Steven Furtick - Cover The Spread
Holly already announced everything, so I don't have to do it. I can just get straight to the Word. I preached a message last week called Challenge the Shadow. That message was about how we don't just accept the natural pattern of things because we are people of faith. So, when the Enemy says, "You're going down," you don't go down without a fight. That's what God gave you your faith for. That message is online. Now you can take that message and put it together with this message, because I am going back to the life of Hezekiah to bring you what we might sort of call a preaching prequel to show you something else that happened in his life. I like to do this. I was telling my oldest son this week… By the way, hey, everybody online. I love to take the Bible and make sure we get the historical context of what was happening, but not leave the Bible in the historical context but make it helpful for your life. That's something I really believe in.
One of my seminary professors who trained me told us that our job isn't to apply the Bible to people's lives; it's just to teach them what happened in the Bible. I couldn't disagree with that more. People are going through too much hell for me to preach that way. Come on. Just to give you a lesson about something that happened 3,000 years ago and, "Hey, have a good week. Hope the custody battle goes okay. Hope you don't die. Hope you make it back to next Sunday, and I'll give you another history lesson". I can't do that. It's not in my heart to do that. That's not how God wired me. So, when I come to the Scriptures, I'm always asking a couple of questions. "What happened here?" and then "What's happening in the lives of those you've called me to help, Lord"? So, that's kind of how I pray.
Now, this week, we're coming to an issue in 2 Kings, chapter 19, in the life of King Hezekiah where… Last week, he almost died. The prophet said, "You're going to die," and he was like, "Wait! I've got more to do". The Lord was like, "All right. You get 15 more years," and he flipped a shadow around to show him what he was capable of. Around the same time in his life, just before that happened… I want to show you something that happened, and then I want to talk to you about some things that are going on in your life too.
In 2 Kings, chapter 19, verse 14, the Bible says, "Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: 'Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.'" And God answers him. Skip all the way down to verse 34 so you can see in action what God said.
Actually, I like verse 32 too much to skip it, so go to verse 32. "Therefore this is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria [Hezekiah's enemy]: 'He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here. He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it. By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city, declares the Lord. I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.'" Watch this. Verse 35: "That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian [enemy] camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib [the enemy] king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew". I bet he did after that. One hundred eighty-five thousand of your soldiers dead will make you go home. So, the Lord told me to give you a message from that story today, and we'll talk about it. He said to tell you this: God is going to cover the spread. Anybody receive that by faith? Like, even not knowing who Sennacherib is yet, but you receive it by faith that God is going to cover the spread.
Lord, your Word never returns void. Whoever it's for, God, shoot it straight into their heart. May it go down deep, deeper than disappointment, defeat, discouragement, or despair. Give your people faith to believe that you are still in the way-making business. In Jesus' name, amen.
He's going to do it. He's going to cover the spread. This message is called Cover the Spread. Last week was Challenge the Shadow; this week is Cover the Spread. I'm so glad we sang that song "Make a Way". That went so well with this message. It's like the Holy Spirit wanted it all to just go right there together so you could get it. There's a line in that song I really love that says, "Because you are God, no matter the odds, the outcome is always the same". So, we win. We don't know when, but we win. God is going to cover the spread. How many of you know that term cover the spread from the sports-betting world? Lord, we pray for these sinners, these hell-bound Philistines, these uncircumcised Philistines, betting on sports.
As far as I know… Not by experience, but I just asked ChatGPT. It said cover the spread means… I bet one time on a basketball game, the only time I ever bet on sports, and I lost $300. I bet on the Oklahoma City Thunder because my friend Pastor Craig Groeschel lives there, and I thought he had a strong enough anointing to pull me through. I lost the money, so I don't do it anymore. But cover the spread… Maybe you've heard it before, but maybe you're too holy to know what it means. When they make the odds in Vegas, then one team is favored by, say, seven points… If that team that's favored by seven points wins, but they don't win by more than seven points, then they didn't cover the spread. Somebody who bet on the other team can win their bet even though that team lost because the team that was favored to win by seven points didn't cover the spread.
