Steven Furtick — The Capacity Challenge
I just want to start off today a little thought from the scripture in Corinthians 2:8. I really want to read you verse three but that wouldn't make any sense without some of the verses around it. So pay attention to verses 1 and 2 and 4, 5, 6, 7. I'm going to read all of those but really lean into verse 3. That's the one. That's the one that got my attention for this week. And I want to see if it will speak to you in the same way it spoke to me. I feel like God is going to something awesome in your life over the next 32 minutes. I really do. I feel like he's going to speak to you.
Look at what Paul says, "We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia for in a severe test of affliction their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed", I find that interesting but I'm going to restrain myself from commenting on that verse.
How can poverty overflow? That's what I'm trying to think. How can what you don't have create what you need? How can what seems to be a lack in your life open the door to God's limitless supply? I was just thinking about that while I was reading but I'm not going to preach about it because we only have 32 minutes.
"Their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part". Verse 3, "For they gave according to their means as I can testify and beyond" And "To infinity and beyond". Just checking. "And beyond their means of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints".
It's a privilege to give. It's a privilege to be used by God. "And they were begging Paul, please let us in on what God is doing. I want to see what God can do through me. And this, not as we expect it but they gave themselves first to the Lord and, then by the will of God to us accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started so he should complete among you this act of grace."
We'll finish with verse 7, "But as you excel in everything, in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you see that you excel in this act of grace also".
I want to talk to you today about that capacity challenge. The capacity challenge. I heard a speaker say something recently that on the surface it sounded very comforting but the more I thought about it the more I wasn't so sure if what she said was correct. And what she said was, "We have to learn how to be content with our capacity". That is the kind of thing that you usually would generally an Amen because it makes you feel good.
The statement, "You have to learn to be content with your capacity". I know what she was trying to say. I know that there are certain things that you can't do that I can do and certain things that I can't do that you can do. And I know that we each have our own gift and we each have our own way that God made us.
Now, I know that some of us are never going to be more than five foot eight and a half. Our NBA dreams were crushed before they ever had the opportunity to flourish. I know that some of us, look at your neighbor and say, "This might be you". Some of us sing in the shower but we've never going to sing on a stage.
Quit telling your kids they can be whatever they want to be. You are setting them up to subject people to their lack of talent. Every once in a while you need to look at your kid tell them, you need to choose a different path. This is not for you. I don't want to support you the rest of your life. You need to tap your talent. Amen. It's not going to be soccer for you. It's just not going to be. It's not going to be.
Well, it's a challenge. It's a challenge because when I heard this speaker say, "You need to be content with your capacity", while recognizing that we all have different gifts and you can't put in something that God left out. And you can't look over here or over there to another lane to try to time your race.
While understanding that each of us have our own capacity, the challenge for me is knowing what my capacity really is. How do I know what my capacity is if I never challenge it? How do I know what I'm capable of if I never get beyond what I'm comfortable with? I'm preaching. It's been four and half minutes and I said a sermon's word.
Buck, do you remember when I first came over to ask you to train me? I wanted to get strong like Buck and Buck was working at a gym and he said he would train me. So he said I had to come meet with him for a consultation. Now, I've known since college and, so I shoot straight with Buck and when I met with him for the consultation, he had this little computer program that showed me what my body looks like now, which I was familiar with. All too familiar with.
And, then what it could be if I would, you know, let him train me. And while we were doing the computer program I started telling him a list of the exercises that I would not be doing. I came in with some pre-conditions. I said, you need to know, I'm excited for you to train me but I don't do legs. I don't do cardio. Come on, somebody.
How many know real Christians don't need cardio. God is the strength of my life. Portion forever. Makes you live longer. I'm going to Heaven. I'm trying to get out of here. It's crazy down here. But I told him I don't do legs. I don't do cardio. And he walked me over to the pull-ups and he said, "How about chin-ups?" And I said, "I can't do chin-ups." It's not that won't, it's that I can't. And it wasn't because I was big, I was scrawny and still couldn't pull myself up.
