Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - Page Turner

Steven Furtick - Page Turner

Steven Furtick - Page Turner

What an amazing day of celebration, and I'm beginning a brand-new series today. I'm going to spoil y'all. I just finished a series. I'm starting a series. You are going to get used to this, and you're going to expect me to be organized and systematic from here on out. The Lord really spoke to me, and I'm excited to share what he spoke. We are going to be spending the next several weeks, as long as the Lord leads me to, studying about the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. Many of you know I have a Bible club with my family. We're about a year and a half in. A chapter a day keeps the Devil away. (Somebody is going to make me a tee shirt that says that now. I'm sure of it. There probably already is one.) We came upon the book of Acts recently. We kind of move around. We're not going straight through. We had been in Jeremiah, and it gets really, really dark, so I was like, "Let's do the book of Acts," because that's a real page turner. It's exciting.

So, that's what we got into, and I asked the family if I could invite you into our series. We're going to do this together now, as a global church family, from the book of Acts. Not the whole book, just where God leads us. I even made an official graphic for this series. You know it's getting serious. Normally I just figure out it's a series after the fact, but right now I'm ready for you. We're going to talk about the subject of making sense of your story through the lens of God's Spirit. The title of the series is Ghost Writer. Not like the comic book Ghost Rider, the guy. This is Ghost Writer: Making Sense of Your Story Through the Lens of the Holy Spirit. This is going to be so powerful in your life. I can hardly wait to share it with you today. We're going to begin with Acts, chapter 1. I'll read you my Scripture, and then I'll seat you, and we'll begin to learn together. How many need the Lord to make sense of some things that are going on in your life right now? Good. Then we're talking about the right thing here. Ghost Writer.

Acts, chapter 1, verses 1-2, and then we'll go to verses 12-22 for the sake of time today. "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen". You'll see the Holy Spirit mentioned in the book of Acts 55 times. It's safe to assume he's the important character in this story of the early church spreading. Now, Jesus is taken up from the disciples. They go back to wait for the Holy Spirit, and we pick up in verse 12.

"Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James". This is not the same Judas as the one who betrayed Jesus. That's Judas Iscariot. This guy has a very unfortunate name for this time. I think if my name was Judas 40 days after Jesus was crucified, I'd just go by "J" or something like that. But they're all there.

Verse 14: "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) and said, 'Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.' (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 'For,' said Peter, 'it is written in the Book of Psalms: "May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it," and, "May another take his place of leadership". Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.'"

Let's thank the Lord for the witness he has given us of his resurrection. Clap your hands, everybody. Today the series is Ghost Writer, and the sermon is called Page Turner. Any big readers in the room? Big readers, make some noise. Not like you're in the library, reading something. Make some noise if you love a good story. I need you to know when you read an autobiography, usually, it's based on a true story. One statistic I read said well over 75 percent of memoirs we read, if it's a famous person or someone who won a gold medal in the Olympics or somebody who was a former president, they will have had help from a ghostwriter. I know you know the term, but just so we get on the same page, the ghostwriter is someone who the person will bring in if they have a story but need help telling it.

So, the ghostwriter might come along and spend 20 hours, 40 hours, in some cases even a year with the person, saying, "Tell me your story. Tell me what it was like when you won American Idol". You know, just because you're a good singer and won American Idol doesn't mean you know how to tell the story. You have a gift to sing, but you may not have a gift to write, so you bring in some help. You have a story, but you need some help. You know, you might have done something really incredible, like you hiked a huge mountain, but just because you're good at hiking doesn't mean you're good at grammar, so you bring somebody in. You're like, "I want to tell this story, how we almost died, and then I want to tell them how I almost ate my brother because we ran out of food. I'm good at surviving, and I'm good at climbing, but I'm not really a storyteller. I need some help. I have a story to tell, but I need some help telling it".