So, the game can be completely over, but somebody is sitting there praying that the team they bet on doesn't lose by more than 21 points or 28 points, whatever the spread is. So, that's the term in the betting world, but this is Sunday morning, and this is not the betting world; this is the Bible world. I would like to suggest to you that the term has a completely different relevance for your life as it did for Hezekiah's. If you are a betting man, you are betting against Israel in this particular predicament. Not only are they up against the fiercest dude who has ever occupied the throne of Assyria named Sennacherib… (Anybody pregnant, looking for a baby name? Sennacherib. Not taken. Your kid will be the only one. You're welcome.)
When this guy would take his enemies to send a message to everybody else, he would often not only hang them from trees but he would flay their skin and hang their skin from the trees. That's the kind of guy we're talking about here in 2 Kings 19, just to give you the picture. Not only to mention that, but he was a trash talker who made Conor McGregor look like Mister Rogers, if you follow MMA. (I'm using all of the worldly analogies just to hook the people in today.) He is occupying the throne of the fiercest kingdom that has already taken the northern part of Israel. If you've studied the Old Testament even a little bit, you'll remember that the kingdom was divided. Well, that has already happened. The northern part of the kingdom, those 10 tribes, have already been taken away into captivity.
So, now Sennacherib is coming for Hezekiah who is a good king. I told you last week he was a good king. He followed God. He trusted God. Now Sennacherib is sending some messages to Hezekiah, going, "You're next". Hezekiah is like, "No, please, Uncle Daddy. What do you want me to say? Don't do it to me. Just leave us alone. We've seen what you're capable of. We know you're undefeated, undisputed, and we don't want it with Sennacherib. So, what do you want? Do you want some gold"? Hezekiah starts stripping the gold off the doorposts of the temple. That's how bad it was. It would have to be bad for you to take the temple where God lives and start taking stuff off of the doorposts of the house of God to get your enemy to go away. When the enemy messes with you enough, you will start stripping very valuable things and giving away parts of yourself that are very, very important just to get him to leave you alone.
The problem with this is Sennacherib is insatiable. It's not like you just give him a little bit of gold and he goes away. You give him an inch, he takes a kilometer. (It's a worldwide ministry.) So, now Sennacherib is coming back, talking about, "You know what? I know you have an alliance with Egypt". In fact, he sends these field commanders, these messengers, to Hezekiah's messengers, and they meet up at this aqueduct that's going into this field. They're gathering around, trying to figure out, "Is he going to leave us alone? Is he going to take us too? Are we next? Is he going to completely decimate us? Is he going to knock down the whole temple? Are we going to have to keep stripping stuff and shipping it away? Are we next to go, like our neighbors to the north? What's going to happen? We know Sennacherib is absolutely unbeatable".
So, the field commanders start speaking about what Sennacherib can do, and they're saying stuff like, "You're going to end up eating your own excrement and drinking your own urine". It's in the Bible they say that. They recorded… I can't imagine what they didn't put in the Bible that these boys said. Hezekiah hears that, and he knows the odds are against him being able to defend himself against Sennacherib. So, he tears his clothes, which is a sign of mourning, humility, and repentance. He begins to seek God about it, but nothing seems to change. So, after he seeks God for a little while, he hooks up with the king of Egypt, and he's like, "Will you help me fight this guy"? The king of Egypt is like, "All right".
Well, Sennacherib hears about that, and he's like, "It still doesn't matter because I'm Sennacherib. Have you heard of me? Have you seen what I've done to all of the other nations"? He sends a letter to Hezekiah, and he asks him a question in the letter. "Will God really deliver you"? That's what was in the letter. In the letter he lists all of the other kings he has defeated who tried to stand up against him. He says, "None of those nations were able to be saved. What makes you think you're any different? Where are the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah"? He puts all that in the letter.
Now, when you get to verse 14, I want you to understand this picture that God gave me. It said when Hezekiah got this letter, which would have been on papyrus on a scroll, you know, like letters were back in the day… When he received the letter (verse 14) from Sennacherib, he ripped it up and said, "No weapon formed against me will prosper". Put the Scripture back up, because I want you to see that's not what he did at all. I feel like there are some people who are listening to me preach today, and you are carrying a letter of your own that was sent by an enemy into church today. I can't see it, and it's not on papyrus, but some of us have what I would like to call emotional scrolls that we carried into church with us today. It's rolled up so no one can see it. It's tucked away. Not a letter that was written by human hands, perhaps, but a letter that is written in your heart, the words of the Enemy that he has spoken.
