Steven Furtick - Getting Ready For What's Next
You know, we like to think that God is going to give us a good feeling and then we can obey Him. We like to think that God is going to show us on paper how everything's going to work out and then we can trust Him. We like to think sometimes that God is going to take a certain desire away from us and then we will walk in freedom. But the nature of faith is the ability to believe that God is up to something upstream, where I can't see. And the key for me to experience that is to walk toward the thing that stands between me and what God has called me to.
Now, this could be anything. This could be walking toward freedom, recovery, service, purpose, discipline. We could name a lot of things that God is calling you to, a lot of things that God is calling you to do today. Last week I said, "What do I know God spoke that I can obey today"? What has God said? What did God say that I can obey today? And do the thing, one thing, that you would do if you knew God was with you. In it with me, working through me, fighting for me. If you believe that, what thing would you do?
Now the double play on the phrase, "Do the thing that you would do," is when I talk about, that you, do the thing, that you, would do, I'm saying that there are at least two yous in scripture. There's the old you which is programmed by the patterns of sin. There is the new you which is created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Remember that's the true you, that's the one that flows from upstream. That's the you that was spoken by the mouth of God before you were formed. He knew you, that you. So when you're caught between the two, like, "This is what my selfish desires want. This is what the part of me that knows God and hears from God wants".
Do the thing that you... Which one? The new one. The one that God is speaking to, the one that God is flowing through, the one that's in harmony with Him, the one that is kept, the one that is sustained, the one that is full of the faith of Jesus Christ. Do the thing, that you, would do. And you got to sometimes do it when you don't feel it, when you don't see it, when you don't understand it, when you can't explain it, but you got to do it. You got to walk toward the Jordan believing that God's presence, like the Ark of the Covenant was with them in the middle of the Jordan, God's presence is with you guiding you. "But I'm not certain how it's going to turn out".
Well do the thing that you would do if you were certain that God was with you. "Are you saying I could just start anything and assume that God is with me"? No, I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying you have to be guided by His presence and you have to do the thing that you would do, that you, would do in spite of the fact that you can't see the waters cut off 20 miles away. When Jesus baptized or was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan, John never could have imagined, never could have seen, never could have dreamed that he would end up in prison. John would, John ended up in prison.
Jesus of course gave His life for our sin, but John was in prison hearing about the great things that Jesus had done. And he sent some messengers to ask Jesus, "Is it true that You're the one or should we expect another"? Because he heard about all the great things Jesus was doing, but he, himself was in prison and really the kingdom that Jesus was preaching was a little bit different than the one that John had expected because, "Hey, the healing blind eyes is great," but he's like, "Man, you know you got to separate the wheat from the chaff. I'm in here because of a wicked king and the judgment of God has got to come". And Jesus said, "Go back and tell John what you see, the blind see, the deaf hear. The kingdom of God is coming, blessed is he who doesn't fall away on account of me". He was telling John, "You got to believe in what I'm doing upstream".
You got to believe. In business the term upstream means something different than what it means in nature. In business, if you talk about marketing, upstream refers to the activities and strategies associated with creating and developing a product while downstream refers to activities and strategies associated with promoting and selling a product. You see the difference? The upstream stuff in marketing, you mean you want to market a shoe. Well, the activities and strategies associated with creating and developing it, that's upstream. Downstream is promoting and selling. I think we live in a culture where we're all doing downstream things to try to market and promote ourselves rather than focusing on the upstream stuff, which is being like God, developing character so God can work on us.
Am I so busy trying to market myself that I'm not spending time with my maker? That's a downstream distraction, you see? That's a downstream distraction. But I got a upstream God, I got a God who sent his son Jesus. Who sent His son, Jesus, not from 20 miles away, but he sent His son, Jesus, from eternity and He spanned the distance between His holiness and my sin. I got a God who is an upstream God. And Jesus was born in a town called Bethlehem and raised in a town called Nazareth, but He didn't stay in Nazareth. He didn't stay in Nazareth because He had to go to Galilee so He could begin to preach and teach.
Now listen what it said in Matthew 4:12, "When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee". Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali, to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: "Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned". From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near". God is up to something upstream. He left Nazareth, verse 13, "lived in Capernaum, which was in the area of Zebulun, by the lake, to fulfill what was spoke by the prophet".
