Steven Furtick — Soul Control
This message is called "The Power of Pre". Not only do I think that the outcome of the battle is often decided before it begins, but I also think that most of us are not currently performing at the level of our potential. We're performing at the level of our preparation. It's just a simple way of saying what Elisha said to Jehoash, there was more that God had in store, but you stopped short. God is a God of preparation. You've been asking God to send it, and He's been asking you to form it, cause He can't fill what you don't form. Don't expect your preparation to look like your promise. Because the place God prepares you the most is the place that seems the most pointless to you. it's not a theory or a principal or a philosophy. It is my personal experience that if you are faithful in little, He'll make you faithful and much. Why would He waste more if you're not working what you have now?
So we traveled to this small, little town in South Carolina. I don't remember if it was Camden. I think it was Camden. We were supposed to hold a youth rally. Holly can tell you, we were on a Summer Impact team. A ministry team that crisscrossed the state of South Carolina hosting backyard Bible clubs and revivals. And we were so excited about our theme that we had developed called "Run to Win". And I had a theme. And I had a team. And I put Holly on my team cause I liked her. And I figured if I can get her in this van with me for eleven weeks, she would get attracted to my anointing. And I worked my window all the way to my wedding day.
I'm just preaching what I practice. Now look at me y'all. We went to our first stop. So excited. Run to Win. The youth is our first stop. We're going all summer. It's eleven week ministry extravaganza. Across the state of South Carolina. And the youth pastor said, "Well I got some good news," when we got there. I say, "Cool, man". He said, "No kids signed up". I said, "How is that good news"? He said, "Oh you can chill by the pool this week. Take a little break". I said, "Bro, it's my first week. I don't need a tan. I need some kids. Am I lyin' Holly that we hit the streets so hard? Was it Camden? Am I getting the town wrong? I don't remember. But we canvased that down. We, let's call it Camden. We canvased Camden. I mean, fliers on every door. By the last night of the crusade, we had it at 40 kids.
You ain't clapping cause you don't think that's big. Forty's big when you thought you were gonna be by the pool at the Motel 6 all week in Camden. And I know what you're thinking. "What's the point"? That's exactly what I was thinking. It's called ground game. It's called preparation. Why would God have let me pastor thousands if I wasn't willing to hit the streets for 40? And I wish I knew. I could preach so much better if I knew what God's got you doing right now that seems kind of pointless. I would have stopped, too. I don't even know if I would have put two or three arrows in the ground.
It doesn't make sense to strike the ground with something that's supposed to fly in the air. It doesn't make sense to declare victory with an instrument of death called a cross. It doesn't make sense to kill a giant with a sling shot with the most inexperienced one on the battlefield doin' the slingin'. It doesn't make sense to deliver a nation with a stick in your hand. It doesn't make sense. God prepares you to trust the teacher by putting you in a class that does not look like the calling. Lions and bears don't look like Goliath, but they are the perfect preparation.
Now I've come to the point in my life where I'm learning to trust my teacher to know that even if this doesn't look like it, everything is preparation. And I mean everything. Every fence I paint. Every car I wax. Every offense is preparation. Maybe this won't take your pain away, but if you would start seeing your pain as preparation, I'm not saying God's the one who hurt you. I'm saying in His hands, whatever hurt you will become healing for where He's taking you. I'm prophesying to somebody. I don't know who you are. But God is preparing you. He's getting you ready. You're in the field. You're tending sheep. God is preparing you for what He has prepared for you. It's not failure. It's preparation. It doesn't feel like preparation. It feels like failure. But the failure was preparation so that I would have the infrastructure and the fortitude for the success.
God's got me in the garage right now. Garage doesn't look like the race track. But God's not done. He hadn't hit post yet. All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. He's preparing me. Yeah. Point. The point is for you to trust the teacher. That's the point. Take the arrow. Strike the ground. And I spent all week trying to figure out something. I was preparing this week. I wanted to come to the pulpit prepared. And I knew that there would be at least one person paying attention who would want to know. Why would Elisha get so angry over something so simple? Well first of all, he was about 110 years old. I don't imagine there's much to be happy about at that age. You'd be crotchety too.
So that's number one. But for my second clue, I want to give you point number three: the plow. Because I figured there would probably be something about Elisha's process that would help me understand his insistence on perseverance. He could not believe what he saw. He could not believe that someone would have an arrow of victory in their hand but refuse to do what needed to be done to secure the victory. And so, I went back through his life, and just remembered a few things. This is one of my favorite Bible characters. He was the subject of my book that I wrote called "Greater". So, me and him spent a lot of time together. And I saw him one time. These kings needed reign. They needed provision from Heaven. And Elijah told him, "Okay, you want rain? Dig some ditches". But see now, it wasn't raining yet. So they didn't need an irrigation system. But Elisha knew that the key to receiving provision is to make preparation before you can perceive it. So he told them to dig some ditches.