Sennacherib loves to get in your head. How many of you tend to be, a lot of times, in your head too much? The reason those of us who are in our heads too much are in our heads so much is because of all of the people who are in their heads too little. Somebody has to think for y'all or we're never going to get these bills paid. Holly is so good for me because I'm in my head all the time. She's in the moment. Take that however you want. I'm not saying I'm smarter. She's so good for me, though. This used to annoy me in our marriage. You know how they say, "In marriage opposites attract, and then after marriage opposites attack"? It used to make me so mad. I'd be telling her something so deep, like, "If he watches over every sparrow…" I would think she wasn't listening. I was like, "What are you thinking about"? She was like, "The grocery list".
But I liked eating, so I was glad she was thinking about something kind of practical while I was thinking about something ethereal, abstract, and spiritual, because I don't want to fast. Our marriage, in many ways, has been a merger of her style of processing and my style of processing. I'm in my head a lot, and she's really good to get me out of my head. I was on the brink of meltdown four years ago with some stressful stuff that was happening with the ministry, and she goes, "I know what we're going to do. We're going to go for a walk". When she said, "I know what we're going to do," I thought she was going to give me the solution. This was a complicated situation. I'm like, "Walk"? She goes, "Yes, as people do. It's not that deep. We're going to walk. You're going to feel better". And she was right.
When I'm in my head, the problem I'm considering seems completely unsolvable. When I'm in my head, it appears to me that I have no assistance available. When I'm in my head, every text message somebody sends me has a secret, covert, malicious intent to it. "Why did they say it like that? Why did they use a comma? Why is there no period? Why does that emoji have drool coming down its mouth"? Now that is weird. I should look into that. You start reading into everything when you're in your head. "Oh man. Why did they say it like that? Why did they look at me like that"? They weren't looking at you. It's completely ridiculous for you to think that everybody in that video game called your life is an NPC and you're the main character. Yet we do that when we get in our heads.
Have you been stuck in your head this week? Is that what has been happening in your life that God took me all the way back thousands of years before you were even born, before you even got into this battle you're in, before you even started feeling these symptoms in your body, before you even started feeling this stress that has you completely wound up and unable to deal with your life… Is that why God had me studying about a king who, thousands of years ago, before you and I were ever even a thought, before you and I were ever even a shimmer in our mama and daddy's eyes… Before you and I were ever even a part of this planet, this king named Hezekiah gave us a pattern for what to do when the Enemy tries to get in your head.
Aren't you glad for the strategy of God? Honestly, I need a strategy. I need to know how to do battle in my brain. I need to know what to do when what I believe about God is telling me one thing and what I see in my life is saying another. I need to know how to respond to Sennacherib. I have my own Sennacheribs, and they send me letters. They are my personal fears. They are not yours. My fears speak differently than your fears. My devil is custom designed to defeat me according to my weaknesses and my strengths, and so is yours. So, the challenging thing for me today is that I know what this Bible says, but I don't know what your letter says.
I know what this Word says about what God is and who God is and what he can do and what faith is (the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen) and what his Word is (the everlasting seed which produces change). I know what his Word says. I don't know exactly what your letter says. I don't know if your letter is something real that you're going through and it really is a diagnosis or if it really is just something you're imagining that hasn't happened yet. I don't know if your letter is something that's going on in your industry, your company, or something going on in that corporation called your family. You know that company where you can't fire anybody?
I don't know what your letter says, but Sennacherib told Hezekiah, "I'm going to kill you. I'm going to wipe you out. It's going to be humiliating". Sometimes the letters the Devil sends me to get in my head is he tells me something in my life is going to happen to cause me great shame. Let me tell you another thing. In the day we live in, you don't even have to do anything wrong to be publicly shamed. So, that can feel like a real threat, can't it? When things are going well in my life, Sennacherib tells me, "It won't be this way long". When things are going bad in my life, he flips the script. "It's going to be like this forever". Sometimes when I preach, they'll say, "It was like you were reading my mail". The Holy Spirit will read your mail.
