Steven Furtick - God Knows You Don't
Tell the person next to you, "I would tell you my testimony, but it would take too long". Tell them, "And it's kind of R rated if I told you the real one". You could scale it, couldn't you? PG-13. But we're here today to give God glory. One thing that I think is so cool about this time of year… This time of year, you're not coming to church because it's a New Year's resolution. This time of year, you're coming to church because of all of the Christians in the world, you're in the top 1 percent. As a matter of fact, you come to church the week before Thanksgiving, and it automatically subtracts 1,500 calories off of your meal. Isn't that good to know? Oh man, it's going to be good. Tell the person next to you, "Get a good look at me, and take a picture because I'm going to be a little heavier next time you see me. I'm planning on bulking a little bit".
It's bulking season. Let's clap our hands and thank God for the worship today. We're also preparing this time of year… I wanted to underscore our year-end offering on December 10. We're excited to be able to give to God. We're blessed to be a blessing. I have my offering ready already, and I'm excited to give it. It's the time of year where we say, "Thank you" to God for who he has been to us, who he is to us. We also declare with confidence that the Lord is our helper, and we're trusting him in the days to come. We say that with our lips, so the greatest thing we can do is to lean into that. The Bible says, "Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths".
I don't mind giving to God. I don't like paying taxes. I don't like paying even the gas bill, even though I appreciate the heat, but giving to God to build his church and his kingdom, to me, is always the greatest joy. So, I thank you in advance, all of you who are participating. We're calling it our trust offering, because we trust in God. It's our chance to declare that. December 10 is our official offering Sunday. You can go right now if you're online (elevationchurch.org), and we will believe God with you for great things to come. I decided to preach at the end of the year, all the way through the end of the year, around our faith. I know that sounds generic. Every message, in a sense, is about faith, but I wanted to zero back in on this Scripture in Hebrews, chapter 11. This same Scripture from last week in Hebrews, chapter 11, contains a pretty cool revelation for our lives.
Listen to this, verses 8 and following. "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith Abraham, even though he was [too old to have children]—and Sarah herself was [not able to conceive]—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them".
The title for this message is very simple. I'm calling this message God Knows You Don't. You know these little things we say when we're leading up to something? The other day, my friend was about to give an opinion, and before they said the thing they wanted to say, they said, "Now I'm no doctor, but…" And when they got done saying the rest of it, I was like, "No, go back to the first part. I'm so shocked you're not a doctor. We've been friends 20 years. I thought you were a doctor". Just kind of a little throwaway thing you say just to say, "This may be completely stupid and irrelevant, and don't fact check me on it, but I want to say what I think anyway". I'm like, "I know you're not a doctor". Isn't it amazing how much time we spend trying to hide, trying to hope, and maybe hold out some aspiration that people won't see our deepest needs?
In the year 1978, a phrase was coined in psychology called imposter syndrome. It was used to describe people who had great achievements but had a hard time believing they achieved those things. It was almost as if they thought they got those things by luck or by external circumstances. Because of their ability to depersonalize their accomplishments, they had a very difficult time integrating their successes into their identity. So, although they were in positions of power, they felt very weak. Although they were in positions of influence, they felt insignificant. And the term imposter syndrome was coined. Later it would be called fraudulence complex, a different shade of the same color. But its meaning is not as clinical as something like anxiety or depression. It's just a feeling you can get sometimes that "I don't know what I'm doing, and I hope nobody else ever finds out".
That feeling you get when you're raising your kids, and you hope they never find out how much of this you are making up as you go, because if they ever did, they might turn the tables, and they might run the house, because you know no more than they do. The interesting thing about even saying stuff like that in a church is that this is a place that is branded for certainty. "For we know that our Redeemer lives. We know we have this hope. We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God". One of the things that always frustrated me about my own preaching was that God would always lead me to preach messages that were less about certainty and more about the mystery, the mystery of knowing God has put something inside of me, but spending so much of my waking life doubting that very fact.
