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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - Why Change Is Hard To Accept

Steven Furtick - Why Change Is Hard To Accept

Steven Furtick - Why Change Is Hard To Accept

This is an excerpt from: Make Room For The New

This is a word for you: make room for the new. You know, I'm getting into old stuff now. I have about 80 records upstairs in my office at my house and a turntable. Vinyl. Something about getting up and having to only listen to three songs at a time is preferable to having every song in the history of the universe on my phone at my fingertips.

For some reason, I would rather listen through a scratchy analog representation of the music than a digital recreation of the music that fits in my pocket. I think there's something comforting about something you used to touch and hold. Old, you know. I used to like something and be attracted to it if it was new, but now I like old stuff. I like old songs. I like Smashing Pumpkins. I don't need any of this new stuff. I like the old stuff. The hymns I used to yawn through in church are the ones I now write songs around as a grown man. A lot of things come full circle in your life that you don't appreciate at the time, but the challenge is now to hold on to the old to the exclusion of receiving the new.

When I shared with you last week, we were given a picture of Peter who was having to fight against the traditions and the customs of the well-meaning circumcised believers. One thing it is difficult for us to appreciate about this community is that they were receiving from God an entirely new system by which to relate to him. Imagine that at one point you had to atone for your sins with the blood of bulls and goats, and now, instead of shedding the blood of an animal, you were trusting in the blood of Christ. That's a very difficult thing to apprehend when you had something tactile, something you could touch, and now you have to believe something by faith. The paradigm of justification… We call it justification by faith, but it's actually justification by grace through faith.

See, it's not how much faith you have that saves you; it's how much grace God has that saves you. If it was about how much faith I had, I would be going to heaven one five-minute period and I would be bound for the same hell as a serial killer in the next five. I don't always have that much faith. Sometimes high; sometimes low. Depending on whether you catch me at 9:00 a.m. and I've had my coffee or whether you catch me after one of my kids said something disrespectful, I might have a lot of faith or a little bit of faith. The point is not how much faith I have; it's who I have my faith in.

This Bible says, "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast". Think about this. God's people had always related to God through a covenant that was based on works, that was based on keeping the law. Now, all of a sudden, in the passage I shared last week, not only are they learning to relate to God by faith, which is the hardest thing in the world to just take it by faith. We talk a good game when it comes to faith. We say we're trusting in the Lord with all of our heart and leaning not on our own understanding, but it still creates a tension, which is, "How much should I trust God, and how much should I try myself"? This tension is written into the very script. The nascent days of the church were filled with this kind of tension.

So the community, God's people, are now learning to relate to God in a brand-new way. Just about the time they're getting used to this paradigm of grace, here come the Gentiles, who were the ones they were supposed to stay away from, and the point guard of the New Testament all-star team, Peter, is going and eating with these people who are contagious. I use that word for a reason. When I told you that they wouldn't associate with Gentiles, you're like, "Well, that's wrong".

It's easy to recognize a truth when you're not living in the tension of it. It's easy for us to look back on certain issues of racial segregation now and say, "Why in the world?" but when you're living in the tension of it, you can lose sight of the truth. In the tension of the New Testament church, there's not only grace versus works but there's this exclusive idea that God is blessing a select group of people. Now get this tension with me. They have to try to figure out how to protect what they've been entrusted with at the same time that they don't hold it too tightly. Every parent can relate to this. How do I protect my kids while not putting my kids in some sort of bubble where they won't be prepared for the real world?

I'm thinking this about Abbey right now. She's probably going to be pretty. She's already a pretty 9-year-old. She's probably going to be a pretty 13-year-old. Then there's probably going to be some 13-year-old boy who wants to come up and talk to her about something. How am I supposed to let her out of her room and trust a 13-year-old boy when I've been one? How will I do that? I don't know. But what I do know is this. Are you ready? This is the first thing I've said that you will probably want to write down today, but hopefully not the last. Your tolerance for tension determines your potential for growth.