The first thing that he did when he took the mantel from Elijah, the one who left him in transition. The first thing that he did was to heal some water in a town called Jericho, some water that had become toxic. And to revive the economy, he needed to heal the water supply. And so, he asked for some salt. Salt comes out of the ground. Of course, we know this. It comes either from the ocean or it comes from the mines. But either way, it's manufactured by pressure. I can preach about the power of pressure, too, I guess, if I wanted to. See, because it looks like pressure, but it's really preparation.
Think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Gethsemane means Olive Press. It was the pressure of the garden, so great that it was like drops of blood. When he sweat, it was like drops of blood. I don't know if he burst a capillary, or if it was like that metaphorically, or literally. Either way, he was under pressure. His pressure was his preparation. Quit asking God to take the stress away. Start asking Him to show you how to handle it. Nevertheless, not my will, but your will be done. He made a precision. It's the power of pre. It's the power of preparation. It's the power of taking salt and throwing it in the water, and the water was purified.
And I was noticing how Elijah wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty. Which took me all the way back to the first time I saw him in scripture. Cause Elijah had kind of had a little meltdown, and he threw a little hissy fit. God doesn't need you to be perfect. I mean, God doesn't need you to be perfect. He just needs you to keep making progress. And when Elijah went back, God said, "All right. Now, I've got, I have made preparations for your success". For Elijah was so tired, he didn't know what to do next. Jezebel wanted to kill him. And he didn't have a backup plan. But God did. And god said, "If you'll get back going the way you came, I've got your succession plan already in place. And I'll show it to you when you get back in position.
Elisha's walking. I had 'em pull this one scripture for you, because it was so profound when it hit me. And I understand it once why Elisha was angry when the king would not strike the ground. It's in 1 Kings 19:19. I want you to look at this. It says that, "Elijah went from there," the place where he was making excuses, feeling sorry for himself. He went from there, the place of pressure, the threat of Jezebel, the anxiety of the future. "He went from there on the word of the Lord, and found Elisha". Please read with me, cause what I'm gonna show you next is gonna explain to you why the season that you're in doesn't feel significant, but it is so important that you do it with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul with all your strength. He, "found Elisha son of Shaphat". And Elisha was preaching.
Now remember, his calling was to be a prophet. But sometimes the classroom doesn't look like the calling. He wasn't prophesying. "He was plowing". He was digging up hard ground. He was not, not only was he plowing, but he was plowing "with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair". What do you think the view's like? When you're last in line? And at first, I couldn't figure out why Elijah didn't go to the prophet school. If God was preparing somebody to take up the mantel of Elijah, wouldn't he get it from the prophet school? But he didn't want somebody who knew how to preach. He wanted somebody who knew how to plow. Cause if you're willing to plow, I can teach you to preach. But I need somebody who's not scared, not backing up, not gonna get tired and turn back. He who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God.
I need somebody who knows how to plow. And we have a generation that knows how to post but doesn't know how to plow. We got more windows than we've got work. I mean, you came here today, right? And you came to be in the presence of God, am I right? Am I right? Did you come to be in the presence of God? Come on. Every location. Watching online. Did you come to be in the presence of God? Okay. Presence starts with pre. You think this just popped up? You think that just, you, oh. You think it came down. No. It was, Elisha understood the principal of preparation. Provision awaits preparation.
So, I hope you enjoyed the music today. You should have. I mean, I know where I'm preaching right now it's probably not raining in a lot of locations where you're watching this, or you're watching this on TV. But it was raining today at church. And somebody had an umbrella. I mean, there were parking team people who were preparing for you in the park. Here's what I realized. I can preach as hard as I can preach. But preach starts with pre. If somebody doesn't park you, I can't preach to you. And Elijah understood. It's not — easy — sometimes that gives the victory. It's the ground work. It's the preparation. It's the underground stuff. See, I'm trying to get a point across. You experienced the presence of God, because somebody made preparation. Somebody prepared for you to be here. It's the power of pre.
Recently I told my son Elijah I want him to start seeing behind the scenes, cause I didn't want my kid growing up that thinking that church was a greenroom and a stage. And so, I was like, I want you to go see the kid's ministry, which is amazing. I said, which is amazing. He also wanted to see the video, how the video works, because technologically what we do here is, I think is pretty excellent. And all the campuses is, it's amazing what our teams do, really. So Elijah went back and he said, "Daddy you have got to see it in V Control". The room where they do the all the video stuff with all the cameras and everything. He said, "It's amazing what happens behind the scenes". I said, "You like it"? He said, "No. I'm not telling you I like it, I'm telling you it's amazing". He's saying, "You got to see Chelsea. She's the one calling the shots".