A moment ago, we were singing a song that said, "That's why I trust in God". One time, Jesus asked an interesting question of Peter, because Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on water and all of a sudden started thrashing when he saw the wind and the waves. Jesus said, "Why did you doubt"? It's kind of the flip side of what we were singing. "That's why I trust him: because he healed my cancer. That's why I trust him: because when my money was low, he made provision for me in a very unusual way. That's why I trust him: because I sensed his presence when others walked away. That's why I trust him: because he gave me the strength to carry on another day". Then into this certainty confession comes the question of Jesus.
If you have so many reasons to trust him, why did you doubt him? Specifically, why would you doubt him now? When, like Abraham, you find yourself in a situation… The Bible says that Abraham (verse 8) was called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance. He obeyed and went, even though he didn't know where he was going. It is easy for us to take the summary of Abraham's journey and resound and resonate with the general principle that sometimes God will call you to go even though you don't know where you're going. It is much more difficult to live as if this is true for you. God will sometimes call you to obey something today that he will explain much later. I'm going to say it again. The testimony of my life is that, many times, God has called me to obey today something he will explain later.
The space between obeying today and God explaining later is called faith. That space is called faith. That thing you are unsure of and uncertain about is no reason for you to turn your back on God now. In fact, your uncertainty is God's job security. If you knew it all, he would have nothing left to do. If you had it all figured out, he would have nothing left to work out. I know we want to pretend like we love God just because he's beautiful and lovely and holy, but the truth is if we thought we knew what we were doing, we wouldn't talk to him very much. So, God will leave these uncertainties in our lives in order to teach us to lean on him. I've been preaching along those lines the last several weeks and, really, for the last 17 years of pastoring this church. It's just true.
Now write these things down, because I want us to understand a little bit about God's promises. A lot of times, when we talk about the promises of God, what we mean is the positive outcomes we want. So, we'll say, "God never breaks a promise. God always keeps his promises," but in our mental paradigm of what that means, it's that God will always give us the outcome we consider positive. What I've learned about God's promises… God's promise will often be… I'm going to give you three things. Write these down. God's promise will often be different than you pictured, slower than you wanted, and farther than you thought. I thought I'd mention these three things today. God's promise will be different than you pictured, slower than you wanted, and farther than you thought.
So, Abraham gets to the Promised Land. God speaks to him. He's like, "I'm going to bless you. You're going to be a blessing. I'm taking you to a place. It's going to be amazing". Abraham gets there, and did you notice what the Scripture said? He lived in tents in the place of promise. That's where I left off last week. It is a picture of a man who is living smack dab in the place God promised him, in the place God would give his descendants, but he's living there temporarily in tents. I was trying to get you to see that sometimes you can actually be there but not feel there, be blessed but feel stressed.
You say, "I'm too blessed to be stressed". No. You'll be blessed and stressed. You live in tents. You live in tension between the truth God spoke and the things you don't know. So, to say I have joy as a promise from God does not mean I will not have depression as a human experience. One time a lady said to me, "I don't want to listen to a pastor who preaches that it's okay to have depression. My Bible says, 'Rejoice in the Lord.'" My thing about that is to have the joy of the Lord, to claim the joy of the Lord, and to know the joy of the Lord and still feel depressed from time to time is not hypocrisy; it's humanity. We live in tents. And the tent you live in will often, especially when you have a great big calling on your life, contradict the truth you're believing. Your situation will challenge your faith. In these moments, it could be as if you feel you are an imposter.
I imagine Abraham rolling up on the Promised Land like, "Hey, God told me he was going to give me this," but none of the Canaanites who were living in the land knew about that. None of the Jebusites knew about that. None of the Hittites, Amorites, or Perizzites (and since it's Thanksgiving, cellulites) got the memo that this land belonged to Abraham. Do you know what blew my mind? As long as he lived in this land, it was never really his. Technically speaking, there was never a transfer of the deed of the land in his lifetime, or Isaac's. It would not be until the time when, many generations later, these nations would possess this land that the promise God made Abraham would evolve into the bigger picture he had all along.