And he said, "Well, what I help you. I'll show you." And here's what happened. Over the course of the next six months I walked in and told Buck, because it was true, I can't do a chin-up and I couldn't do a chin-up, not one chin-up without him holding my legs and helping me up; which really is a real blow to your ego having a grown man hold you by the ankles trying to help you up and down. Arms are shaking. And I did the chin-ups.
I am pleased to announce, and I know you'll want to applaud at every location, that today, it's been about seven years, today, depending on what form I'm allowed to use and whether I go all the way down or not, I can do as many 22 chin-ups to the glory of Buck. And the only reason I told you that, and I'm about to sucker punch you, is because when I came to him I told him my capacity. What I can't do.
But what he knew as a trainer is what you need to figure out as a Christian. It wasn't my capacity that rendered me only able to do one chin-up, it was my conditioning. And here's what I want to know, what have you convinced yourself that you can't do that really, you won't do.
What I have found out about church people, and I've been working with them a long time, is when they come to your church, they come and say that they want to be changed but often, they don't want to be challenged. Guess what? No challenge, no change. Oh, yeah, I'm a preach today. My mom might be the only one saying Amen by the time I shut this sermon down but some people come to church like I came to Buck and they already have a list of what they will and won't do.
Now, I'll come to church and I'll take notes in the sermon, I will even touch my neighbor but that giving thing. I don't do chin-ups. I don't do cardio. I don't do legs. And so, my challenge as a pastor is that you show up to listen to the word of God but you have already set the limitation on what part of it you will believe.
And Buck just looked at me and said, "How about if I help you. How about if I help you with the first one. How about if I help you see that there is something in you that you have convinced yourself is beyond you".
And to do it, I want to use an example of the church in Macedonia. Now, the church in Macedonia had essentially been in such a difficult and extremely impoverished time, possibly due to earthquakes or perhaps, it was political persecution, but, they were so low on resources that originally, when Paul was collecting this special offering, he was going to skip them. He didn't want to demand of them that they give in their current state.
And yet, something within them insisted on participating. And the scripture says that they actually came to the Apostolic authorities and said, "No, we want a part in this". And what happened is they gave... I want you to see it again in verse 3 because I've been preaching this message all week and I'm not sure that I've exactly done a good job showing this yet and I don't want to mess it up with you too.
It says, "They gave according to their means and beyond their means". That's interesting to me. That it started out with them giving what they could and resulted in them giving what they couldn't. It is only when you challenge your capacity that you discover your capacity. I don't want you to be content with your capacity. I want you to challenge your capacity. How could you be content with your capacity when you serve a God who is unlimited and says he's able to do immeasurably more than you ask or imagine?
You know who was content with his capacity? The man who sat at the gate called Beautiful. And every day he would beg for alms because he wasn't able to walk. And so, he had convinced himself, I'll never be able to walk but I could beg. So he learned to beg. He learned to survive off of the scraps of what other people gave him and he looked to Peter and John one day and he had run into the wrong folks because Peter and John weren't willing to give him what he expected to be given.
Peter and John were willing to reach down and show him what he could do that he never knew he had inside of them. You know, church is a place where you don't just come to be comforted. A lot of people come to church to be comforted in their dysfunction. But what if God doesn't want to comfort you in your dysfunction? What if he wants to challenge you beyond your dysfunction and make you new and give you the power to do what you never knew you could do?
And something within us is resistant to this. And when we are challenged we perceive it as a threat but I was thinking while I was preparing, I was thinking about all the things in my life that I had convinced myself that I couldn't do that I'm now doing. I mean, how many of you have one thing in your life that at one point you thought you could never do it, and then one day you found yourself doing it?
Yeah. It was four months into the church and I had given an invitation for people to be saved. And I said I started the church for far from God to be raised to life in Christ. And that's really what I wanted but I didn't think I could do it. So I made a plan that I would bring in other speakers to give the invitation because I couldn't do it.