That's where a ghostwriter comes in, and that's where the Holy Ghost comes in in my life and the life of the disciples I just read to you about, because I have a story to tell, but I need help telling it. Say, "Amen" if you have a story to tell of how God made a way for you, of how God saved you, of how God kept you, of how God blessed you, of how God raised you. I have a story to tell, and I need some help. Now, imagine for a moment that you are one of these disciples. Let's say you're not even a main character; you're just Bartholomew. You've just seen Jesus taken from you. The one you were guided by is gone. The one who broke it down and made sense of it for you every step along the way… "Now here's why I'm talking to this woman by the well. Now here's why I'm feeding people you want to send away. Now here's why I sent you into the storm: so I could show you that I'm Lord of the storm. Now here's why I said that in this parable, and this is what I meant".

All of a sudden, what they had been guided by is gone. He was taken up in their sight, hidden in a cloud, and they are told to be witnesses of the story of his sinless life, his unjust death, his supernatural resurrection, and his eventual coming again. They were entrusted to be stewards of the gospel story. My brothers and sisters, we are stewards of this same story. Do you not know that the same Spirit who lived in them lives in me because I believe in Jesus? I have a story to tell. I wasn't there to see it firsthand when he opened Bartimaeus' eyes. I didn't see them lower the man on the mat through the roof and Jesus say, "Your sins are forgiven, and, oh, by the way, get up and walk too. Bonus scene. Deleted content, just because I'm Jesus like that".

I wasn't there to see it, but I have the same Spirit who witnesses to me. He said, "You will be witnesses in Jerusalem…" That's where they are. "…Judea, Samaria…" That's the next circle or circumference of influence. "…and to the ends of the earth". Imagine you're Bartholomew. What you have been guided by is gone, and God has commanded you to go. It makes no sense. For many of you, even to praise God today, from a sensual perspective, made no sense because you've been under depression. For you to begin to sing from your spirit today and declare "God didn't leave me where I was" made no sense, because in some ways you're still there. But we didn't come to church to make sense of our situation. I came to church because I need the Holy Spirit. I need the third person of the Godhead. I need the one Jesus said he would send. He actually said this. He said, "I'm leaving, and you have to go and do this impossible task".

Now, for you, even raising an 11-year-old might seem like an impossible task. I certainly felt that way at each stage of our children's development. It makes no sense that I would be a parent while I still kind of, in a way, feel like a kid. It made no sense I would pastor a church that was several times the size of the town I grew up in. None of this makes sense. I'm telling you my story. My story, what God has allowed me to see and do, makes no sense without the Holy Spirit. I'm like that frog sitting on a fence post. I didn't get here by myself. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. It's not by might. It's not by power. It's by the Spirit of the Lord. Oh, I'm excited about the Spirit of God, because I believe when you sit with the Holy Spirit, he's going to help you tell a better story. What is it like to have the Spirit of God as your ghostwriter? (Bring out my teaching screen. I'm ready to break this down.)

Let's see if we can make sense of this, line by line, verse by verse. I think there is an amazing story being told in this Scripture, how the gospel will eventually go all the way into the Roman Empire, yet it's starting in such a strange place. I'd like you to write this phrase down: the best stories are born in the messiest moments. Isn't that true? How did you get here? Let's go back to your birth day. Was it messy? If it wasn't messy, you didn't make it. The only way you made it here is through a mess. And so it goes again and again. I'll show you this in the Scripture. I don't know if you were really listening or not. I want to show you this Scripture in a way where you can see what it must have felt like for Dr. Luke. Luke is writing this book.

Notice the first thing he says. Follow with me. He says, "In my former book, Theophilus…" He's writing to a patron who is enabling him to tell the story of Jesus. Now, you may recognize Luke, who wrote the book of Acts, from such blockbuster presentations as Luke, the gospel story that he recorded. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Luke was his. He didn't name it Luke, but we call it Luke because he wrote it. Now he's saying, "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus…" I love this word. I hope I can make you love it too. "…all that Jesus began to do and to teach…" So, what does that mean? If Jesus came and lived a sinless life, died a criminal's death, rose from a borrowed grave, and then ascended to heaven to send the Holy Spirit, and when Luke starts writing this book he says, "I wrote a book about all that Jesus began to do," it makes me think he's just getting started and there will be a sequel. That is not only true of the book of Luke and the book of Acts.