So, don't judge your life by the frame; judge it by your faith. The Lord was speaking to me about some things that are different than I pictured right now. I'll give you an example. I've shared it before. I remember when we said we were going to have 100,000 people in the church. We do, but most of them don't come to buildings. I'd like to welcome our eFam all over the world, joining us online right now. See, maybe in my mind I saw that looking one way. It looks different. As a matter of fact, do you know the first time we had 100,000 people on one Sunday? When there were five people in the building for COVID. That was different than I pictured. So, God told me something he was going to do, I believed it by faith, and it was different than I pictured. When you get there, it's going to be different than you pictured. When you get to impact and influence… Everybody wants to be an influencer.
Influence does not always look like followers. Influence does not always look like sponsorship. Influence does not always look like friends. Sometimes influence looks like something you invest now for something God is going to bring to pass later, but you have to sow it by faith. So, I'm framing this situation by faith, knowing that I don't see everything God has called me to see. Even this Ballantyne building… I said it's different than you pictured and slower than you wanted. We were on a two-year delay moving into this building. A two-year delay from when we thought we were going to move in. One of the issues in the delay was a mussel that the Environmental Protection Agency said might be on the property. The Carolina Heelsplitter mussel, if I remember correctly. They had to check for six months to see if there was a mussel on the land before we could build this building. The mussel wasn't even here, but we had to clear the land of the potential of a mussel. I never thought a mussel would cost me six months. We already paid for the land.
Now I'm just paying on something I can't even participate in because of a mussel, because of a little thing, because of something I never saw coming. You know, you can get one text that will back up your whole timeline. One virus can shut down a whole… But watch this. We got in the building two years later. It was slower than I wanted. It was different than I pictured, but when I welcome people online from nations all over the world, it's going farther than I thought. God says, "I've got a blessing for you, and when you get to it, be ready, because it's going to be different than you pictured. It might be slower than you wanted, but it's going to go farther than you thought. This is a big blessing. This one is going to ripple. This one is going to reach farther than just your house. I'm going to use you to bless others".
Doesn't being a grown-up feel different than you thought a grown-up felt? I'm just keeping it real. Isn't it different than you pictured being a grown-up? "Nobody is going to tell me what to do". Except your boss, the IRS, and, depending on your marital arrangements, maybe the person you sleep next to. The verse touched me because it said, "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going". God knows where you're going. Let the one who set the destination control the ETA. You've been needing it to happen sooner, wanting it to happen sooner, thinking it should have happened sooner. It happened for all of your friends sooner. God knows. A lot of times, even when we compare ourselves to others we have no idea the burden they carry for the blessing that we envy.
One of my buddies has this saying. He says, "A lot of the people you envy are secretly miserable". You don't know. You don't know what the people you are jealous of juggle, and you don't know how they're judged. Remember that young man who was saying he was suicidal the other day? We couldn't believe it because he is so envied, so influential, but deep down in his heart he seeks the peace that many of you possess. You would envy him for where he is and not know that where you are is where he's trying to get. I just want to talk about this today. I want to talk about the lies of arrival, that it's out there somewhere and that when you get there it's going to feel a certain way. Maybe I should say it like this: there are no penthouses in the Promised Land.
Abraham journeys hundreds of miles. He has a caravan of hundreds of people. He's responsible for a lot. He's carrying a lot, not only in the sense of the nations that will come forth from him but also the uncertainty he's walking in. He must feel a little bit like an imposter. Then he gets there. I said this last week, but I said it shouting so I don't think anybody really heard it. So now I'm going to say it again, but I'm not going to shout it; I'm just going to say it. He's a father of many nations, but he looks like a nomad. You can look like a nomad and actually be carrying a nation. You can look like a nobody but actually be carrying something. See, God knows what's in you; you don't. God knows who's important; you don't. God knows what needs to happen next; you don't. You just don't. You think you do, but you don't. And neither does ChatGPT.