Think about this, think about this. You may not know this. I didn't know this I had to look it up. That Nazareth is about 20 miles away from Capernaum. Capernaum is where Jesus did most of His ministry. It was His base. He healed a lot of people in Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee. He opened blind eyes. I wonder, did the blind people whose eyes He opened in Galilee have any clue that 20 miles away, 10 years earlier, God was up to something upstream while Jesus was sawing logs into bedside tables for lamps alongside his father, the carpenter. God was up to something upstream, 20 miles away, getting Jesus ready for Galilee. Getting Him ready for Galilee, getting Him ready for miracles, getting Him ready for signs and wonders, getting Him ready. God is getting you ready 20 miles away. Do you have the faith to trust Him, that He's up to something 20 miles away?
I wrote a song with a guy this week, woo, so excited about the song, and his name is Brandon Lake. Y'all know Brandon? Y'all know Brandon. Y'all love Brandon. He told me a story that I never heard before. Because he grew up near Charleston, South Carolina and went to a church called Seacoast. Oh my God, I'm just getting this revelation. He said, "I never told you this before, Pastor. We just wrote a song". We've written a lot of songs together, me and Chris and Brandon and also with other people. But we wrote a song this week. I can't wait for y'all to hear it. Oh man, we wrote three songs this week. I can't wait for y'all to hear all of them, but it's amazing because he said to me, "I never told you this story before, but when I was a teenager, I sent an email to Elevation saying, 'I would love to come learn.' And somebody that was responding to the email said, 'Ah, no. We don't really do that right now. You could come move here whenever, blah blah.'"
I thought it was so funny. Isn't it so funny how somebody else told him, "No, you can't do that," and here we are today working together. And God is using you in a great way and we've written some really cool songs together like "Graves into Gardens", and "Rattle!", and "Talking to Jesus", and "Lion", and "The Water is Wild", and "Might Get Loud", and "Million Little Miracles" and… oh my God, we've had some amazing times together, "Make a Way". And oh man, all these songs. "Some new, some old, we're writing songs together".
I never knew when I was growing up in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, that 30 miles away, it's almost 20, there was a boy named Brandon and we would get together and write music together. You know, Chris? I had no idea that you were in Hampton, South Carolina. God was getting us ready to write songs like, "O Come to the Altar" and "Do It Again". God was getting us ready to go to arenas all over the world. God is up to something upstream. I had never met Brandon. I didn't know Chris until I was a teenager. I had no idea that God was up to something and you don't either. You don't know what God is up to upstream. That's why you can't die downstream. That's why you got to cross that Jordan. That's why you got to do the thing that you would do if you believed that victory, healing, breakthrough, second chances and new beginnings were on the other side. I'm telling you, God is up to something upstream.
Let me go a little deeper with this. When Jesus heard that John was in prison, that is the significant event that I mentioned where John was doubting downstream in the prison, what he knew upstream when he baptized Jesus in the Jordan. We're all going to come to these moments. We're going to have downstream doubts. I can't see God doing it. I can't feel God doing it. I don't even know if He's going to do it. There's some thoughts going through my mind making me think that maybe I'm crazy for trusting God. Ah, but God is up to something 20 miles away. It might not happen in the next 20 minutes. It might not happen in the next 20 days. I'm not one of these weird preachers who thinks I can tell everybody the timeframe, that is God's business. But if you can obey him and do the thing that you would do if you believe that He was with you, you're going to see it. You're going to see it.
When did they see it? When their feet touched the water, when they did the thing. Nike said, "Just do it". Just do it. When they did the thing, when they did the thing, when they did the thing, when they did the thing. Look at verse 15, "As soon as the priests who carried the Ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge," When their feet touched the water's edge, that is when they saw what God had already done upstream. I believe that there are some things that have you distracted today downstream. "How are we going to get across this"? Do the thing that you would do if you knew God was with you. Do the thing. Do it like you would do it. Walk in the room.
I was talking Graham last night, he said that when he's in a crowd and it's awkward, like an event, and he doesn't know how to stand or anything. He said he starts jumping up and down like a character on Madden. Some people use the term in NPC. I don't like that term the way kids use it, non-playable character. I don't like that term because I think sometimes I hear it used to say that some people are NPCs and, "I'm the main character in life". No, Jesus is the main character, God is the main character, the Holy Spirit is the main character. And Graham said, "Sometimes I just start doing like this, boom, boom, boom," jumping up and down. And I think that's good to do in church too. When you don't know how to stand, when you don't know what to do, start doing the thing that you would do if you were excited about God's promise. You're not going to always feel it. Do the thing. Move toward the thing that you know God spoke that you could obey today.