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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - Try Higher

Steven Furtick - Try Higher

Steven Furtick - Try Higher

Holly said to tell you about my hype track, but it's not a hype track; it's a hope track. I'm actually going to use it to get into my sermon today. I used to do these videos at the beginning of every year. I did it for a few years. It was designed to help you when you need motivation from God's Word and you need to listen to something that will fire you up but also, at the same time, not make you feel unspiritual. So I started making these, and then I quit for years.

This year, my oldest son Elijah, who just went to college last week… He and I had been talking for years about working on one together and that he would make the beat and I would do the track. I was like, "I really don't want to do these anymore. I'm too old to be doing those. People think I'm trying to be a rapper. They start calling me Eminem. They start making fun of me". He was like, "No, no. Let me just try to make a beat". So he and Josh got together, made a track, and brought it to me. When I heard the track, I was like, "I'm on it," and I put this together. If you want to hear it, I could play it for you right now just to get us into the message.

Last week, we said he's The God of a Way. We were singing, "He will make a way". This track says, "With God there's always a way". Nod your head like this and say, "Always". Now look at your neighbor and say, "By faith I will find it". All right. Y'all take a seat and watch the screen. Let's go. To the Great I Am, no limits exist; Therefore, my potential to glorify him is endless. I'm moving forward in the light of what he's spoken, And every other voice must let go, Because I know with every step he gives me strength. Almighty God is fighting for me. His Spirit is my guide, His strength is my supply, And every need will be provided by his hand at just the right time. I don't need to see it to believe it; I know the truth, And I will do it, and do it, and do it Until my life becomes the proof.

See, he hid me in his quiver, Prepared me in his shadow for such a time as this. I'm a weapon, not a hostage. I'm on an assignment; Nothing can stop it. It's time to take back my mind, Take back my life, Break every lie With the promise of God because: With God there's always a way; By faith I will find it. With God there's always a way; By faith I will find it. What is a challenge But a giant waiting to fall? What is a mountain To a God who does impossible? What is an obstacle To a God whose word turns seas to walls? What is a setback But a setup for a miracle? What is an enemy To a God who shuts the lion's mouth? What is a fire To a God whose hand can snatch me out?

A thousand angels Surround me now Speak to the stronghold And watch it come down. A thousand angels Surround me now Speak to the stronghold And watch it come down. With God there's always a way; By faith I will find it. With God there's always a way; By faith I will find it. If God's got power, I've got power! If God's got strength, I've got strength! If God's got victory, I've got victory! If it's in him It's in me 'cause What's his is mine! What's his is mine! It's time 'cause What's his is mine! What's his is mine! What's his is mine! It's time 'cause: With God there's always a way; By faith I will find it.

With God there's always a way; By faith I will find it. I've got a sling, I've got a stone, I've got an army, I've got a God greater than all! We're a majority! I've got a hope, I've got a call, I've got someone to be! Devil, you lose! I know the truth. Get behind me! With God there's always a way; By faith I will find it. With God there's always a way; By faith I will find it. With God there's always a way; By faith I will find it. With God there's always a way; By faith I will find it. Oh man! Y'all like it. Good. Well, I hope you can use it. You can go stream it or whatever like that…do some push-ups or some burpees or some kettlebell swings or some Bulgarian split squats.

Special thanks to Jalen Ramsey for being in our video. Appreciate that. Praying for you that God will bring you back better than ever. David, I think I want you in it next year. You do the next one. Can we sign a contract? I want to preach right from that thought. Look at your neighbor and say, "With God there's always a way, and by faith I will find it". At the beginning of this year, I was making myself a bunch of little statements, affirmations that were scriptural, and then I started sharing them with people, and that was one of them, just to encourage myself past the hurdles and discouragements life offers us and sometimes the hurdles in my own head.

How many of you have hypothetical hurdles you create? As if the challenges life gives you are not enough, you just make some in your spare time. That one came to me one day. I was driving somewhere, and I was thinking about something I couldn't do, and I said, "With God there's always a way, and by faith I will find it". It felt like both parts were important. The first part lets me know that even right now in my life, God is clearing a path for his purpose to be accomplished concerning me, my family, our church, and our ministry and your family and your seed. Everything God has called you to do, he's right now working on your behalf. Give God praise if you believe that. The harder part for me to get out of my mouth is "And by faith I will find it," because sometimes I just want him to make it so obvious and so easy.