Today, we came to see what we need to do when we're holding in our hearts a letter of condemnation for our past that is behind us and forgiven by the blood of Jesus, but we don't feel forgiven, so we keep repeating it. We came to find out what to do when we're handed a letter of impending doom, even when there's no clear indication that it's going to happen, but we imagine it. I'm going to tell you why you keep imagining it. You need to stop listening to so many serial killer podcasts, Chunks. (I'm just messing with him. That's my dude.) Sometimes we feed ourselves the raw material, and then the Enemy makes our letter out of what we feed him. Sometimes it's more passive than that. Sometimes it is things we didn't consciously choose.
Whatever the situation is, it stopped me in my tracks when I saw what Hezekiah did about the letter he received, and it helped me so much I wanted to pass it along to you today. Do you want it? Verse 14. He received the letter from the messengers, and he didn't rip it up and pretend it didn't exist. That's one way to handle it. Right? Some of us don't deal with anything we feel. We don't deal with anything we think. We don't deal with anything we need to work on. We don't deal with anything that's stressing us out. We just rebuke the Devil of stress, but if you rebuke the Devil of stress without fixing the source where some of your stressful situations are coming from… I was trying to rebuke the Devil one time, and it was like the Holy Spirit said to me, "You're trying to rebuke the Devil when you need to rebuke your decisions and reverse them and make better ones".
Am I reading your mail? Is that what that feels like? So, he didn't rip up the letter. I think that's, a lot of times, how we're taught to do this faith thing. Like, "Oh, no. I believe God is going to make it better, and it doesn't matter what the Enemy says". Well, the truth is there are some things we have to deal with. This is not a king who's receiving a threat he can just ignore. He actually does have to respond to this threat. As we read at the end of the chapter, there are 185,000 Assyrian soldiers waiting to take him out. So, if he gets the letter saying, "Hey, we're coming in" and just goes, "I don't focus on the negative; I'm an optimist…" You're going to be a dead optimist. You're going to be an optimist with a crown on is what you're going to be, Hezekiah.
An optimist with a crown, but there's going to be no head on your shoulders. It's going to be rolling on the floor. You're going to be a headless optimist, a dead optimist. A lot of people are like that when it comes to their faith. "I rebuke this bill". The power company doesn't cut it back on because you said, "Let there be light". You can quote Genesis 1 over the power bill all you want…in the dark. Watch this response. He doesn't rip up the letter, saying, "Well, that's not true. You're not powerful. You can't do that". Yes, it is true. It is real. That's the reality of the situation.
The second thing I noticed he didn't do… I'm telling you what he didn't do so that when I show you what he did do you will have something to compare it to. He received the letter. Remember? "I'm going to kill you. I'm going to kill you just like I killed everybody. I'm going to kill your family. I'm going to take your kids out. Your kids are going to end up on drugs. Your kids are going to end up divorced. Your kids are going to end up worthless because you yelled at them this morning". That's how it goes for me. It spirals really quickly. I will be a little too harsh with the kids, and the Devil will be like, "That's why you're going to be bailing them out of jail right there. They're going to have a needle in their arm right there, and it all started with you". It can spiral really quickly.
So, this is the second thing Hezekiah didn't do when he got the letter from Sennacherib. They're like, "Hey, king, we don't know what to do. We can see you've already ripped your clothes. It is a bad situation, but he sent another letter". So, he received the letter (verse 14 again), and he read it, and he read it again and read it again and read it again and read it again. He read it over and over and over until he had memorized it. Then he gathered the whole nation and recited the letter for them that their enemy had written. Then he had it translated into 30 different languages so everybody could hear in their own language the threat of the enemy. Then he began to study it, and he broke it down into different syllables, and he made songs around it, and he began to sing the songs of Sennacherib.
That's not in the verse, is it? I can't prove this, but I think when it says he received the letter and read it that he only read it once. After he read it once, look at what he did next. He read it, and then he went up to the temple of the Lord. You don't even know how anointed that is what I just showed you. That's what stopped me in my tracks. When I read that verse, I stopped and said, "Oh! That's my problem". When I get a letter from the Enemy, I read it over and over and over. When he puts a thought in my head to draw me away from my hope, I play it over and over and over. When I have an experience where I make a mistake, I play it over and over and over, but when I get a word from God, I listen to it once and go to lunch.