That is true for you. Jesus is just getting started in your life, and even if you were only to live a few more days, you have no idea the ripple effect of what your life will mean to a generation not yet born, because you are a steward of the gospel story. You have a story to tell. It's not just Luke who's telling the story. It's not just the writers of the Bible who tell the story. The Bible says you are a living epistle. Not an apostle. Those are the people who followed Jesus. And an epistle is not the wife of an apostle. An epistle is a letter. The Bible is basically saying that you are a story God is telling of his gospel power. That means that when people meet you, they have an opportunity to meet Jesus, the same Jesus who met you in the mess you were in. All of the angels can sit this part of the sermon out, but everybody who was in a mess and met a Savior, who was in a mess and made a mess and met a Savior, I want you to understand your life is a story.

And here's the really good news. He said Jesus began to do it and teach it until the day he was taken up. This seemed like a loss. He was taken up. It was a complete change for all of the apostles. "…he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen". Every word of those two verses would preach, but for now, maybe I could just talk about the fact that the Holy Spirit is going to help you tell your story. You've been telling yourself some really bad stories, and I know it because I do it. If we don't have the Holy Spirit, we will try to make sense of our lives through our senses, and we will keep solving the wrong problems, creating more pain. We will keep solving problems at the level at which they appear and never understand the level from which they originate.

But the Holy Spirit, when he comes, will help you tell the story so that you stop telling yourself Satan's story about why you failed, so that you stop telling yourself Satan's story about why you blew it. You keep telling yourself the story "I failed because I'm a failure". You edited out 99 times you didn't fail that God gave you a victory. You took the one you failed at. You magnified that. You got stuck in a scene and called it a story. But I have help, because the Holy Spirit will help me zoom out and see that failure is always an event; it is never an identity. Telling yourself stories. You've been telling yourself stories about where you ought to be by now in your life. "I should be farther along by now".

How do you know that? You don't even know how long you have left. How do you know you're not as far along as all of your friends? Somebody asked me the other day, "All of my friends are doing great things, and I'm not. Do you have anything to say to me"? All I wanted to say back was, "You don't know what your friends are going through. You just see your friends through their filter". You just see them through the filter. You don't know what they're dealing with. You don't know if they are farther along. They might trade places with you in a skinny minute, in a New York minute. What's a New York minute? I don't know. The fact of the matter is even the way we measure time is kind of crazy. Jesus said, "In a few days you're going to receive the Holy Spirit".

Why didn't one of the fellas, Bartholomew, go "Excuse me, Jesus. One clarifying question. When you say a 'few days,' what is a 'few' to you"? It's like basketball. Like, "Hang on, honey. I'll be there. There are only five minutes left in the game". That could be three hours in basketball time. It depends if they start fouling. Right? We tell you about our lives sometimes, and many of you know that against my will I was basically manipulated into buying my family a dog, a Boston Terrier. We've enjoyed his presence in our home for the last two years. I'm going to tell you more about this in a coming week, so just come back, and I'll tell you the rest. We realized the other day that Bo… First of all, he's a very anxiety-ridden dog. Something happened on the Fourth of July with some fireworks. I'm not exactly sure what. We didn't mean to do this to him, but he is traumatized by loud sounds, particularly storms, so when there are storms we have to give him some medicine.

It's really sad, and he shakes. My Benadryl bill is through the roof ever since I got this dog. I didn't put that as a line item, but I didn't know I was getting such an anxious dog. The second thing we just realized he's really triggered by is suitcases, but it makes sense, because he doesn't know. We've been gone for two weeks before, going out on Elevation Nights, and he doesn't know. It's not like he's smart. He's not looking at the size of the suitcase. "Oh, it's just an overnight trip. They'll be back in no time". He tries to make sense of it. Like, "Are you gone for a day? Is this it? Is this goodbye"?

Now, I have to imagine… Since we know the story, we know Jesus was resurrected three days after he died. He was taken from them 40 days after he was resurrected. Then there were 10 days while they were waiting for the Spirit that he spoke about. Not only are they going through a storm of uncertainty, but they don't know what this suitcase means. "Jesus, you're leaving, and you're sending the Spirit to live in us. We trust you, but it's kind of hard in this 10-day period to know what to do next". These are the moments, my friend, when you need the Holy Spirit, because you can do something so stupid while you are waiting 10 days that it'll take you 10 years trying to undo it. You will tell yourself a story.