Hold on. I did an experiment. Hang tight. I asked ChatGPT, "Who is coming to church today on the fourth row in the third seat"? ChatGPT said, "As an AI, I don't have access to real-time or location-specific information, including details about who might be attending your church service or where they might be sitting. This kind of information is typically not available publicly and would be known only to those present at the service or those with direct knowledge of the attendees". So, I just want to echo what ChatGPT said. Nobody around you really knows what you need from God today. Even if you told them, it still wouldn't scratch the surface, because sometimes you don't even know. How can someone know a man except the spirit of a man? And the Spirit of God has direct knowledge on you.
Oh yeah. Not only what you struggle with but why you struggle with it. Not only why you struggle with it but how you can be set free from it. Not only how you can be set free from it… I'm preaching to somebody…fourth row, third seat. The Holy Ghost knows you're sitting there today for a reason, for a revelation, for a release of the Spirit of God that will lead you into a ripple that might be slower than you want, but it's going to go farther than you thought, because if he spoke it… God knows something you don't know. He knows something you don't know. That's why you didn't die, because he knows something you don't know. That's why you came to church even though you didn't fall asleep until 4:00 a.m. But you got up sleepy and flicked those eye buggers off the corners of your eyes and grabbed your Bible and said, "Devil, God knows what I need. I've got to get in the presence of my Father". "In my Father's house there are many mansions. If it were not so, he would have told me. But he's going to prepare a place for me".
ChatGPT doesn't know that. Oh, by the way, the people who rejected you don't know that. Sometimes we think we need something, and God knows we don't. In Matthew 6:31, Jesus said, "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'" God forgive me. I changed clothes four or five times coming out here to preach today. To be fair, people pick on what I wear, so now I get up here and don't even know what to wear. I don't know what to wear anymore. "For the pagans run after all these things…" Oh, God, I don't want to be a pagan. "…and your heavenly Father knows…" From his point of view, it looks different. "…your heavenly Father knows that you need them". That you need these things. He not only knows the things you need; God knows you don't. God knows what I need; God knows what I don't. He knows which opportunities are really just obstructions and camouflage.
When I say that he knows… Imagine Abraham now, going into the land God showed him, going into it but living in a tent, getting there but not feeling there, getting there but not looking there. I love the text, because it's saying that by faith I can tap into what God knows that I don't. God knows this relationship looks good to me but is not good for me. God knows; you don't. Many of the things you interpreted in your life as they left you because of something that was less about you… It wasn't that it was less about you; it was that where God is leading you now, he knows what you don't need that would keep you from being… Now, I'm going to show you where my mind went when I read the text, because there are three strange things I saw. I was looking at two words in the text for my emphasis: by faith.
In verse 8, it says, "By faith Abraham…" In verse 11, it says, "By faith Abraham…" Then again in a verse I did not read you, but it says it again… Verse 17: "By faith Abraham…" So, my mind was magnetized to look for the words by faith, because we are saved by faith. We are changed by faith. We are sustained by faith. Our lives are explained by faith. I don't think there's anything you need today that you can't get more of by having more faith. If you need more provision, more faith will give you more focus to see what God has already provided. Out of what God has already provided, you will have what you lack. So, if you need more of anything, you need more faith. It is the access point. By faith. If you need more peace, you need more faith, because if you can truly believe "Nobody exits my life without God dismissing them," you'll have more peace when people leave.
Even when people say stupid stuff that offends you Thursday around the table… If you need more love in your home, or something like that, get more faith. If they say something stupid, just pray silently under your breath, "God, show them how stupid that was," and let the Holy Spirit show them. See how I just helped you out? I gave you more love around the table, less drama. You're going to have less to repent for Thursday night just because you have more faith. The beautiful thing about it is as much as these two words by faith in the Scripture lead to everything we need, there's another one. I don't know how this is going to come out, but I just want to show you, because it also happens three times in the same three verses. It says a very peculiar two words that I think many of us are living in right now. Holy Spirit, help me deliver this to your people.