We don't like tension when it comes to Christianity. "God said it. I believe it. That settles it. Let me tell you right now, brother, it doesn't matter if you believe it or not. God said it. That settles it. You can just take the middle of it right there out. If God said it, that settles it". Wait a minute. To sit with the tension of what God actually said as opposed to the tradition of what we heard God say through the filter of personal preference and prejudice is the gift of tension. If you hire a trainer at Planet Fitness… I don't even know if you can do that at Planet Fitness, but if you hire a trainer at the gym, they are going to, at some point, teach you about the gift of tension for the building of muscle.

If you hire a trainer and they do not employ tension in the training regimen, you should fire the trainer, because time under tension is the formula for growth. When it comes to our movies, we love tension. When it comes to our television entertainment, Netflix-binging content, we love tension. I don't want to watch a show about somebody who had a good day. I want to watch a show about somebody who ended up on drugs and had to fight a whole gang single-handedly and almost died in the process and got a divorce and went bankrupt. But what makes for a good TV show is the kind of stuff we try to pray away from our lives. So I started the year praying something really weird.

I said, "God, increase the quality of my problems. Lord, I want higher quality problems in 2020". The reason I prayed that is because I tried asking him in previous years, "Take my problems away". That was an ineffective prayer. He did not seem too interested in answering that prayer to take my problems away. In fact, it seems as if some of the things that came into my life in one season as a problem, some of the things that came into my life as opposition, were the things God used to create opportunities for me to know him and make him known. What's crazy about Leviticus 26:10 is it can be interpreted as either a blessing or an inconvenience.

The Scripture said if you live in alignment with God and in agreement with his covenant… This is the old covenant, which was by works. Remember, they had to conditionally receive the favor of God through certain behaviors in community. So as Moses is giving them all of this law, they've been out of Egypt only for a very short time. They've constructed a tabernacle, which is a space where they can meet with God, and he says in verse 9, "I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you". Old covenant, the covenant that was established through obedience and works. It was still grace, but it was grace measured out through behavior. So then, when he gets to verse 10, he says, "If you will keep your end of the covenant, then you will still be eating last year's harvest when you have to move it out to make room for the new".

I'm so glad I am not under that contract anymore. I really am. I don't want God to give me what I deserve. I don't want God to be fair to me. I don't want God to relate to me on the basis of how much I prayed last week. I really don't. I don't want him to treat me according to what my lifestyle would merit. I think most of us in this church understand that this is the old covenant, but it's the same community. They have progressed from a point where they were wandering in the wilderness until we get to Acts, chapter 11, and now they are becoming a church.

In that setup, I want to go back into Acts, chapter 11, and read the story to you again. Or as we said last week, the whole story. You never really know the whole story. That's why you have to keep living. That's why you have to keep praying. That's why you have to keep believing. That's why you have to keep trusting. That's why you have to keep swinging: because you don't know the whole story. That's why you can't kill your kids. They might grow up and pay for your retirement or something like that, because you don't know the whole story. That's why you can't judge anything too soon. You're going to see this in the Scripture right here. In the midst of great tension, a great truth was shown. Make room for the new.

Verse 1 says, "The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God". The gospel is spreading. I guess you could say grace is going viral. It's just out of control. You can't stop it. It's all over the place. They didn't like that, because they are in the tension of trying to protect the old. When you are protecting the old, what's new looks like a threat. When I asked my dad one time, "Are you threatening me?" he said something. I'm sure you've heard this before. He said, "It's not a threat; it's a promise". I was like, "Oh". He was 6'2". I was like, "Got it. I'm good. No further questions". It's not a threat; it's a promise. He said that. It's not a threat; it's a blessing.

They were threatened by the blessing, because they did not recognize it and it did not remind them of what they were used to in their religious routine. Are you threatened by your very own blessings? So, they are being blessed. The church is growing. That's exactly what they want. Sometimes God can be giving you exactly what you want, but the tension it takes to produce the growth is super uncomfortable. We don't like tension in our Christianity. "Rapture me, Jesus, and get me out of here". In the meantime, you need to pay your taxes and change your oil and do all the stuff just in case he doesn't get you out of it. You need to learn how to bring God into it.
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