Have you ever texted somebody who didn't text you back quickly enough? The bubbles came, and the bubbles went, and the bubbles came, and the bubbles went. Every time the bubbles came and went, you told yourself a story about why they weren't texting you back. "Oh, God, they were texting while driving, and they drove off the road, and the bubbles went away. Oh, God"! Really, it was nothing more than the fact that they got distracted and you weren't that important to them to text you back right away, but you had them dead in your mind because you told yourself a story. Now do you see why we need help? Not only telling the gospel story, not only that our lives would be a testimony to the Savior who shed his blood for us, but so that we tell ourselves the right story in the space of 10 days. I wonder if somebody is in a 10-day space between what you know God promised you and the help you believe he'll send you, and you need the Holy Spirit to make sense of it.

So, they go back to Jerusalem. They start praying, which I think is very important. They start praying with their prayer partners, which I think is even more important. Then something very cool happens. Luke gives us a cast of characters. Since we're going to be in the book of Acts, let's see the opening credits for the church. Now, remember, the church is being born, and it's a messy moment. Here's what's messy about it. The apostles return to Jerusalem. All they see is a suitcase. Jesus is gone. They don't know how long it's going to take. He said a few days. "Did anybody hear him say…? Did he say two days"? "No, he said a few days". "Is a few 20? Is a few 12? Is it a year? I mean, to the Lord, a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day".

Holly said something very profound the other day. She said, "I could go through trials easier if God would give me a time clock on them, if I only knew it's just 10 days". "Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter…" We won't read every name again. I already read them once. But notice who's not there: Jesus. The last time they were in this room, maybe Jesus was with them. He's not now. What they have been guided by is gone. You're like, "Well, Jesus is always with me". I can see somebody clipping this right now and saying, "Steven Furtick said Jesus was not with the disciples".

I don't see his name on the list. He doesn't have a physical body at this moment on the earth. They can't hear his audible voice. That's what they're used to. All of a sudden, they're joining together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus and his brothers. They're there. There are about 120 of them. We have two elements that are in every great story. One is that everything is messy. That makes a great story. The second is something is missing. Whenever you see a great story… One of my favorite shows that ever came on Netflix… I don't remember the original network. The opening scene of the series, you see a pair of khaki pants fly through the air, and then the next scene, you see a guy in his tighty-whities behind the wheel of an RV with a gas mask on.

I've got to know, "How did he end up in his tighty-whities? How did his khaki pants fly through the air? Whose pants are these? Why is there a gas mask? What's going on on this show right now"? I've got to watch, because it's messy, and there's something missing. Is it possible that the messiness in your life right now and the missing thing in your life right now is the birthplace of a story that is just about ready to unfold for God's glory in your life? I think so, because the Bible says, "In those days Peter stood up among the believers…"

Now, let's take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the moment that Peter is standing among the believers. Maybe you wouldn't appreciate the beauty of this moment if you didn't read Luke's other book. In Luke's other book, we see Peter when Jesus was going to the cross to be accused and condemned and hung and mocked and whipped. As Peter is watching Jesus go to the cross… I want to show you this in Luke's other book, the gospel of Luke, chapter 22. As Jesus is going into the court of Caiaphas to be tried… "And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them". Now do you understand why it's so amazing that by the time Luke writes his sequel…? Tell somebody next to you, "Wait till you see the sequel".