The Scripture I want to share with you… It's a very familiar story. I won't be long today, because what I want to say is actually very clear to me. God gave me a word for this moment for your life. It's in Luke, chapter 5. Let me read you the whole story and then show you something in two verses. Say it again. "With God there's always a way". Now say, "By faith I will find it". This story in Luke, chapter 5, verse 17, was probably the most vivid illustration of that confession I could find.

The Bible says, "One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus". And when Jesus saw their good intentions… When Jesus saw their hearts… When Jesus heard their pretty songs… No. "When Jesus saw their faith…" Incidentally, this is the first time the noun faith is mentioned in Luke's gospel.

It didn't say faith when Peter put his nets down for a catch. It didn't say faith about the man who was cured of leprosy just before this. It didn't say faith about the man who had a demon driven out in the synagogue. But here it says, "When Jesus saw their faith, he said, 'Friend, your sins are forgiven.' The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, 'Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?' Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, 'Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Get up and walk"?

But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.' So he said to the paralyzed man, 'I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.' Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God". Ooh, I just saw a preview of somebody's future. "He went home praising God". You know, you came in kind of slow today, but you're going home praising God. One more verse: "Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, 'We have seen remarkable things today.'" Thank you, Lord, for your Word.

Now, this encounter between Jesus and the paralyzed man is really hiding a deeper encounter between Jesus and the religious system…the Pharisees, the teachers of the law. These ruling-class elites in Judaism had come to not necessarily learn from Jesus, but maybe they came to see if he was doing things the right way according to the law. Jesus did not come to abolish the law, like it was bad. He came to fulfill it because we can't. One of the Scriptures I memorized in college said what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.

Whenever you read about Jesus doing something in the Bible where he's healing or feeding or teaching, remember his primary purpose for coming to the earth was to pay the price for your sin, to establish his kingdom so we could be forgiven and free. In the process of this, he taught amazing things and healed people who were indeed very grateful for their healing, but his primary purpose was to demonstrate that he was the Son of God so he could die, rise again, and be forever glorified and exalted.

This passage of Scripture always got my attention because I'm a person who's prone to extremes. That's why I don't do many things in life. If I do it, I want to really be good at it. I don't want to suck at anything. That has kept me very limited in my life. I don't hunt. I don't fish. I barely even watch TV because I don't know if I can find the best show to watch. I'll shop for three hours and not watch anything just because I want it to be the best one, the right one, the good one. I don't think I've ever been short on effort and drive. So, that's why I was drawn to this particular verse. I don't know what part caught your attention in the passage, and I don't know if you've ever heard this story before, but the thing that really got me this time around reading it was in verse 18 where it said, "Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus".

I have the benefit of having preached this passage many times. I know it's recorded in Mark's gospel, Matthew's gospel, and Luke's gospel. In Matthew's gospel, it doesn't say anything about the removal of the roof because that wasn't the whole point of the passage. Roofs come and go, apparently, but the righteousness of God endures forever…something like that. The passage in Mark is a little bit more exact. It talks about how many men there were. There were four…well, there were five…well, there were six. There were the four men who carried the one man to bring him to the other man who wasn't just a man, but he was God in the flesh. His name is Jesus.

Let's not get it confused. He's the man. Jesus is the man. He's so popular, he's preaching and nobody can get in the room. That's what got me, because if you'll be honest, there are certain things in your life right now and areas of your life… I don't know if you're going to look at me with that really confused look like you do sometimes, where you pretend like everything in your life is working and everything in your life is straight and organized and together. I don't know if you're going to do that to me on this particular sermon or if you're going to be honest with me. There are some areas of your life where you are blocked.

There are some areas in your life where you are running your head up against the same habit, the same wall, the same way of doing it over and over again, and even if you experience short-term victory, it seems to be just a precursor to a deeper point of disappointment when you fall back into the same thing again. So, y'all are going to do like that today, that really confused thing. Okay. It's okay. I have areas in my life where at certain times before I have been blocked, and that's exactly the scene here. They're trying to bring this man to Jesus, and they are blocked outside the door. Now, here I should differentiate.

