Steven Furtick - Getting Out of Survival Mode
This is an excerpt from: It's Mine To Manage
It's different when you're in the middle of it. It's different when you're raising your kids, believing that they're receiving the values that you're trying to impart to them. Because when you are teaching your kids responsibility, they do not thank you and recognize you for being a voice of wisdom and an encouraging force of good in their lives. It's different when you're in the middle of it. And see, the reason that we can sometimes look at the Biblical miracles and experience them, and celebrate them, is because we know how they end. But it's different when you're in the middle of it.
It's different when you're in the middle of it. When you were having to stand in the middle of something and say,know, God, I know that you're faithful, and I know that You're good. But I don't feel that You're faithful, and I don't feel that You're good right now. That's called a sacrifice of praise. That's where you have to dig somewhere deeper than your feelings, or your knowledge, or your certainty, or your circumstance, or your bank account. "God, show me how to manage the middle. I have a hard time with that. I don't have a hard time being excited about the beginning. And I don't have a hard time celebrating the end. But, this middle. Teach me how to manage the middle".
Oh, one of my best friends pastors a big church, and they had three years where they didn't grow. In fact, they went backward. I said, "What was the problem in those three years when you didn't grow"? He said, "Middle management. We got so large the organization got so big, that there was a layer of people in the middle who started to block the values that were a part of the organization in the early days. And it was middle management. It wasn't the people that were executing the job. It wasn't the vision had changed. It was what happened in the middle that almost cost us the momentum of what God was doing".
I wonder is that how it happens in our lives? I wonder if sometimes the reason that joy stops flowing, the reason that faith stops growing, the reason that sometimes we lose our sense of perspective about who God is, is it's not the end. It's not the beginning. It's middle management. We don't know how to manage the middle. We don't know how to deal with Monday, so we shout good on Sunday. But I need a MMA sermon. I need some Monday morning application. I need something to help me manage this middle, because I'm not fighting the devil on Sunday morning. I'm fighting him on Tuesday at 3:37.
So the key to this, Joshua says, take twelve stones, January, February, March, April, May June, July, August, September, October, November, December. Twelve months, twelve stones. Twelve tribes, twelve disciples. Twelve, everybody say twelve. Take twelve, pile them up. And in the future, when your children asked you, "What's up with these stones"? Or like my kids ask me, "What's up with these cassette tapes"? I still got some. When your children ask you, tell them what the Lord did. Tell 'em. Tell 'em. Take 'em to, show 'em the stones and tell 'em. We didn't know if we were gonna make it through. But God did something only He could do. And we made it. Somebody shout, "I made it". Tell the person next to you, "You have no idea what I've been through". Look at 'em right in the eye, and say, "And God brought me over".
Let's play the story out for a moment. They come through the Jordan. God brings them through. They set up the stones. God does a great miracle. They go on to fight battles. But they set up the stones to remember what God did in that moment. It's really beautiful. And then they go forward into the land and they fight, they fight many battles, and God gives them many victories. But every once in a while, maybe they come back with their kids. And they show them the stones, because they left the stones and Gilgal and then they moved on to conquer Canaan.
And you know how it is when somebody is reflecting on something and they get nostalgic. And maybe the parents start telling the children, We didn't know if we were going to make it. Joshua was our new leader and we'd never been this way before. And he told us, he told us that if the priests would stand in the middle the waters would stand at attention until the people passed through. So we hurried through as fast as we could. We ran through. The Bible says in Joshua 4:21, They hurried through, they didn't have a whole lot of faith, just enough to get through it. They weren't dancing through the middle. They were running through the middle.
Let me tell you something, when you've got the devil chasing you, sometimes all you can do is get through it. You don't look flashy. You're not shooting, you're not flossing, you're not doing nothing but running for your life. So they got through it. But they said, God got us through it. That's amazing. Amazing, because we didn't know it was amazing. And the Ark was there and it represented the presence of God. I wish you could have been there son. It was just so amazing. And and we didn't know if we were going to be able to do it. But we did. God did it. It wasn't us.
Say, "God did it". Okay. And they say that and then so maybe a few years go by, maybe they go back to the place again. And they look at the stones, but, you know, maybe, maybe the stones are, they're still there. They haven't gone anywhere. But the story starts to get lost a little bit. And maybe a few years later, they're telling their children they're like, Oh, yeah, it's pretty cool. I mean, we got through it. I mean, God did it. But we were the ones who had to walk because, you know, like, God didn't, God didn't carry us through. But but we got through it. And then a few more years pass, and maybe they're telling their kids again making another trip and they tell him Yeah, those stones they're cool. Joshua made us get them out the middle of the Jordan, it was weird, we were ready to move on but Joshua.
Let me tell you how I know that the story stopped being told, because when you get to the end of Joshua's life, you read in Judges 2:10, just this verse, just this verse I want to show you and I want you to think about the space between when Joshua lead the people through the Jordan and when the next generation arose. It says, That after that whole generation, Joshua's generation, had been gathered to their ancestors. Another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel. Joshua's generation set up the stones, the next generation didn't even know the story.
What happened? Somewhere along the way between Joshua 4, and Judges 2, they stopped telling the story. Something changed about the story. Somewhere in that space, and God if I'm just preaching this for one person help me to do it now, because they had been telling themselves the wrong story. And now their faith is feeling feeble. And now their worship has been weakened, and they are in a cycle of dependence on false gods because they stopped telling the story.
The story of salvation is this: "I was lost and dead in my sin. I had no hope in myself. I could not save myself. I could not help myself. I could not lift myself. I would not have made it if He had not reached down, and with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. He died for me. He came into my life, He intersected me at the point of my sin, and while I was still a sinner Christ died for me".
Why are you screaming? 'Cause I've got a story that didn't start with me. It started with the mercy of God. And the enemy doesn't want you to tell this story, see he wants he wants you to lose your testimony. They kept the stones, the stones are still there to this day, but they stopped telling the story. You know you can have all of the, the, the monuments of religion, but lose your relationship with God. You can have all the stones in the world. You can come to church, you can still live a life that's between the lies, but if the truth were told today, some of us have stopped telling the story. We've lost our testimony.
You have a testimony. There are things that God has done for you, that only He could do, and nobody else can tell it for you. And nobody else can tell it like you. It can happen. It can happen in your own heart. It can happen in a generation. It can happen within a lifetime. It can happen within three years, you can actually have God do something amazing for you, and have the stones to prove it. Some of you are sitting next to the woman that you ask God to give you. But now you want out of your marriage. The problem isn't your marriage, it's your management.
I'll go back here, 'cause I'm not scared to say this stuff. We need to manage our miracles. God has been good to us. God has been more than enough. He is the provider. He is Jehovah Jireh, He did bring you through. He did bless you. He did make a way. He is more than enough. He is El Shaddai. He is a great king. He is a good Father. Touch somebody, say, Manage your miracle. It's God's to give, but it's yours to manage. I told Elijah if you crack the screen, I'm not replacing it. It's yours to manage. If you crack the screen or if you... here's what happens to me.
Let me tell you something. Sit down. Let's talk. I stopped telling myself the testimony because to me, sometimes it seems, it seems small. You know, something happened between when they cross the Jordan, I don't know exactly what it is. I think there's a evidence to support this hypothesis. They fought a lot of battles between Joshua 4, and Judges 2, and I wonder if the battles became bigger in their minds than the blessings. And I wonder if they started telling themselves the stories that centered around their struggles, rather than God's sovereign hand that saw them through the struggles. I wonder if they got in survival mode to the point that they stopped telling the story.