By the time we get to the sequel, the same Peter… This gives me hope, because there have been times in my life where I sat down by the fire. There have been times in my life where I compromised my convictions. There have been times in my life where I denied Christ with my actions even though my lips said I loved him. But isn't it good to see Peter, who in Luke 22:55 was sitting by the fire, and the Bible says… I don't care what your past says. The Bible says… I don't care what Bartholomew thinks about it. The Bible says… I don't care what the accuser of the brethren says. The Bible says, "In those days Peter stood up among the believers…"

So watch this. We have the one who was sitting by the fire, and now he's standing with a fire on the inside, declaring the word of the Lord. I speak a new sequel over your life. I speak a new season over your life. I speak character development over your life. I see someone who was sitting down last night, sitting down in front of a computer watching porn, but God brought you to stand you up on your feet to praise God today, because the story… My story doesn't end with me sitting by this fire. My story doesn't end with me sitting in this failure. My story doesn't end with me crying over who left. My story doesn't end with my weak moment, causing me to relapse. My story doesn't end with the fear telling me to stay out. My story has a sequel. Shout if you have a sequel! Oh, this is the sequel. High-five your neighbor and say, "It's the sequel, baby".

This is the sequel. I was sitting in the last scene, but wait till you see my sequel. Wait till you see this sequel, because the best stories are born in the messiest moments. Give him a messy "Hallelujah"! Give him a hard-fought "Hallelujah"! Give him a heartfelt "Hallelujah"! Give him a "been through hell and came out on fire" "Hallelujah"! I feel the Holy Ghost, because my mind said it was over, but I have a ghostwriter. "When the Holy Ghost comes upon you, you will be my witness". Stand up if you're a witness! Stand up, Peter. Sit down, Simon. Stand up, Peter. Stand up! Stand up if you have a story! Stand up if you've been through the waters! Stand up if he washed you clean! Stand up! How did he stand up out of that failure? He had help. Somebody holler "I have help"!

Let me tell you about the helper called the Holy Ghost. He's a ghostwriter, and the Bible says he's a comforter. So, if you are without comfort, you are not without comfort. Five seconds from now, here comes the Comforter. Somebody say, "I have help". He gives me clarity, because the Bible says he is my guide. I have a guide. Even though the physical presence of Jesus wasn't there with them and he is not here with us today, we have something on the inside that's letting us know, "He's more real than what I can see". Yeah, he's a baptizer. Has anybody been baptized by the Holy Spirit? Has anybody been immersed in his mercy to let you know it's not over? He's a baptizer. Oh, I have so much to say about the Holy Spirit. He's an advocate. He's an interpreter. He'll help you make sense out of your life, help you sit down with stuff and say, "God, show me my childhood from your perspective. Show me why I went through it from your perspective. I know what people would say about it. What do you say about it"? I have a ghostwriter. It's not your story.

Tell your neighbor, "I'm sorry, but it's not your story". Now point up and clarify. Say, "It's his story, and he's going to help me tell it. Wait till you see my sequel". Now look at them and say, "I'm a page turner". Clap your hands if you're a page turner. Peter stood up. What did he say? Peter stood up in front of the whole group. I have to show you this. Oh, this is going to help you. I see somebody today… It's like God is doing this because he's getting ready to do this. If you don't think it's too gross, just do it really quick. Put that finger lick emoji thing on the chat on YouTube. Just prophetically, what God is about to do… Now watch this. If we did to Peter what the Enemy does to us, we'd be doing this, but you aren't going to find God back there, because he is not here; he has risen. Do you get it? Shall I belabor the point?

Don't look at me in Luke 22. I'm not in Luke 22 anymore. This is the sequel. I love the Lord, because he has been preparing Peter for this moment. Even Peter's failure was an opportunity for him to receive grace so he could strengthen his brothers. I'm about to show you something that was so powerful when I saw it I argued with God whether I should preach it. A really good word from God will shut you up sometimes. Sometimes it'll make you shout, and sometimes you'll be like, "I've got to think about that. Hmm. Let me see. I don't know about that. You're telling me that I can be free from this? I've got to think about that. You're telling me I have the same Holy Spirit the apostles had? I sure don't feel like much of an apostle".

Then you have Peter. He stood up and said, "Brothers and sisters…" This is going to make you mad. He said, "The Scripture had to be fulfilled…" That doesn't make you mad. This will. "…which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas…" It's bad enough that we don't have Jesus with us, and we've got to talk about Judas? Peter is like, "Yeah, let's talk about Judas, because we've got to do something about the void Judas left in this ministry". So, Peter points back to a Scripture, and he begins to explain something about Judas, how Judas served as a guide for those who arrested Jesus. "He was one of our number and shared in our ministry".