What the Bible says here is really important, because this is a specific word. This is not just a generic Bible sermon on "You can do it. You can make it. Chin up". This is not a "Go get 'em, tiger" kind of sermon. This is a custom-tailored message to a certain type of block. In verse 18, it says, "Some men [four of them] came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus". They did what? They came carrying a paralyzed man and tried. They tried. There have been times in my life where I said I tried, but I only kind of tried. There have been certain things, certain tasks, certain responsibilities, certain goals that I kind of tried at. You know exactly the kind I'm talking about. You know, "Well, I tried to call them". You didn't want them to pick up, so when they didn't pick up, it was a sigh of relief. Just enough to say "I tried" when your boss asked.

Or it's me as a teenager. I only had one or two chores. My parents didn't make me work very hard around the house, but I did need to cut the grass sometimes. Then guess what? "I tried to cut the grass, Dad, but there was no gas in the lawn mower". That man showed me the difference between trying and trimming the grass. He showed me, "This is where the gas is. This is how you put it in. Until you put the gas that I bought in the first place in the lawn mower that you claim is empty, don't say, 'I tried.'" But I was only 12. Now I'm much more responsible. I'm much better at this. This passage of Scripture is not about a teenager who said, "Well, I tried to do the test, but I left my book at the thing, and the dog ate the… My dog ate my mom so I couldn't do my homework".

These men carried another grown man who knows how many miles to try to get him to Jesus. So, this is not they said, "Oh, yeah! I'll pray for you about that problem in your life," knowing good and well you're not going to pray. You're just trying to wrap up the conversation. You just don't want to give them any money. You just don't want to help them get in rehab. You just say, "I'll pray for you". This is not that type of situation. I want to point that out because there are some times in your life where you haven't really tried. Reading the first chapter of the book about the diet is not trying the diet. Coming to church three times in 12 months is not really trying to build your relationship with God. I'm not saying it to shame you, because I'm telling you there are areas in my life where I say I tried. Did I? I say I listened. Did I?

I have this friend who coaches professional athletes and CEOs. He does all this mental coaching. He says when he hears somebody say this phrase he loves it, because he sets them up. They say, "I want to do it. I've tried everything". When they say that, he goes, "Oh, everything? You've tried everything? Okay. Let me see the list". They go, "What list?" and he goes, "Well, I mean, if you tried everything, certainly you kept a spreadsheet of everything you tried, because if you really tried everything, then you had to list everything so you could evaluate what worked and what didn't. So, if you tried everything, bring me the list. Because if you tried everything, then you had to combine certain things in certain sequences to say, 'I tried everything.' So, you tried this and that, and that didn't work, so then you tried this, then that. So then you tried this and that. Let me see the list where you tried everything". He said at this point they crumble. "Okay. Not everything".

There are some things in our lives where we have a desire… I like to call it a cycle. It's a cycle where I get inspired, I try, I get tired, and now…"Well, I tried". Let me walk you back through that really slowly. Y'all can do this on Digging Deeper and break this down. "I'm inspired. I'm trying. I'm tired. I tried". I talked to a lady. I said, "You should come to church". She said, "Oh, I tried". I said, "You tried"? She said, "Yeah, I came. They made me go in a different room. The room was full". I said, "What time did you get there"? She said, "9:43". I said, "You know it starts at 9:30. If you would have tried even 10 minutes earlier, you probably could have snuck in the top". But she tried.

Do you have an area of your life right now where you have said, "I tried"? Or you're telling yourself, "I tried everything to get through to my kid. I tried everything to make that better. I tried everything". Everything? Show me the list. Yet, for those of you who are like, "I should have skipped today; he's making me feel terrible," the message I came to bring you today is not that I don't think you're actually trying or that you just need to try harder. Because that's where we take this a lot of times. Right? Like, "All right. I'm going to work out eight days a week, nine days a week. With God there's always a way; by faith I will find it. I'll make another day in the week. I'll put another star in the sky. I'll do another one".

Y'all, I don't think you can try much harder than these men tried. They carried a grown man all the way to see this wonder-working rebel priest named Jesus who was healing people and teaching the kingdom and laying down the authority of the Word of God in an incarnate way that amazed everybody who heard him. They bring this man on a mat, and he can't do anything for himself. There were only four of them. I don't care what you bench. Four people carrying one grown man who can't move for any distance counts as trying. So, they tried to get in. The Bible says something very interesting. It says because of the crowd, they couldn't find a way. I don't think this is a passage talking about how more effort will bring greater results.