So, my problem is I've given more attention to Sennacherib's letter than the Spirit's message in my life. So, he read it. He dealt with it. He faced it. He accepted it. He acknowledged it. "I'm in debt. I'm overweight. I'm stressed out. I'm busy. I'm torn apart right now. I'm not in the position I need to be in to make the difference in the life of my kids. I'm not the example I want to be". Okay. I read it. But after he read it, he didn't stay down in it. If I stay down in it and memorize it, then I'm going to get more of it. But come on y'all, 2023. Let's follow Hezekiah and do what Hezekiah did. What did he do? He read it, and he went up. I came to call you out today and tell you it's time to go up to the temple and see what the Lord says about this situation.
If you stay in your head, you're dead. If you stay in your head about this, you are going to go through hell over this, and the Enemy won't even have to shoot a single arrow because he will defeat you by getting in your head and causing you to forfeit the very thing you couldn't lose if you would stand firm and see what God has said. He went up to the temple, and he took the letter with him, just like you came to Elevation today and brought your letter with you. Oh yeah. You don't get to leave it at home. You take it with you everywhere you go. It is tattooed on your heart. The thing you really deal with, the thing you really worry about, the thing you struggle with, the insecurity that talks nasty to you… I put in that detail about the excrement and the urine because although you were grossed out about it, first, I wanted to take your appetite down so you could sit through this sermon longer and not be hungry for lunch, and secondly, I wanted us to think about the crap the Devil really says to us.
Sennacherib literally talked crap to Hezekiah. Literally. And I'm not using that word like people do when they use it to mean the exact opposite of literally. "I literally died". Figuratively! Opposite word! (Just a little pet peeve.) He tells you that you are trash, that you are done. Holy Spirit won't do that to you. The Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus. Jesus is righteous. Jesus is in you. The Holy Spirit will catch you the next morning and start talking to you about last night and how you want to do that differently in the future, but the Spirit won't talk to you like Sennacherib will. So that's not the Spirit. This gave me a picture of what we so often do.
If we don't just rip up the letter… I'm using it as a metaphor to say if we don't just deny it or if we don't just go over it and over it again in our minds, then often what we do is we stuff it, almost to the point where we don't even realize the Enemy is talking to us, but he's using our voice to do it. So we just stuff it. We keep it rolled up and scrunched up. If we take the things the Enemy speaks over our lives and stuff them, then guess what happens: they spread inside of us to the point where now it's not only "Oh, I did that wrong". It's "There's something wrong with me, and there always has been, and there always will be".
They say that the three habits of negative thinking are you make it personal, you make it permanent, and you make it pervasive. When you make it personal, it's not "I was wrong when I did that"; it's "I am wrong, and I always do that," which is permanent. "I always. That's how I've always done it. That's how I did it five years ago". You've edited out all of the times you got it right because you just say, "I always do it like that". Then pervasive, of course, is just a fancy word to say you make it everything. "It's always like this, and I'm always like that". When you take it and put it inside like that, and you don't find a way to process these patterns of thinking and these problems and the sin we all still have to deal with… It starts to spread not only inside of your heart, but it starts to sabotage the decisions in your life.
You find yourself losing good people who are trying to love you because of an insecurity that was in the form of the letter the Enemy sent you that you didn't know what to do with, so you stuffed it, and it spread. If nothing is there to stop the spread of that, you will continue to change external things in your life, but everything you touch while you are walking in that insecurity, the insecurity will spread to the next opportunity. So, you'll spend 10 months happy at a job until the old system of how you show up for the job catches up with you at the new one, and it spreads. Until your children see that Mom and Dad can't have a healthy conflict and work through it, and they carry a template with them into their marriage one day, and you spend years and years of your life saying, "I wish I had known how to deal with this, because the last thing I wanted to do was to pass this on to them".
We stuff it, and we "Hallelujah" over top of it, and we get little Scripture verses that we quote, thinking they will counteract the pattern of our own meditation in our hearts, but it doesn't, because if we stuff it, it spreads. But who do I tell? Who do I tell what I really feel inside? This is an important thing for me to stop and say right now. You can't just take that stuff and spread it anywhere. You can't just use other people like they are your dumping ground, like they have a hazmat suit on and they can just handle whatever you want to say.
What encouraged me about Hezekiah was he couldn't tell anybody because he was the king. Are there any dads in here who just wish for once (and I'm going to get to the moms in a minute) your kids would be like, "It must be so hard to be you. It is amazing what you carry for our family. It is amazing. You bring home the bacon, and you taught me to throw a baseball. You're my hero, Dad. How do you do it all"? But who do you tell when you're trying to seem strong that "This strength you see is costing me my own strength, and I have my own issues, and I still feel like a 13-year-old sometimes"?