We don't like to claim him because he betrayed our Lord. At this point, there is a period, and Luke inserts a parenthetical statement to let us know an important detail. "(With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)" Why did he put this part in? Because all of the best stories are born in the messiest moments. As the church, the body of Christ, is being born, we see the body of Judas that burst open.

Now, I point this out to you because don't you think if you had one book to tell the whole story of the spread of Christianity all through the Roman Empire you'd only put in what's important? Something he wanted us to know… By the way, Luke is a medical doctor, so he's into intestines and stuff, apparently. He's like, "Oh, yeah. Just one little thing: his intestines burst open and spilled out". I want you to know that as something is being born in your life, something else will be bursting out, and it will be messy. But watch this. This is the word: it's a necessary mess. There are two types of messes in our house: the one Holly makes while she's cooking and the one the kids make after we go to bed and we find in the morning and fine them $10. We have a system for this. Her mess is feeding us, and their mess is completely unnecessary.

There is a difference between the one who is cooking something and makes a mess and the one who doesn't know how to clean anything. (I'm going to get off this really quickly, because my kids don't want that side of me to come out in the pulpit, and neither do you.) There are some messes that are unnecessary, but the Lord said I would be speaking to somebody today… The Holy Spirit showed me we would be speaking in this series about some necessary messes in your life. It's a mess right now, but it is not because God forgot where to put things. It is not because God has left you. It's messy right now. Something is missing right now. It doesn't make sense right now, but it is a necessary mess. For the Holy Spirit to come, Judas had to go. I will prove it to you. Peter says it was written in Psalms when David wrote about Judas, and he mentions how Judas (see the language) served as a guide for those who arrested Jesus.

Now, in our story, the fact that Judas led Jesus to be arrested makes him… Let's write it. Judas is the villain. Right? You sell Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. They take him to the cross just when he's at the height of his ministry. Judas is the villain. By the way, I thank God for the Holy Spirit, because I was practicing this sermon this morning, and I was spelling villain wrong. The Holy Ghost told me, "Go get your dictionary app," and I realized the A comes before the I, and I didn't have to learn it on YouTube. Let's thank the Holy Spirit, the ghostwriter. I'll tell you, I wrote it 15 times while I was practicing this sermon, and it was like, "That doesn't look right. I don't know about that". Thank you, Holy Spirit, for keeping me from making a fool out of myself.

So, he's the villain, but Peter said something very interesting. He said he served as a guide for those who arrested Jesus. It has been 45 days now. As the story is unfolding, Judas is the villain. He is the one betraying Jesus. But it has been 45 days, and Jesus has given instructions now, and they have spent time with the ghostwriter. Now Peter sees it a little differently. He says, "It had to be fulfilled". We thought Judas was the villain, and from one standpoint he is, but it had to be fulfilled because he was the guide who got Jesus arrested, and Jesus had to be arrested in order to be accused. He had to be accused in order to be sentenced. He had to be sentenced in order to be sacrificed. He had to be sacrificed in order to be buried. He had to be buried in order to be raised. He had to be raised in order that you could be saved.

So, now I see Judas wasn't the villain; Judas was the vessel. God says what you've been calling the villain of your story, the thing you think came to kill you… Oh, no. God said, "I sent that as a vessel to deliver my grace in your life". There is something in your life… Are you ready for this? Not everybody can handle this level of preaching, because we need Judas to be the villain. We think everything that hurts comes from hell, but some of the stuff that hurt me didn't come from hell. David said, "It was good for me that I was afflicted". Some of the stuff that hurt me humbled me. It humbled me because God said, "If you'll be humble in my sight, at due time I will lift you".