I think, a lot of times, the reason we go from inspired to trying to tired to tried is because we try harder, harder, harder, and harder. What happens as you try harder and harder and harder and harder? It gets heavier and heavier and heavier and heavier. Some of you are here today, and you're going, "Well, I did try or I would try, but every time I try to try, I can't even try to try, because I trip on the things that I tried for in the past. I'm trying now, but it's what happened then that makes me unable to try. You don't see the injuries I've been through to know that I'm trying".

Look. I'm not preaching to a person today who's not trying, because you chose to bring your heart into an environment where you could hear the Word of God. Even if you did skip church and watch it later, you're hearing this sometime because you are trying. They tried to bring him to Jesus. They tried honestly. They tried valiantly. I didn't see anybody else in the passage carrying a paralyzed man. I didn't see the Pharisees carrying anybody on a mat. I didn't see the religious teachers trying to help anybody. You know, the truth of it is you haven't really experienced struggle until you've stepped in to try to bring somebody else with you along the journey. So, they tried.

I want to do something right now that may seem sacrilegious, but I need to do it to get the point across. There is somebody I'm preaching to, and you are blocked, but you've tried. You've been blocked, but you have tried. It's very different than "I didn't even try it. I didn't even do it". It's very different. It's a different kind of tired when you've really tried. That's why I like to preach to youth sometimes. They haven't really even tried yet. They haven't even gotten tired of themselves yet. They're not even sick of themselves yet. You know, I don't have to do half the work I have to do with you when I preach to you, all y'all "over 30" people, "over 40" people, "over 50" people. "I'm tired of this. I tried everything you're up there talking about. I tried all of that".

Now look. They tried. Verse 18 says they couldn't get in, but they tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. Here's what I want to show you in verse 19: what they did and what they could have done. "When they could not find a way to do this…" What? To bring this man to Jesus. "…because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus". I love that. What I love about it, though, is it says, "When they could not find a way to do this (what they originally intended to do) because of the crowd," and then there is a comma. It doesn't say they started a fight in the parking lot so their friend could get in. I love that. Do something for me really quick. This might disturb you.

I want y'all to take away the second part of that verse. "When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd…" Now take away the rest. What would you do next in that situation? What are you doing in that situation? Because if we make a few substitutions here, we're not talking about four men who lived 2,000 years ago anymore; we're talking about you. "When they could not find a way because of the crowd, they looked at each other and said, 'Well, we tried,' and turned around and went home". This story would probably not be in the Bible if the men brought the man all the way to Jesus, encountered resistance at the door, tried, begged, bribed… "I'll do anything. Don't you see this man needs help"?

See, you're wondering the same thing I wondered. Why wouldn't somebody else give him their spot? Paralyzed people were not given special access in this time. There were no handicapped spots in this time for people in this condition. In fact, it was often seen as a sign of God's divine displeasure on your life if you had something physically wrong. So, they assumed, "There's something you are not doing right that has caused your legs to not be able to work," so they would actually ostracize you. Rather than including you, they would exclude you. So, the man on the mat didn't get a special spot for having no ability to walk. In fact, he had more obstacles. The one who needed it the most had the least access to it.

Might I just ask a question, church? Why do we make it so hard for people to come to God sometimes? Why do we put up so many restrictions for people to come into the presence of God? Why do we judge others for struggling with stuff that if we were in a situation, we might have the same struggle? Or truth be told, why do we judge people for stuff we haven't even been free from ourselves for five years? Why do we judge people for stuff that if they showed everything we thought about on a movie screen, we would be embarrassed about it too? So, I'm glad these men don't start a fight, because if they start a fight, they go to prison and their friend doesn't have a ride home. How do you deal with it?

I want you to think about how you're going to finish this sentence in your life right now. "When they could not find a way because of the crowd…" When they could not find a way because of the debt… When they could not find a way because of the genetics… When they could not find a way because of the addiction… When they could not find a way because of the broken heart… When they could not find a way because of the divorce… When they could not find a way because of the betrayal… When they could not find a way because of their boss… Oh, I'm coming all through this crowd. I'm coming all through this crowd until I find that place where you've been blocked, because I came with a word from God today.