And I watched her and I knew what he was saying. I snuck in today right before I preached. They were preparing. Because before we got here, and before I preached, and before you praised, and before we experienced the presence of God, they were plowing. And they weren't paid to plow, either, these people that I'm about to show you. They were plowing because of the purpose of God. Now I want to show you, it's just a quick window, it's just a quick window into the work that they do that's back there. Just roll it real quick and watch. (=roll=) How cool was that? And every time she's saying that, it's switching a cam. I know I sound kind of like a red neck saying this like, "Can y'all believe they have these cameras back there"? But I was blown away. She's just, I mean, I don't even see that because this underground stuff.
Two, taken two, taken three, taken four, four, taken. I was watching her one time. I was like how does she know how to do that? You go to have like musicality to do it. And I found out how. I found, she said that her mom taught dance. In fact, her mom teaches Abby dance. My daughter. I didn't know this. She's been doing that for me for five years. She said she danced to high school. She said at high school, that's the time where you either go professional or find something else to do. And she said, "I wasn't good enough to go on and do something else, I danced all the way through high school, and loved it. And then I came here to do this". She said, "I never would have imagined, though, that my mom teaching me dance would one day enable me to be on my post every week. And I might not be a professional dancer, but I know how to plow". And now look at her calling the shots at the east window. Go ahead, Chelsea. Three, taken three. Four, taken four. One, taken six, taken five, taken seven, taken eight. Two taken two.
Don't you under You are in preparation right now. And my fourth pre is promotion. Cause I really believe that if you will plow, He will promote, and you can trust Him. Is it possible that the pre is more important than the post? Is it possible that what happens in the garage, what happens in the heart, is more important than what happens in my life? He's preparing me for what he has prepared for me. And the preparation doesn't always look like the promise. Doesn't have to.When the time came for Elisha to be promoted, God knew exactly where He was. He was on his post. When it came time for Elisha to be promoted, he didn't have to point to himself. God pointed him out to Elijah. The post, the point, the plow, he was just simply doing what he had to do in this season. And if you will humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, and just keep striking the ground, see this isn't the sexy part of spiritual development. This is the part where you don't see the point, but you continue in the process. Persistence is the key to the promise of God. Somebody shout if you know God is getting you ready. And He will lift you up.
See, God had an assignment for Elisha, and God has an assignment for you. He said, "You've learned how to plow hard ground. Now you gotta learn how to plow hard hearts". Nothing that you've been through will be wasted. Nothing that you've been through was for nothing. Nothing that you've been through was for no purpose. I've always been working. I've always had a purpose in mind. God is working in my life. It is the "Power of Pre". Prepare to Prevail. Prepare to prevail.
I'm closing, but the arrow of arum is flying over the life of everyone who will do the ground work. I mean, I'm a living witness that if you will stay with it, touch somebody say, "Stay with it". If you will stay with it, I know God is giving you a great window to see the opportunities that He's placed before your life. But how can He trust you with more until you are faithful where you are? So God is cultivating your calling right now. And He might send you to Camden to do it. And He might have you in the garage. He might take you apart. So when you get to the track, you are built to make it to the end. Somebody shout, "I'm getting ready. I'm getting ready. I'm getting ready. I'm getting ready. I'm getting ready". You might wanna shove your neighbor or put Him on notice. I'm getting ready. God sees me. God's preparing me. God has a purpose for my life. And it will come to pass. I know it, I see it. I'm prepared. I'm ready now. I'm ready now.
I'm realizing more and more in my walk with God how little I actually control. There are so many events and circumstances and people that no matter how I try to manipulate them they have a mind of their own. But, there is one thing I can always control. My soul. My response. Doesn't mean I won't have fear. I don't have to be controlled by it. Doesn't mean I won't have anxious thoughts, but I don't have to take them and move according to them. And we put together a six part message series that I want you to request today called "Soul Control". It's about sustaining strength in a draining world. You ever just feel exhausted, depleted, like all my energy went to all these different places and now, I have nothing left for me?
Well I don't want you to live on the leftovers, and neither does God. So, this six part series is going to give you practical tools so you can keep your mind focused on Christ, and maintain a healthy heart and attitude. We're spending millions of dollars to build our bodies and be healthy externally, but how about internally? How is your soul? It's time to get your emotions in check. And that's just a start. We also have some sermons that'll help you take steps to set the right standards in your life and prepare before the attacks ever come against you. Trust me when I say, this is the type of teaching I believe we all need a little bit of right now.
How to take control of your soul. That's what the psalmist did, "Bless the Lord, O my Soul". How do you do that? I want to walk you through it practically in this six part series. So call or go online right now, and get your copy of "Soul Control," the key to sustaining strength in a draining world. Don't wait, don't say, "I'm going to do it tomorrow". Do it right now. This is your permission slip, to live a healthier life in Christ, and take control of your soul.