So now let me preach. It's not a movie; it's an episode. You think this is the end of your story, but you forgot something. This is a page turner. Get ready for this. In your life right now, there is somebody who is waiting to see if you're going to keep going after you've been through what you've been through. There's somebody. You know what? Your life is a page turner. Your grandbabies are waiting to see how this turns out. Will you go back or will you go forward? Will you stay in Luke 22 or will you stand up by the Spirit of the God who saved you? Don't tell me this is a fairy tale. It's real in my life. I've watched people die and praise God with their last breath, and the story still wasn't over. I'll tell you about an encounter I had in a bookstore with a lady named Bianca. She wandered into the bookstore and had prayed that morning, "I need a sign, God". She was leaving her house for the first time in weeks. She saw me, and I was over there in the Christian living section, checking if they had my book on the shelf.

I wish I could say I went to pray for people or learn something, but I was on a different mission. She walks over and says, "Pastor"? I said, "Yes"? She said, "I don't mean to bother you". I said, "It's not a bother". She said, "I'm Bianca". I said, "Hi, Bianca". She said, "I just kind of can't believe what I'm seeing right now. I've had a really hard time the last few years, and I have all but quit on God. The worst part is I moved to Charlotte to go to Elevation Church, and I haven't been since quarantine. But today I said, 'I'm going to get out of the house. I'm going to make an appointment to have a facial, and I'm going to go to the bookstore. I'm going to do one thing physical and one thing spiritual.' I said, 'God, if I go out today and don't get a sign that you're still with me, I don't know if I can make it. Two miscarriages in three years. I don't know if I can make it. Marriage barely hanging on because of how low I am at the bottom of these feelings. I don't know if I can make it. But if, God, you will give me a sign today…'"

I said, "Bianca, what about the sign that you moved to Charlotte to come to Elevation and God brought somebody else who moved to Charlotte to go to Elevation to this bookstore"? (I don't want to give them by name, because they're not sponsoring me and they didn't have my book.) She said, "Well, I came over here to buy a book. Can you recommend a good one for me"? I said, "Absolutely. I'll buy you two. If the first one doesn't work, surely the second one will. If neither of them are good, I paid for them so you can't complain, Bianca. This is your sign". I thought it was really funny, because I bought her a Joyce Meyer book and signed it "Steven Furtick". Then she turned to me before we left and said one more thing. "You've done so much, and I don't mean to ask for more, but do you have anything to say to me that might help me to believe that God is not done with me"?

I had no idea what to say to her, because what do you say? You don't say a cookie-cutter Christianese phrase that rhymes and sounds like "Hickory-dickory dock, it takes all you've got". What do you say? I'm thankful that I had help in that moment. Do you know the Holy Spirit will help you know what to say…to say to your kid, to say to your wife, to say to yourself, to say to your accuser, to say to your shame, to say to your mountain? I'll tell you what to say to your mountain. "Move! I don't feel like climbing today, and I don't have hiking shoes. Get out of my way! Move"! God is not through with you. I reached and grabbed one more book off the shelf, and the Holy Spirit gave me something to share. I shared it last year, but y'all forgot it. I reached and got a book, and I just held it. Where I held it was about right in the middle.

I looked at her and said, "Bianca, I'm so sorry for what you suffered. I'm so sorry how it has hurt you. I have no words to say that can make the miscarriages go away. I have no words to say that can guarantee the next result. I have no prophetic word from the Lord, but I feel like the Lord wants you to know that your life is a story he's telling, and you're only this far in". You're only this far in. Y'all, I preached all this, and it's just Acts, chapter 1. The Devil wants you to think this scene is this, and it's not this. God is just getting started. "In my former book, Theophilus…" "In my last book, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do, but he's just getting started".

He's just getting started, because when the Holy Ghost comes upon you, you will have power. When the Holy Ghost comes, he will guide you into all truth. When the Holy Ghost comes, you will stand up straight where you used to sit in shame. When the Holy Ghost comes upon you… He's a baptizer. The Holy Ghost is a corrector, the Holy Ghost is a comforter, and the Holy Ghost is a page turner. If your life is a story God is telling, like Peter's life is a story God was telling, like the gospel is the story God is always telling, that dead things rise, that sins can be forgiven, that new beginnings are possible… You look at your life from your point of view. You call Judas the villain, heartbreak the villain. You are tempted in this moment to close the book and go back, but the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God, is a page turner who does not leave me in Luke 22 but brings me to Acts, chapter 1.

