Steven Furtick — Don't Stop On Six
So God says, "You're going to have to walk by faith, not by sight. You're going to have to walk around these walls and believe that I'm working, even though it doesn't seem to be working at all."
This message is for somebody whose progress is not obvious right now. I wanted you to know that just because your progress isn't obvious, it doesn't mean your faith isn't working. You've got to learn how to take another lap. Even when the progress isn't evident, you've got to walk And that's what I want to preach to you about today.
I want to talk to you about stopping short. There are people under the sound of my voice today who are closer than you think you are to something God has promised you. And He put a message on my heart today that is going to give you a little push.
Would you just push your neighbor; say, "You're about to get a little push"? A little push. A little push. A little push. Come on. Push 'em a little harder. Say, "You're about to get pushed. You're about to get pushed. You're about to get pushed into your promise. You're about to get pushed into your promise. You're about to get pushed into your promise."
Come on. My scripture is found in Joshua 6, Joshua 6. If you want to find the book of Joshua in your Bible, it's the sixth book of the Bible, sixth book of the Bible. And we're going to preach from Joshua 6, the sixth book of the Bible, Joshua 6.
And the title of my message today, Check this out. You ready? You won't understand it but I want you to just say amen by faith when I announce it. This message is called... Y'all ain't ready yet. Let me read this scripture. Let me read this scripture. Then I'll give you the title. And it's a little lengthy, so I'd ask that you just remain standing for a moment and, if you're able, and after I've read the scripture you can take a siesta, whatever you want to do.
You can have a seat and relax. I like to get people to stand sometimes in honor of God's word: one, because it just shows respect that this is God speaking; and secondly, it keeps you from falling asleep while I read it if it's long. So there's a double reason.
Scripture says, "Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. Then the Lord said to Joshua, 'See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.' So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, 'Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.' And he ordered the army, 'Advance! March around the city, with an armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord.' And when Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the Lord went forward, blowing their trumpets," making lots of noise, rowdy people, "and the ark of the Lord's covenant followed them. The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding. But Joshua had commanded the army, 'Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices,'" keep your mouth shut, "'until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!' So he had the ark of the Lord carried around the city, circling it once. Then the army returned to camp and spent the night there. Joshua got up early the next morning and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets kept sounding. So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days. On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, 'Shout! For the Lord has given you the city!' "
Now, the title of my message today, "Don't Stop on Six". I want to encourage somebody who came to church today feeling a little worn out and a little confused and a little frustrated about a situation in your life, this is just an encouraging message.
Now, you can get ready to leave here feeling better than you came in 'cause I'm going to encourage you today, "Don't stop on six". And I'll explain what it means in a minute; but for now, I just need you to touch seven people around you and tell 'em, "Don't you dare stop on six. Don't stop on six. Don't stop on six." Come on. Touch 'em, at every campus. Make sure you get seven now. Don't stop, Uptown. Don't stop, Rock Hill. Don't stop, Concord. Don't stop, Matthews. Yeah, don't stop on six.
Thank you, worship team. You may be seated in the presence of God. I started this church with seven other families when I was 25, and what used to impress me doesn't impress me as much anymore, almost eight years in. It used to impress me when somebody had the faith to start something. Now, what impresses me is somebody who has the fortitude to finish it.
This year, God put a little message on my heart, I preached it all around the world, called "Pound the Ground". We showed it this summer in church. We showed some of the different environments where I've been privileged to preach it, specifically to church leaders and people who are ministering, 'cause sometimes we stop short of what God has promised us.
And when I was preaching that message, I knew that there would be a sequel to it because the message was basically saying, "Don't stop short of what God has promised you." But in the message, I did very little to deal with the problems that cause people to stop short of the promise that God has made to them.
All over this room, promises are unfulfilled in the lives of people who really love God. All over this room, there are promises that are not yet possessed by God's people. And today, from this scripture I just read you, I want to start something.
But check this out now. I found three things in the passage, three things in the passage. You can write 'em down and next time the devil comes to discourage you, you'll know exactly what he's doing. Three things that cause God's people to stop short of their promise.