Verse 8: "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though…" Verse 11: "By faith Abraham, even though…" Verse 17: "By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promise was about to sacrifice his one and only son…" Verse 18: "…even though…" Are you living in an "even though" moment? That's where faith really grows. In verse 8 it was, "He went even though he didn't know". Are you in an "even though I don't know" moment right now? "I've got to take this next step even though I don't know what the one after that is". "I have got to leave here even though I don't know where there is". "I have got to show up for this again, because God hasn't shown me what to do after, and I'm not quitting what he gave me until he shows me what's next, so I'm going to do it even though".
I just feel God hijacking my whole outline right now. Some of you think you are going to know everything that comes after the next step, but Abraham went and obeyed when he was called even though he didn't know where that was. You don't have to have coordinates. You don't have to have a specific address. You can go even though you don't know. I promise you can. I have done it time after time as your pastor. The first building we ever raised money for was not a building at all. We raised three million dollars in our first financial campaign for a building we believed God would bring us.
When that first group of about 120 leaders that now spans thousands of people who give knelt down in the parking lot of the Sofa Express and Ashley Furniture shopping center, I told them, "We thought we were going to get this building, but we're not going to get this building, because somebody blocked us in their lease that they don't want a church to meet here," they got down on their knees, and we prayed that God would show us a building, but they sowed into it before God showed it. They gave so lives could be changed, they gave so you could be here, and they gave so this gospel could go out all over the world, not knowing how but knowing who. So, if you are in an "even though" moment, and you think you need every turn before you can take the next one, you are confused. Our faith is not in the destination; our faith is in the guide who will see us safely to the destination.
So, I wrote a statement that you can have for free. I won't charge you royalties. You don't even have to give me credit. I will go as if I'm guided even though I feel I'm guessing. Don't you feel like you're guessing sometimes? Don't you feel like you are guessing at this sometimes? I finally got to interview my favorite preacher 10 years ago. I asked, "What is the most important thing I need to know about standing behind a pulpit"? He said, "We're all guessing". None of us have seen God. It takes faith to preach. It takes faith to parent. It takes faith to lead. It takes faith to go back to school. It takes faith to stay in therapy. I was in five years of therapy, and I said, "This isn't working," until I realized some of the things that didn't feel like they were working for me God was using in my children's lives.
About the time I wanted to quit therapy, one of my kids came to me and started giving me the advice my therapist gave me that I had given to them, not even knowing. God knows why you're in it; you don't. God knows what he's going to do through it; you don't. God knows who he wants to help through your life; you don't. God knows what he's building. God knows your foundation. He is the architect. He is the builder. He has the blueprint of every blessing in your life. He has the purpose. He drew the picture. Oh, I feel like preaching this to help somebody know that you can go not knowing, that you can contribute not knowing, that you can keep preaching while people are leaving, that you can just do it, that you can just live, that you can just praise, that you can just testify, that you can just boldly grab hold of the altar and say, "For God I live"! "By faith, even though".
If God has got you in an "even though" moment right now, where your truth says one thing but your tent says another thing, you can stay right in the promise even though you have no proof. "I'm staying in this promise in the absence of proof". I feel like this is a fighting word today. I don't know what we're fighting, but I'll fight with you. You need some backup? I don't know what has been coming up in your mind. I don't know what has been trying to drag you back down into it. I don't know what has been trying to take over your house, steal your joy, eliminate your peace, and erode your confidence in God, but you're not in this faith fight by yourself. Not today! I've been lifting. I've been bulking. I've got a word from God! "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me".