There's always a way. With God there's always a way. Just because I don't see it when I first show up, just because I can't point to it yet, just because it's not obvious, just because I can't really get my truck through there, just because I can't get there dancing, just because I can't get there in style, just because I might be a few years late, and just because somebody told me, "You can't go this way, and people like you can't do that, and people from our background can't rise there…" With God there's always a way! Always means always. If the first way didn't work, there must be another one, because with God there's always…

Now, imagine you show up and are like, "Okay. Well, I mean, this is the way we're supposed to go through, and this is the way it's supposed to work. The Pharisees and teachers of the law are more important than us anyway, so, if they have the good seats, we might as well go away". This is you stopping your miracle, your maturity, your ministry, your legacy, and your freedom because you stop mid-sentence. How does this sentence end? When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd…they turned around and went home, which they had every right to do, because they already did more than anybody else in the whole passage except Jesus. They already did more than the Pharisees. What were the Pharisees doing again?

Let me look at verse 17. I just want to see what the Pharisees were doing, the ones who were supposed to be setting an example, the ones who were supposed to be teaching the law. "One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were…sitting there". Like they're about to judge Jesus. Like they're about to catch him doing something wrong. I don't know whether to say this or to save it. You think I should say it? I don't know if you can handle it. All right. It's in the same verse. They were sitting there. They were teachers of the law. "They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus…"

The power of the Lord wasn't with them. The power of the Lord was with Jesus. I think you need to take your power back from people and bring that thing to Jesus, because the power is not with them. I'm not saying God can't use people. I just told you to join an eGroup. What I am saying is there have been times in your life where you have thought people needed to give you permission. People needed to cheer you on. People needed to understand you. Do you know what I would say in this pulpit if I needed every person to vote before I said it? The sermon would be so short we wouldn't even need to come. So, there has to come a point in your life where you decide "I'm not going to spend another minute trying to convince people of what I need to believe Jesus for".

I don't mean don't be nice. I don't mean don't make friends. I don't mean don't be congenial. I'm just saying there's nothing these teachers of the law can do to stop God from doing what God has made up his mind to do. The power of the Lord is with Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God. If Jesus is in the house, healing is in the house. If Jesus is in the house, freedom is in the house. If Jesus gives the command and faith makes the move, then the glory of God will be the result. How many are glad that the power is with Jesus? All right. So, they try to get in. They can't get in. This is me every time I try. I'm inspired. I'm trying. I try harder. I try harder. It gets heavier. It gets heavier.

This is what keeping the law is like. This is what trying to be right with God through your works is like. This is what discipline without actual grace in your life is like. This is what not accepting your current lot in life and being grateful for it while aspiring to what you… This is trying harder, harder, harder, harder, harder, heavier, heavier, heavier. Inspired: "Let's take our friend to Jesus". Tired: "He was heavy". "Well, we tried". Watch what they did. Oh, I love the Bible. "When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd…" That's what's right in front of you, and you can't push through it, you can't go over it, and you can't go around it. "When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd…"

Now finish the verse. "…they went up…" The Spirit of the Lord says, "Don't try harder; try higher". I hear God saying, "Try higher". See, there's plenty of room on the roof. It's not that you haven't tried hard enough. You've been trying. You have dirt under your fingernails. You came a long way. You did a lot of stuff. It's not that you haven't tried harder; it's that you haven't tried higher. I know a man… I said, I know a man! I want to preach it from Milwaukee to Mozambique. I know a name that is above every name! For God has given Jesus the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee has to bow, and every tongue has to confess!

High-five three people and say, "I'm going higher". Higher! Not harder, higher! Not by my flesh, by my faith! Because with my God there's always a way, and by faith… Not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit! I hear John the Revelator saying, "Come up higher". Higher! Now high-five everybody you can reach and say, "I'm going up whether you come or not". Higher. Oh, now I get it. It's not that I wasn't doing enough. It's not that I wasn't trying enough. It's that I wasn't trusting enough. I kept thinking if I couldn't get in the way I wanted to get in, it wasn't meant to be. No. It's not trying harder. I don't have to force it. I can make it by faith, trusting him who was and is and is to come. That means I don't go by what I see. I don't try harder. If I just had to try harder, then Christ died for nothing.