One gentleman that's been in the church with me for six years, when I shared this at the 9:30, he started laughing when I said, "I didn't think I could give an invitation", because now he's seen me give dozens, if not, hundreds of them and thousands of people have come to Christ. But I had convinced myself that I couldn't do it.
And, then one day, actually it was one night, I was watching someone give an invitation from another church, another pastor on my computer and Holly rolled over and looked at me and she was about to turn off the light and go to sleep, and she looked over at me and she knew I was struggling with this idea that I couldn't give an invitation and that I wasn't designed to give an invitation. I wasn't wired.
I don't know why I thought this but I had convinced my... it's crazy what you will convince yourself you can't do. It's crazy what someone can say to you one time and you can take what they said as gospel truth and believe another person more you believe God. And something in me, I had convinced myself you can't do that.
And Holly looked at me and I was watching the other pastor do it and she rolled over and looked at me and she said, "You could that if you would". And, then she went to sleep. And she was right. And the next week I got up and I just decided to go for it and I gave that invitation and I think about three or four hands went up the air. And that was better than zero hands going up in the air.
Well, if wonder if three or four would go up would thirty or forty go up. Now, there's been times before I have stood in arenas and seen thousands of people respond at the same time. The very thing I thought I couldn't do. But how will you even know your capacity if you insist on your comfort? How will you know if you can ever do 22? I'm cross-fit, bro. I'm Paleo, bro. I don't even know what that really means.
How will you do 22 if you don't do two, three, four, five, six. You start with what you have. And see, the Macedonia Church didn't have much. But when they gave within their capacity, God increased their capacity. And all of us come into church and come into faith with this little box of what God can do and what we can do and we bring God our limitations. And when we are met at the level of our own low expectations, we become disappointed and assume that God was limited when in fact, it was our lid that kept us from seeing what God could do through us.
How good is this teaching today? Like, one to ten, I'm thinking this is 11, 12, 12 point five and it's time to challenge your capacity. It's time to challenge some of the things that you've told yourself about yourself. We limit ourselves in all kinds of ways. We limit ourselves with our language. You label yourself with your language.
Well, I'm just not a naturally happy person. I'm not pre-disposed to being optimist. Okay. Since when did the gospel consult your pre-disposition or your genetics before determining what kind of person you could be? Some of you need to make room for joy in your life.
You've convinced yourself that you can't be happy and now, you are living within the very limitation that the lies created. But if you would ever challenge your capacity and say, my mom might not have been happy but that doesn't mean I can't be, I'm a new creation in Christ. I have a new name and a new expectation and I believe I'll see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
And so, we challenge our capacity. And I'm concerned. I'm concerned about what you might miss out on. I mean, what might you miss in your life if you never challenge your capacity? Listen to this, Ecclesiastes 11:4. It's not on the screen but I'll read it to you. "He who observes the wind will not sow and he who regards the clouds will not reap".
What does that mean? It means if you wait on all of the conditions to align before you take a step of faith and commit yourself, you will never sow, you will never see, you will never experience it and it amazes me how many people are conditional in their faith. I would if I could. I would if I could, I mean, I hear about the tithing thing. It sounds cool. I would, if I could.
That was dad's favorite line, wasn't it? I would if I could. He loved that line. He'd say it all the time when he didn't want to do something for us. Would if I could. I promise, I would if I could. Paul said, the Macedonian Church couldn't and they did. And when they did, they could.
So what faith does, faith flips the script. You say, "I would if I could". Faith says, "You could if you would". That's my message today. Tell your neighbor, "You could if you would". "You could if you would". You could forgive if you would forgive but if you won't forgive you can't forgive. You would have joy if you would rejoice. You could be free if you would be free. You could step out if you would step out. You could make it if you would endure. You could move forward if you would let go. You will when you do. When you put it in his hands, it will multiply in your sight. You will when you do. Will you do it? I believe God wants to increase your faith. I believe God wants to increase your joy. I believe God wants to increase your capacity.