I yelled at Elijah one time. He's my oldest, so I have him a separate therapy fund for all of the mistakes I make on him that I learn and then don't do with the other kids. I saved that with the college fund. Therapy fund, college fund. I'm doing both at the same time. I just yelled at him, "This is my first time too"! What was I talking about? "It's your first time being a teenager. It's my first time raising one, and now I'm confronting all of the teenage me that I didn't deal with before that's staring at me in you. So please be patient with one another and bear with one another". "And tell your therapist I'm sorry".
What's hard about this is that I know what my letter says, but I don't know where to share it. "Do I share it with my eGroup or would they kick me out or would they look at me differently? Do I share it with my wife or will she think I'm weak? Do I just take it to the Lord in prayer? Because, honestly, right now, I don't know if he's really up there". I love the moment where y'all act like you don't know what I'm talking about when I say stuff in church. "No, he's always there, Steve. Always, for me, he's there". Sometimes, for me, I don't know what that means to take it to the Lord in prayer.
Well, Hezekiah gives us a way to go to God that I really think is going to help you with the letter you carried in here today, whether it's condemnation or temptation, whether it's an insecurity, or whether it is an actual attack from the Enemy that's happening in your life right now that only you know about. This would apply to any addiction you're dealing with, any problem you have today. Watch what Hezekiah did. "Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord". He spread it out before the Lord. Physically, he did that. He took the scroll. I'll act it out. This will be the scroll. He spread it out before the Lord.
If he carries it inside of himself, if he stays in his head, he doesn't know what to do, but he really doesn't know what to say either, so he spreads it out before the Lord. Both of those are so important. One tells me what he did, and one tells me where he did it. Both are important. The first thing he did was he spread it out. He's like, "God, I'm not going to read this over and over and over again and imagine all of the horrible things that can happen. Here". You need a space in your life for this season you're in, for these challenges you're facing that you've never faced before, for these Sennacheribs that are going on inside of your psychological state, because I think this is a mental battle more than it's anything… You need a space to be able to spread it out before the Lord.
Often, we don't, because when anxiety comes on us, it has a way of pushing us back down. So, we can't even sit with anything very long without sinking into it. To spread out something before the Lord means you can sit with him in an uncomfortable feeling, that you can sit with him even as the temptation is coming like a wave. Some of you have been convinced by the Enemy that you can't sit with what you feel, so anytime you feel something uncomfortable, you just run from that. You just strip some more gold off the temple and say, "Here, Sennacherib. I don't like this feeling of being attacked, so I'll just do it the Enemy's way".
That's what a lot of addiction is, whether that addiction is to thinking, pills, food…you name it. Any of our addictions are often traced to something we will not sit in. "I don't like how this feels, so I'll just give the Devil my gold. I'll just give the Devil my peace. I'll even give him my whole family if you will just stop making me feel this way". You do not resist him because, somewhere along the line, you have bought the lie that this is bigger than you. Well, it might be, but guess what I know about it, whatever it is? Do you know where I'm going? How big is it? How big is this problem? How big is this enemy? How big? You're like, "It's really big, Preacher. Like, really, really big". How big is it? Well, that depends on what it's up against.
Here we go. You're like, "No, I'm going through some real stuff. You don't even know. You're just up here preaching. I'm going up against something that's real". Okay. It's real, but it's also relative. Everything is relative. I found this out watching my dog. I say "My dog". I don't do anything for him. It's their dog. Their dog is a Boston Terrier named Bo. Do y'all remember when I told the whole church, "I'm getting the family a dog"? I did. He's not too big, but when he was meeting his cousin, I guess, Holly's parents' dog… What relation would that make them?
Anyway… What kind of dog is Yoyo? Yoyo was a Chihuahua and Coco… I'm going to work this out in a minute. A Morkie. What's a Morkie? All right. Coco is really little. Bo is big when he's with Coco. Bo met Coco. Bo was a bully because he was big. Then Bo met Toby, their dog. Toby is a Goldendoodle, bigger than a Boston Terrier. Y'all got the picture? Bo, Coco, Toby. Bo was a bully with Coco because Bo was big with Coco. Bo with Toby was not a bully. Bo was a…sweetheart. (I don't want to get canceled. I'm only 43.) Bo was really nice. Bo was on his best behavior with Toby, because how big it is is relative to what it's up against. So, when the Devil is picking on you, that's a sign you haven't reminded him lately what he's really up against. When he starts telling you, "There's no way out of this one…" That's because you didn't take him to the God of Moses lately who opened up an ocean to get his people through.