The gospel isn't "Try harder"; it's "Try higher". If you ever call his name, he will reach down and pick you up. Do I have three witnesses in the whole church? If you ever humble yourself and say, "Almighty Father, I need you right now," he'll look upon you with mercy, grace, compassion, and help for your time of need. That's the word I needed, because sometimes it gets heavy because I try harder and harder, but God said, "Try higher". Be like these dudes who said, "Can't get in. Can't get in. Can't get in. Got to go up". I'll give you the picture again. "Can't get in. Can't get in. Can't get in. Got to go up".

And you are saying to me, "Pastor Steven, what exactly does that mean"? Sit down. I'll tell you. I know there's a way, because with God there's always a way; by faith I will find it. What is faith? Faith is when I get my eyes above the waves and put them on the one who can speak one word to the waves and make them be still. You think God can't bring your kid back? You think God can't fix this thing? You think God can't turn an industry around? You think God can't raise you up in a famine? I said, "Try higher". Maybe you ought to close a news app and open a Bible app every once in a while and try higher. What does God say? What does his Word say?

I didn't come here to debate about it; I came here to declare it. God says I'm going over, not under. God says I'm the head and not the tail. God said I'm above and not beneath. He said I'm seated! Now high-five your neighbor again because I'm going to tell you five things. I'm going to tell you how to try higher, not harder, so you don't just go and go, "That was pretty good. I think he blew out his vocal cords trying to tell me something and all that. I don't know what I think about Preacher rapping, or anything like that, on the video. I don't even know if he had much flow or anything like that. I really don't know about that cardigan. What was that thing you were wearing? I don't know about that".

So you don't leave here with just some stupid stuff, I wrote down five things. God said it's going to take prayer. (Now you know why I came over here. They put on my sheet, "The online prayer team is coming today". I said, "I know I've got the right word". Forty-two of y'all. While we're having church, they're online praying for the people in the comment section.) Every time I tell somebody, "Put your thing in the chat and we'll pray for you," I know they go, "I already tried to pray".

Did you? Did you pray about it or did you worry about it and label it prayer? Those are different. I had to sit down on the side of the bed the other day. I was having shortness of breath about some things I was worried about. I put my feet down, and I said, "They're not moving until I say out loud to my Father who I remember he is and begin to get myself into a condition, because I don't feel that right now…" I felt blocked. Do you ever feel blocked? Anybody like me? Sometimes you get so blocked you can't even breathe right? Yeah. So, I had to put my feet on the ground. If you would have asked me, I would have said, "Yeah, I prayed about this," but I didn't pray about it today. You have to keep praying. You're going to pray once and say, "I tried; it didn't work"? Do you do that with restaurants? "No, I ate back there in 1997. I'm good".

Sometimes it's heavy because… Remember what they did? They brought the man before Jesus. I don't want you to just come out here and hear me preach and yell and scream and sing, and all this stuff we try to do, and then go home and wonder why you're blocked. It's going to take prayer for you to try higher. You need God. You need God in your situation. You need angels in your situation. You need the Spirit of God to make it through some of the things we're going through today. You need prayer. Not just pray louder, because that's try harder. Pray louder. "O God, O God, O God! God, I call on you now for peace! Peace"! And it's not praying longer. I hear people say, "Well, I try to pray. I fall asleep".

Did you try it walking? That would be really hard to do. If you fall asleep prayer walking, come see me, because you are a modern-day Lazarus, coming out like a zombie in prayer. But I'm serious. I'm talking about praying larger because, secondly, to try higher means God might need to deal with your priorities. Remember, it wasn't so significant who these men were because they weren't even named in the passage. It was what they were carrying. They were carrying somebody Jesus wanted to use. Notice something. I don't know if you caught this. When they laid the sick man down, thinking Jesus would heal him like he was known to be able to do, the first thing Jesus did was say, "You're forgiven". But they weren't looking for forgiveness, were they?

Sometimes God doesn't give us what we want the first time. Sometimes he wants to do something deeper before he raises us higher. A lot of times in my life, I've been more consumed with what it was costing me than what I was carrying. There was something significant about this man, and it was beyond any of their inkling of understanding what it would be. They thought, "Maybe our friend will get a miracle". They didn't know he would be a sermon illustration we'd be preaching about 2,000 years later. Now, is it possible that trying higher is just about you saying, "God, I know what I think needs to happen. I know where I think it's supposed to be. I know what I think was supposed to be the outcome…" Is it possible that the word of God for you today might be "Let go of the outcome and surrender to God in the process"?