I've got a rod. I've got a staff. I've got goodness. I've got mercy. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever! He lived in a tent even though he was in the place of the promise. He was in the place of the promise even though he lived in a tent. Different than what you pictured, slower than what you wanted, but in that tent was Isaac. Not yet. He hadn't even been born yet, and he was in the tent already, because when God puts a seed of something in you, that seed is in you before you see it. You've been praying for your kids? You've been praying for your opportunity? You've been praying for something to happen that you need to happen that only God can do? The seed was there before they could see it. Even though I can't see it right now… "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow…"
Shadow makes it very difficult for you to get a visual. But even though he did not know… See, it's that second even though where it says in verse 11, "Even though he was too old". Don't tune me out if you're 13, because everybody has something that the Devil has been telling them "You are too…" I don't let the Devil tell me I'm too old to be relevant. First of all, I'm not. He tells me I'm too stupid. He tells me I'm too country. He does. He tells me I'm too weird. He tells me I'm too raggedy. He tells me all of these things. But look at what the Bible said God did for Abraham. Would he do this for you too? "By faith Abraham, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was not able to conceive—was enabled to become father…"
I have to read you what the Bible actually says about him. He became a father of many nations. He lived like a nomad. "And so from this one man…" Look at what the Bible says about Abraham. "…and he as good as dead…" That's about how people will see you. That's not what God said about Abraham. "Look at that nomad living up here in this promised land, thinking he belongs here. He's as good as dead". Next time somebody tries to limit you… I've had people tell me I was a poor Bible teacher. I've had people tell me I was not cut out to be a pastor. I've had people tell me I wouldn't be able to come up with a new sermon every week…all of that. I wish I would have known this sermon to tell them at the time. "God knows; you don't". You don't know. I don't even know.
God knows where you're going even though you don't, so follow him step by step. God knows what he has given you even though you are too [whatever]…old, young. That's what Timothy said. "I'm too young". Paul said, "Don't let anybody look down on you because of your youth. Set an example for the believers in life, love, speech, faith, godliness, and purity". Don't let anybody put their too on you, because they don't know. You've been divorced too many times. Think how much you've learned that you can help other people who have been through divorce. You've paid the tuition. You might as well teach the class. God knows; you don't. Even the passage we don't like to preach a lot because it says that Abraham took his son Isaac and laid him down on the altar… He thought he was going to have to kill his only son, even after waiting 25 years.
That's how long it took between God speaking it and him seeing it. We quit too quickly. We have microwave mindsets, and we serve a crockpot God. So, it might be slower than you wanted, but from this boy Isaac came the nations that would inhabit this very land Abraham was living in. I want you to see him on Mount Moriah. I want you to see him build the altar. I want you to see him lay his son Isaac on the altar, who he waited for a quarter century of his life, a quarter of his life. He was 100 at that point. He waited this long, yet at the moment that he thought he was going to have to give up what God promised him, there was a ram in the bush that he didn't know about, but God knew.
God knew the moment the ram would need to be in the bush for Abraham to make the sacrifice. Whatever has been withheld from your life, whatever seems like it is behind in your life, whatever seems like the Enemy has taken it out of your life, can you trust the timing of God in this moment enough to know that he knows? "He knows what I need, when I need it, and if it didn't come yet, it wasn't time yet". But somebody who knows it's time by faith for you to take the next step when you can't see beyond it, stand up and give God praise by faith! There is a praise that comes by faith even though! My favorite Bible verse is when the sister came to Jesus and said, "I know my brother will rise again at the last day". And Jesus said, "Last day? I am the resurrection and the life, and whoever believes in me will live even though he die".
We're living in the "even though," and our job today is to trust God as if, even though. I don't know your "even though"; God does. God knows the "even though" you're going through. I just want to encourage you today through a camera I never knew I'd be looking into, pastoring a church I never saw, but God did, that he knows; you don't. And I want to tell you about all the stuff you keep telling God for why you're not qualified because you don't have the experience. God knows you don't. That you don't have the resources. God knows you don't. That you don't have the background for that. God knows you don't. That you don't feel like it right now. God knows you don't. That you don't have the strength. God knows you don't. That you don't know how to manage money. God knows you don't. That you don't have any friends who will really listen to you. God knows you don't. That you don't see a way through this right now. God knows you don't.
