrier to entry is no longer, "Do you have enough money to make an album"? or "Do you have somebody who will help you make an album"? It's "Are you any good, and are you consistent enough that you will put out enough stuff until you connect with your audience"? I kind of feel like that's what we're trying to understand here in Isaiah 43 and Hebrews 6, although these Scriptures are separated by about seven centuries of time. I think God is trying to get us to see that the barriers that were before us to keep us from experiencing his blessing are no longer there. I'm talking about shame that was dealt with at the cross. I'm talking about your weakness that can actually become strength. I'm talking about the mistakes of your past that you relive in your mind over and over again. I'm saying God has dealt with that, defeated death, defeated the grave, taken your shame.
How many want to thank God that the barrier has already been broken? Just receive it right now. Since you couldn't get to God, God came down to you, wrapped himself up, looking like a little infant, but really he was infinite, coming through the eons, coming through the ages, coming through eternity. Can I preach like the barrier is broken? As a matter of fact, when I even look out over our church, I see a lot of barriers broken. I see people who shouldn't even be in church together praising God right beside each other like we have the same baptism, the same faith, the same birth, the same hope. It gets me excited.
Now if the essence of the gospel is that God breaks barriers and that he broke every barrier, even the righteous requirements of the law, which were fully met in him, so that you might be fully found in him, so that nothing could separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus your Lord, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation… When Paul wanted to say it, he said it like that. Etcetera. None of it can keep me from the love and the blessing of God except my unbelief. All of that can be true, but if you don't believe it's true, it won't be true for you. Even if you shout about it, but when you go home you really don't think God is doing a new thing, you will stay stuck in what was. I don't envy Isaiah. He was a much better preacher than I will ever be, to say the least. Even the fact that I would say that feels arrogant. You know that.
Let me tell you how good Isaiah was at his job. He's called the "eagle-eyed prophet," because he was prophesying stuff he wouldn't even live to see. He was preaching the sermons the people would need for something they weren't even going through yet that he would never even go through. So God would download what they would need. God knew his people would worship these other gods, even though the God of heaven had promised to a man called Abraham, who was the father of their faith, "I will bless you, and you will be a blessing, and there will never be a time that you will not be blessed. Not only will you be blessed but all peoples of the earth will be blessed through you. All of them. I'm not just doing this for one nation, one people group".
The heart of God has always been that all of us would be blessed, that every barrier would be broken down. Not just in one zip code, not just one ethnicity, not just one denomination, but that all people would be blessed through those who are called by his name. That's the promise. Here's the problem. You notice that they always hang out together. The problem is that the people of God blocked not only their own blessing but the blessing they were created to distribute to the earth through their unbelief in the true and living God. Isaiah knows this, and he knows there will be a time when they will live in captivity, in bondage.
Blessed people can still live in bondage…mentally, emotionally. They weren't imprisoned in physical cells. They were taken away into a Babylonian land where a lot of their life really wasn't that bad. It wasn't that they lacked physically. It was just that they were in an unfamiliar, strange place away from the place God had called them. Usually, when we think of the opposite of blessing we think the situation would be really bad. It wasn't really the situation that got bad for these people Isaiah is writing to. It was the state of their souls. The situation wasn't that terrible, but the state of their souls was very dry, very destitute, and very desperate.
Into that situation, Isaiah speaks forth a promise from God. He says to the people who are not yet in captivity, but they will be… He's giving them what they need for what they're going to go through that they don't know about yet. That's why you need to take notes in church even if you don't think it's for you right now. "I'm not a parent". But you never know when you might get one of those little puppies. You might need the manual. "What did he say four years ago"? He has a difficult task, because he's speaking to a future they don't experience yet, so maybe they're not listening.
Watch what he does. I want to back up a few verses. Go to verse 15. He reminds them who he is. "I am the Lord, your Holy One…" Isaiah is only a mouthpiece. He is not the message; he is the mouthpiece of the message. "I am the Lord, your Holy One…" That's a cool thing, that unholy people could claim a personal relationship with a holy God because the barrier has been broken. If Isaiah could talk like that and Jesus hasn't even lived yet, how can we talk about our relationship with God living on this side of the cross? I'm broken, but I belong to one whose name is exalted, whose name is holy, and in the center of unbroken praise. "I am the Lord. You belong to me".