That's how you try higher. Trying harder is you're going to force it, force it, force it. Sometimes you can even force something through the flesh that you'll be praying for God to take away later. Do you hear me? I'm anointed for somebody right now, and I don't know who it is. I hear God saying you don't have to pray louder or longer; pray larger. Priority. Who are you fighting for? They were fighting for their friend. If you're not fighting for anybody… "When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they gave up and went home". There was something after the comma that they cared about, and it was something they were carrying. It was somebody. There has to come a time in your life where you say, "I don't even want to do it for me right now, but maybe God wants to do something through me that's bigger than me. Maybe it's not always about me".

That's how you try higher. I should come back over here, because the third one I wrote down, if you're going to try higher, is partners. Put in the chat right now what you need prayer for, and they will pray for you before the next time you see me. Will you do that? I don't care how strong you are. One man doesn't get another man up on the roof like that. It's not going to happen without partners. Trying higher in this season isn't just you going into isolation and gritting your teeth and getting it done alone. That's why I want you in this church as much as you can get here: so we can get around each other, so you can pretend like you know how to sing because the person next to you can. I want that for you.

I don't want you to just try harder by yourself and the Devil just beats you half to death because you think you can do it all in isolation. You don't ask anybody, you don't join anything, and you don't listen to anybody. That's not trying higher; that's trying harder. Some men came carrying a man. Who is your crew to help you get it done, to carry it with you? You need to find somebody in your life who has figured out something you are frustrated with and tell them, "I'm coming up there. I'm coming up there with you. I'm coming up there because you know something. You know something I don't. I'm not going to stay down here, saying I tried everything, when I didn't even ask anybody to help me. I'm not doing this one more day by myself. I need some real partners. Some of the people I thought were my partners were actually the problem, so I need some new friends".

Sorry. I do need some new friends every once in a while. Then the Lord said something very interesting to me. The fourth one is permission. Permission isn't going to come from the Pharisees. Permission to live the way of Christ is not going to come from the culture. They will always call you crazy. But some of the things you're praying about right now you could make decisions about before the day is over. When Jesus told this man, "Take up your mat and walk…" If he gave him the command but did not give him the power, it would have been cruel of Jesus. So, when Jesus told the man, "Take up your mat and walk," he was acknowledging the man's problem but giving him the permission to live above it. I declare to you in the mighty name of Jesus that he has defeated death, sin, and the grave. Sin no longer is your master. It no longer has dominion over you.

"How do you know that, Pastor Steven"? Because when the man came in, he was lying on the mat; when he left, he was carrying it, and he didn't need anybody to carry him. If you're ready to get over some stuff the Enemy said you couldn't move past, give God a praise. That's my fifth P: praise. God said if we're going to do it in this season, like we need to do it in this season… "If you want to see me make a way, give me a praise for who I am, for what I've done, for what I brought you through". Everybody who owes God the praise, give it to him right now! I will give you 30 seconds to open your mouth and "bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me".

Try higher! Give him the greatest praise you ever gave him. Why not? Hallelujah! He's high and lifted up. Give him praise! Because they went higher, he got healed, and everybody praised God…everybody from the brokest to the richest, from the shortest to the tallest, from the newest to the oldest. Everybody praised God. Because with God there's always a way, and by faith I'll find it. You're going to find it. You just haven't looked high enough yet. It's there. I see a cloud the size of a man's hand. You just have to look up and keep looking up.

Father, I thank you for what I feel in this moment. I don't know who it's for, but somebody is going home a different way than they came. I establish that right now by faith. I anticipate the testimony I'm going to receive of people who came in lying on a mat and went home praising God, holding what used to hold them. I thank you right now that you're making ways for your children. As we praise, you are making ways.

Worship him. Jesus said, "All authority has been given to me". That means the Devil can't hold you. Yeah, open your mouth. This is the high way. When you worship and get your mind on him, that's the high way. Isaiah said, "For his thoughts are higher than your thoughts and his ways are higher than your ways". Praise makes a highway. Praise makes a highway for Yahweh. Come on. Let's build a highway for Yahweh in the wilderness. Let's go!
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