So, welcome to the next chapter, Bianca. Welcome to the sequel, Theophilus. Welcome, Peter. Y'all, what touched me so much reading this was to realize Peter could have been dead right there alongside Judas. They both failed Jesus. The difference between Peter and Judas wasn't what they did or didn't do. They both messed up. It's that Peter was a page turner. "Okay, God. That happened. That happened. That happened. Now, Holy Spirit…" I ask you, I adjure you, I commission you by the grace of God that is given to me to sit with the Holy Spirit this week. "How do I do that, Pastor? I've never done that before". It is as simple as you sitting down with a page of the Scripture. Sit down with the same Scripture I read today.

Take your Bible, open it to Acts, chapter 1, and say, "Lord, Holy Spirit, speak to me. Show me your lens on my life, because I'm looking through my lens, and it doesn't make sense. I'm looking through my lens, and I'm a single mom, and I'm not going to be able to give this child what they need to grow up with a strong family presence. I'm looking through my lens, and I don't have enough to do this, yet you gave me the opportunity. Why did you call? God, give me your lens, the lens of your Spirit". Peter, who was sitting by a fire, stood up among the disciples. "In those days…" In between the space of Jesus the Savior rising from the grave and the Spirit of God coming, not knowing how long they would wait, he acknowledged the mess and the uncertainty, and he said some very powerful words. "For it is written…"

That is what is going to tell you what to do next. "It is written in the book of Psalms: 'May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it…'" That is a direct quote from Psalm 69:25. "…and, 'May another take his place of leadership.'" So, he said, "It was written in Psalm 69:25 that Judas was going to leave. That's what God was talking about all of those years ago, and it's happening in our situation, and…" See, if you stop there, "May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it," it's hopeless. "We don't have what we need. We can't move forward. Jesus is gone. We don't know". It is the power of this and. Peter said in Psalm 69:25 it says, "May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it". But in Psalm 109:8 it says, "May another take his place of leadership".

I prophesy "another" over your life today…another chapter, another victory, another testimony…another one, another one, another one, another one. You don't get this kind of wisdom unless you're a page turner. You have to get in here and start to see what God says about you, about your life, and ask him, "Holy Spirit, speak to me". That's what I write at the top of my notes every time I read the Bible. "Holy Spirit, speak to me from this Scripture". If I don't, I'll think Judas was the villain when really he's the vessel. I'll think the rejection was a curse when really it was a blessing to make more space in my life for what God has next. I'll think the problem is permanent and the faith is temporary, and I will not know that the faith was meant to remain and the problem came to pass. I'm telling you that God can speak over your situation, but you need the ghostwriter so you stop telling yourself there's a period where there's a comma; so you stop telling yourself that because you're messy God can't give you a ministry.

The Devil is a liar, and the Holy Ghost is true. Somebody say, "I'm a page turner". I'm not saying I never sat by the fire. I'm not saying I never made a mess. I'm not saying I never messed it up. I'm just saying… If the Devil starts lying to you this week, just go… You could do it subtly. You could do it in the conference room. Nobody will even know. This story is just getting started. You're only this far in. Next week, I'm going to pick it up right here. Will you be back? We're only this far in. Before we close, I want you to stand to your sanctified feet, and I want you to plant your heels right there on the ground wherever you are and say, "I'm a page turner".

"Wait. I thought God was the page turner". Yeah, God is the one who makes it possible, but you are the one who makes it happen by the decision to move forward in his presence with his power in your life. The Holy Spirit will come upon you. We will see the gospel go out in this book, but it starts with your decision to know, "I'm only this far in". We never would see Peter preach on the day of Pentecost if he didn't turn the page, and we never would see the man at the gate called Beautiful jump up on his feet with his ankles strong if we didn't turn the page. Your children's children are waiting to see how your story goes next. Let's show them a good one so you can tell them that defeat didn't have the last word in your life, that addiction didn't have the last word in your life. "I stood up like Peter. I had a story to tell, and I had help". Lift your hands.
Are you Human?:*