Steven Furtick - Even When You Don't Feel God
This is an excerpt from: The Restriction Has Been Lifted
So, now we have a conversation we need to have. Not how much God loves you. That's set. Guess what. We don't even need to talk about if God is with you. His presence is set. You think you can run God off? "I just don't know. I don't feel God's presence". What does that have to do…? Feeling God's presence is not a factual indication of whether God's presence has left you or not. Do you know why you're not feeling his presence? Because you're not saying any prayers. "Yes, I do. I pray every day". No. You close your eyes, you worry, and you call it prayer.
Nice little Christmas message I brought you today. No, I want to help people. I'm past the point in my life of wanting to be a religious entertainer. The fact is what I saw studying the passage… I was so consumed with this cloud. I was like, "Yes, Lord. Lead me, God. Show me where the water is. Show me where the food is. Show me where the opportunity is. Show me the money. Show me the ministry. Show me, God. Show me, show me". The Lord was like, "What good did it do them to have the cloud? When they finally got where I was taking them, they didn't have the courage to do it". So don't ask for the cloud. Ask for the courage to go forward in knowing that he's with you. "Okay, Lord. I'll do it. Just give me a confirmation. Lord, I'm just waiting for a confirmation that it is your will for me to give in this offering". "Okay, cool. I confirmed it on Calvary when I gave my only begotten Son".
One guy was asking me, "What do you do when you don't clearly know what God wants you to preach"? My answer was really surprising to me and to him, because I do know what that feels like. I know what that feels like. I said, "I get my hair cut". He goes, "Uh…" I said, "No, I just thought about it. What do I do when I don't know what God has called me to preach? I get my hair cut". When I get in the chair to get my hair cut, it symbolizes the decision that Sunday I'm expecting to say something, and that sends the signal to the Holy Spirit. "Oh! He's going to show up, so now you show up". When I make the decision to be here, it's as simple as a haircut. I know that doesn't sound deep. I know I should study Greek. I know I should speak in tongues. I know I should do all that, but sometimes that doesn't work for me, so I say, "It's time for a haircut," because of what the haircut means. The haircut means "I'm going to do this".
The haircut means I'm not staying in my pajamas and eating Oreos and having Communion with Oreos and orange juice Sunday and calling in a guest. I'm going to preach. Then after I get my hair cut, I pick out my clothes, and I put them to the side. You know that little valet you gave me about seven years ago? I still have it in my closet. It's my Sunday clothes. I keep it there. When I go put my clothes over on that little thing in my closet, the Devil says, "Uh-oh. He's doing it. We tried to discourage him all week. It didn't work. You see that fresh fade? Furtick is planning to preach". Come on.
"You see them getting up and signing up for classes? That means they're doing it. You see them signing up for counseling? That means uh-oh, it didn't work. I tried to keep them out, tried to keep them down, tried to tell them, 'Go home; it's over,' but watch them. They're picking out their clothes. They're picking out their next course. They're sending the text. They're showing up. They're downloading the sermon. Uh-oh! They're joining the gym. Uh-oh! They're lacing their shoes. Uh-oh! They're doing it".
Now God can show you what to do because you've decided, "I'm doing it". So, it's not how much of his presence you have; it's how much of his power you want, because power is attracted to presence. You have to show up. "I'm showing up, and I'm doing it, and I won't be the same. Now, God, what are we doing? I'm doing it, so what are we doing"? Even when the cloud came down, watch what happened. Moses couldn't go into the tent when the cloud came at the door. That's kind of weird, God. You're trying to block your servant with your presence? But Moses had restrictions. Don't get me wrong. Moses was one of the greatest leaders who ever lived, but even Moses could only go so far. Even Moses could only do so much.
I told you this was a Christmas Scripture, and I'm going to prove it to you right now. I never realized until I saw Moses in the Scriptures of Exodus, chapter 40, how he was only pointing to the Messiah who would be born millennia after his life ended. I will prove it to you succinctly but thoroughly. Watch this. Both Moses and Jesus were babies. So far we have not narrowed the field much, as that applies to most humans. Let's go a little bit deeper. Both Moses and Jesus were a part of a political threat that extinguished the lives of every Hebrew boy under the age of 2. Do you remember how Pharaoh tried to kill every 2-year-old-and-under boy who was born in the time of Moses? Do you remember how Herod in the New Testament tried to kill the one who was born king of the Jews, but since he couldn't find him, he had to kill everything around him?
The Enemy will attack stuff around you and circumstances, but it's not about what's around you; it's about what's in you, because Jesus, the Messiah, was born. So, they both had to survive an assassination attempt before they were 2 years old. Moses and Jesus both had that in common. Moses was laid in a basket that was woven with straw, and Jesus was laid in a manger that was filled with straw. Moses came up out of Egypt to deliver his people, and Jesus came up out of Egypt to deliver his people. Moses brought the Ten Commandments from the mountain, and Jesus went up on a mountain and taught the 10 Beatitudes. Moses saw the glory of God, but this is where Moses is different than the Messiah. This is where Moses can only take you so far. This is where leadership can only get you so far, unless it comes from the Lord. Moses said, "Show me your glory," and Jesus said, "I am the glory of God".
Do you not know John 1:14? "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth". The word dwelt literally means tabernacle. Don't you see what Jesus was doing that Moses couldn't do? Don't you see what Christmas really is as opposed to what we thought it was? We thought Christmas was a nice comforting thought. We thought Christmas was God coming to say, "It's very nice to meet you. I'm sending a baby, because who doesn't love babies"? Don't you see this coming full form? Don't you see that the nation of Israel was in the womb of the wilderness, becoming the nation God would bless the earth through, just like Jesus was born in the womb of Mary to save his people from their sins?
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us". What does that mean? He tabernacled in the middle of the wilderness. He tabernacled in the middle of my sin, and he was born in the straw to save me from my sin. This is Christmas. It is God saying, "Because I am here…" Immanuel means God with us. That is his intimacy. You don't have to go to a tabernacle or a church building or an altar to meet with God anymore.
The restriction has been… You don't have to sacrifice pigeons and doves and goats and bulls to be right with God anymore, but by offering your faith, God has already offered his Son to take away your sin. That's what the Lamb of God does. The restriction has been lifted. So much so that when God wanted to announce good news of great joy to all people, he did not announce it in a synagogue; he announced it to the shepherds. To let you know that God can do what he wants to. God can use who he chooses to, and that includes you.