And I know that sounds very generic to say "stopping short of your promise". What does that actually mean? Let's see if God'll speak to you as we go. People stop short of God's promise for three different reasons. There are probably more, but there are three that I see so plainly in this passage. Check it out.
Number one, 'cause your perspective gets blocked. Your perspective gets blocked. The passage that we read features the first battle that the Israelites would fight to possess the land that God had promised to them for generations. He started with a man named Abraham, the father of our faith, the progenitor of our faith. He told him, "I'll make you into a great nation and your descendants will dispossess cities."
And he led the people of God out of Egyptian slavery through Moses. And on and on it goes. Now we get from Moses to Joshua. And Joshua is the general that God has selected to lead the people into their promised land. And they have a problem. You know there's always a problem standing in between God's promise and your possession.
We don't preach about that a lot 'cause it's kind of complicated. We just like to make promises like you just got it when we said it, but there's always a problem. Now, in this passage, the problem is a city called Jericho. And if you noticed in verse one, let's review it again on the screen, it says that "Jericho was securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out, no one came in."
They were on lock down. So it looked like the city was impossible to get into. But how many know that impossible situations are not intimidating to God? I said how many know that impossible situations are not intimidating to God? Furthermore, I want to take it a step further, the sign that something is tightly shut up in your life might not be the sign that you're not going to get in.
It might be the sign that the enemy knows he can't keep you out. Because that scripture says that it was because of the Israelites that the people of Jericho had locked down their city. They had heard about God's people. They had heard about the great deeds God had done for them. They had heard about the victories that God had won, how He brought 'em across the Jordan River, how He delivered them from the hand of Pharaoh. And they were scared.
See, some of the stuff you're scared of is really just a sign that your enemy is scared of you. Some of the stuff that's got you on the run... I don't know if this message is going to work or not. So it's tightly locked up. And then God says something really comical in verse two, and I'll explain why I think it's funny. He says to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands along with its king and fighting men."
Here's why it's funny. What's God doing speaking in past tense about a battle that Joshua hasn't fought yet? Only God can do that. "See, I have delivered into your hands the city of Jericho." Okay? Only one problem with that. My problem with verse two is verse one. See, in verse one, remember, it said that the city was tightly barred up. In verse two, God tells Joshua, "See, I've given it into your hands."
Question: what do you do when what you see doesn't look anything like what God has said? What do you do when God is speaking stuff over your life that is not materializing? What do you do when the preacher is preaching about joy and you go home still depressed? I can't get any real people in here today. Everybody brought their church face. What do you do when the preacher is preaching about blessing and the preacher is preaching about peace and your home is full of turmoil and cussing and fussing and fighting and demons and eye-rolling, teenagers and messes?
I'm saying sometimes what God says doesn't look like what you see. And the enemy loves to use your problems to block your perspective. See, the thing about Jericho, history lesson, Jericho was a very small city. It wasn't too big. But the walls were really high. This was the first city that the Israelites would have to take.
Now, after Jericho, they would move on to Ai. And after Ai, they would move on beyond that place, and they would conquest throughout the entire land and God would give them great victories. But it started with Jericho. Jericho, although not a big city, was a well-defended city; high walls. Jewish historians tell us that in this time there were really only five ways to deal with a walled city.
But God is about to give His people a strategy that has nothing to do with any of those five ways. And I'll tell you why. Because sometimes in order to be victorious, you've got to be willing to do something that looks ridiculous. And sometimes, to win the battle God's way, you've got to be willing to do some stuff that won't make any sense. And I'm going to show you that in this passage.
One of the wonderful things about worshiping God, one of the wonderful things about coming to church is it lifts your perspective so you can see past the walls. If all you ever see is problems... So Joshua looks up and he sees a walled city, but it doesn't matter what he sees 'cause what God says is his reality. I wanted you to know today that no matter what you're looking at, that's staring you in the face, it's not a sign that you're never getting in to what God promised.
It might just be a sign that the devil has gotten desperate 'cause he knows he can't keep you out much longer. So lift up your eyes to the hills. Your help comes from the Lord. But so many people never take the first step because our perspective gets blocked.