When he's telling you, "You're going down," you didn't show him the God of David lately who can take a rock and a renegade and a rag and knock down a whole army. If he's telling you, "You're not going to make it," you haven't reminded him lately because he is God, no matter the odds, the outcome is we win! The way-maker is in the house, y'all. The odds-maker is in the house. You might be down by 185,000 soldiers, but God said, "I'll cover the spread". Watch out if you want to be home in time for dinner, because I will preach this thing until that Boston Terrier that has been nipping at your belief, been nipping at your future, been nipping at your sanity, been nipping at your sobriety… I will drive back every devil with the mention of one name! They hung him high. They stretched him wide. He saw my sin. He shed his blood. They put him in the ground, but he said, "I'll cover the spread".
"Come one, come all, just as you are. I know you're not enough. I'll cover it. I know you're not enough. I'll cover it. I know you don't have it. I do". "You have no idea who you're up against, Devil. And it's not me. I'm a Morkie. But have you met my master"? Come on, let's get ready! Let's get ready to tell Sennacherib that the angel is coming. The angel of God is coming! The angel of God over your family. The angel of God over your finances. The angel of God over your physical diagnosis. The angel! There's so much I want to say to you. You've been giving God your problem, and that's good, but let's change it a little bit.
That ain't no Morkie over there. That's a man of God right there. Help me preach this. I'm going to give you this for the rest of your life. You listen to me good and you listen to me young and you listen to me now. Y'all play him back this when he's a little older. Listen to this. You can give God your problem, but make sure you also give your problem God. I think that's what it is. You've been spreading it out before everything and everybody but God. Watch what Hezekiah did. He spread it out before the Lord.
Now, remember, it's not just what he did…he spread it out. This is going to be some of y'all, right? You're going to take this message. You are going to pull out that overdrawn bank account balance on your app and say, "Here, God. I did what he said. Here's my scroll, God. I am scrolling to this balance on my bank account, and I'm bringing it to you. Here, God". And the angel won't come. But here's what he did that I thought was so significant. When he spread it out before the Lord, he prayed. "Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim…" What's that about? If you remember, in the temple was something called the ark of the covenant, which was overlaid acacia wood and gold on the top. On the top where the gold was two and a half cubits, there were two angels, one on one side and one on the other. Those angels had wings that were spread up, and those wings touched in the middle.
Exodus, chapter 37, gives the details. When Hezekiah was spreading out his problem before God, he was looking at the ark of the covenant where those angels had spread their wings over him. Those angel wings on the golden cover of the wooden box that housed the symbolic presence of almighty God… Those wings were touching to remind Hezekiah, "While you're giving me your problem and reminding me of what you need, make sure you remind your problem of who I am". So, which spread am I preaching about today? The problem that you could spread out before God or the promise that he has spread over you? Which one will you focus on in this moment of your life?
When Hezekiah read the letter, he read it once. He confronted the issue. He spread it. He read it and he spread it. As he did, God was already spread over him. You don't see that when you're just right here. You know, they tell us all this horrible stuff about what's going to happen to our kids these days and how there's no more hope for this generation and the world. To hell with that. I don't receive that. I'm going to say my kids are going to have bumps and bruises. Yours will too, and none of us can foresee any of that, but when I see… Yeah, the odds are against us, but God said, "If you'll seek me, I'll cover the spread. I see you keep spreading out all of your problems and all of your reasons, but if you'll be grateful to me, I'll cover the spread. I see the distance between who you are and who you want to be, but if you'll let my grace in… I sent my Son for you, and I'll cover the spread".
Isn't it just like God to give us a term from Vegas and use it as a heavenly vision? I know the odds are against you right now, and I know it feels like it's very impossible for you to make progress in this area. I get it. But to spread it before the Lord and to say, "Lord, you're seated above all of this…" This is not abstract, y'all. You can do this as a daily practice, and I want you to. I want you to take that problem, that persistent one that has become personal and pervasive and you think is permanent. I want you to get a vision now. I'm speaking to you by the Spirit of God. This is not coming from my head right now. This is from God's heart through my mouth for you. He said, "I want you to spread it before me". Maybe if the apostle Paul could join in, he'd say, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation…" Philippians 4:6. Let's teach this. "…by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God".