But just because you can't see it does not mean he didn't speak it. For everybody who is stepping through it even though, I want to pray for you. Just put your hand on your heart like this. God knows what's in there; you don't. That's why it's so important that you don't give up. God knows where you're going; you don't. God knows what he hopes to accomplish through your life if you will stay in faith; you don't. Admitting that you don't know is where faith has the chance to grow. So, as I minister this message, I don't do it lightly today. I have felt myself the imposter. "God, who would I be to share this message of hope when I myself am drowning in despair"? I've felt that. "Who am I to tell them this? I don't know anything about the second coming of Christ or when it's going to happen". "I don't speak Greek or Hebrew or Latin or French". But God said, "I'll speak the language they need if you will stand".
This promise is for you and your children. It's going to be different than you pictured. It might be slower than you wanted. There might be some Carolina Heelsplitter mussels on your land, some Canaanites, some Hittites, some Jebusites, but let patience have its perfect work in you, that you may be complete, lacking nothing, because it's going to go farther than you thought. As God told Abraham, "Count the stars if you are able. Number the sands on the seashore if you can count them. So shall your descendants be," I declare so shall the ripple effect be of your obedience in this season for generations not yet to be born that will be free because of your faith in this moment. God, we stand in the "even thoughs". Oh, I like that. So many "even thoughs" in the room. Your Word says, "All things work together for good," even those we wouldn't have chosen. I thank you by faith. I praise you for grace for this season, this moment, this stage of our lives. In Jesus' name.
The greatest miracle of faith of all is that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Can you believe it? Even though your sins were as crimson, they can be washed white as snow. Even though we did not deserve his grace… God knows you don't deserve his grace, but he gave it anyway. He gave it on the cross, and you can receive it right now by faith. I want to give an invitation for those who are in need of a relationship with Jesus today. Whether it's 3 or 3,000, I want to stop this whole service so you can place your faith in God. He has already done the work. It's finished. It's accomplished. It's settled. It's done. The final word has been spoken. The only work left to do is for you to believe.
The Scripture says that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. This is the promise. Receive it by faith. Today, if you're ready to make that decision to come to Christ or come back to him, I'm going to lead you in a prayer right now. We're going to pray it out loud for the benefit of those who are coming to God for the first time or coming back to God. I want everybody in this room to pray with me for the benefit of those whose moment this is, their new beginning. Pray with me:
Heavenly Father, I am a sinner in need of a Savior, and I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world, and today I make Jesus the Lord of my life. I believe he died that I would be forgiven and rose again to give me life. I receive this new life. This is my new beginning.
If you prayed that, put your hand up on the count of three. One, two, three. All over this room, on every location, online… God bless you. We celebrate you. We celebrate for you. Online, you can put it in the chat. "I received Jesus". We celebrate with you online. If you just gave your life to Christ, stop by the tents on your way out or click on the link if you're online. We have a gift we want to give you. Let's put our hands together and thank God for his Word all over the house. Come on, all over the world! God knows; you don't.
I pray God would surprise you this week, show you something you don't know. I pray God will give you stuff this Christmas season that isn't even on your list. I pray God will give you stuff you gave up on. I pray God will make you laugh again. I pray God will enable you to see with fresh eyes again, God will put a love and a bond in your relationships again, God will give you fresh eyes to see what you've been walking past. I pray that he who is able to do immeasurably more than you ask or imagine would work mightily on your behalf.
Can we join hands all over this room and pray for our neighbors, our sons, our daughters, our cousins, our sisters, our brothers? You're going to get this envelope on the way out. Put some money in it, big money. Trust God. Help us build this church. One of my friends told me recently the only hour each week that he knows he's going to feel good is when he gets in here. Can you believe we get to do that for people? Some of y'all gave your life to Christ in here. Some of your kids did. For some of you, this is a connection to God for you. Let's connect others. Let's never be selfish. We're blessed to be a blessing. I want to participate in this with you.
Father, we thank you for our connection with you. We will never be without as long as you are with us. I thank you for every "even though" in this room that will be a testimony by your grace of a "God did" in the future. We declare it. We decree it. We call it done. We thank you for who you are, and we bless your people as they go. No fights. No politics. Supernatural carb cancellation this Thanksgiving. In Jesus' name, amen.