That's what Hezekiah did. He spread it before God so he wouldn't spread it to the rest of the nation, so that fear wouldn't spread and get the best of his heart. That's what he did. That's what we do. You turn your problem into a petition, and you ask God, "What do I do about this"? When he shows you, even if he only shows you a little bit, you do that, and you leave the rest to the angels because they've got you. I don't know about you, but I'm covered. I'm not going to cower in fear over these things that are happening in the world. I'm covered. I will not give my mind to an algorithm or a news cycle because I'm covered. Just this week, I was having one of these attacks. You know, you just get these thoughts from the Enemy. It was really my ego, but at the time I felt like, "Man! What just happened was very offensive".
I was very self-righteous about it. Holly asked me about it, because we didn't get to talk, because it happened… It wasn't a big thing. If I told you what it was, it would just waste time. That's why I'm not telling you. It wasn't that big, but it felt big in the moment. Do you know what I mean? So, some little thing happened to me, and it became this whole thing in my heart. It triggered this old insecurity, and I didn't even know it was happening. "Dang! Why am I so mad about that"? When we got done, she goes, "How did you feel about what happened"? I started to talk about it, but I realized if I said what I felt in that moment, I would spread it. I wasn't ready to talk about it yet. The next morning, I woke up. I was still thinking about it. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I woke up thinking about it. "Oh, what's that about"? I took my little notebook. I don't have a temple to go to. I don't have an ark of the covenant, but I have my notebook. I wrote, "Holy Spirit, show me how I need to see this," and I sat there.
I didn't want to even sit there. I was like, "Man, I'd rather be doing burpees right now than sitting here. This sucks". Sometimes you have to let the anxiety pass through because on the other side of that anxiety is an awareness that you can't get if you run every time it shows up. What the Lord showed me next was so powerful to me. It was one of the craziest things he ever located for me. He showed me exactly why I felt that way about it. He gave me a better story to tell myself about it, and we went and had the best breakfast. We ended up talking about our future in a very deep way. If I would have spread it to her before I spread it before him, I wouldn't have even known what to talk about.
Now, I know it's not always that simple, but do you have something in your life today that you need to spread before the Lord that you've been holding on the inside and fighting in your head? Stand up. Yeah. This is a place where you can spread it before the Lord. I hear God saying this: "Spread it before it spreads". Before it eats up all of your resources and all of your energy, get it before him. He can show you things, church. He really can. He's really alive. He's really loving. He's really personal. He's really active. He's really willing. He's really wise. He's really kind. He's really good. So, now we see the angel of God, that as we spread our problem before him, he spreads his protection over us. Say, "I'm covered".
Lord, we come to you today knowing that everybody is holding their own letter written in its own tongue. Speaking specifically to the troubles and trials of each individual child, Holy Spirit, I ask you now, come. Manifest yourself through these human minds so we can recall what it is we need to bring to you, but as we bring it to you, we declare that you're bigger than it. Yes, Lord. I hear you saying we're looking at the wrong spread. We have forgotten the God who fights for us. We're too focused on the fighting we're doing. So, Lord, now you called us into your presence. You brought our eFam from around the world. You brought your sons and daughters to our 20 church campuses, to all of the men and women and boys and girls who will hear this message. I thank you that you are spreading your feathers, spreading your faithfulness, spreading your favor.
I want you to lift your hands as wide as you can lift them and say, "Here it is, God. Here are the questions I have. Here are the regrets I have. Here's the anxiety I keep fighting, but I'm spreading it before you. There's nothing that is in that letter from the Enemy that is greater than what is written in your Word". Say, "Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world". Again. "Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world". Say it again. "Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world".
If we start rehearsing the right things, we'll start believing the right things. If we start believing the right things, we'll start becoming the right things. "Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world". Somebody high-five somebody next to you and say, "He's greater". Angels of God inhabiting this space right now, setting a canopy over his beloved right now. "Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world". Declare it seven times a day. "Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world". Tell Sennacherib, "Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world". Come on. Let's worship him together!