Steven Furtick — The Power of Pre
We're coming from a little bit of an unknown scripture. This is not like "Stairway to Heaven" or a Led Zeppelin song that everybody knows. This is a deep track from the book of 2 Kings 13:14-20a. I want to read it real quick for you. It says, "Now, Elisha had been suffering from the illness from which he died. Jehoash, King of Israel, went down to see him and wept over him". And he uses this expression that was used when Elijah was taken up to heaven. He was the prophet who proceeded Elisha and he says, "My father, my father, the chariots and horsemen of Israel". He didn't know what he would do as king if he didn't have the man of God giving guidance and strategy. And so, he's weeping over an opportunity that is passing.
And Elisha, instead of giving him some sort of chicken soup for the kingly soul — Work with me now. — gives him a set of marching orders. He gives him something to do. And most of us, if we would do what we already knew, we could see victory in our life. It's not a lack of knowledge a lot of times. It's a lack of courage or a lack of conviction. And so, he understands something that he's got to get Jehoash the King, to move out of apathy and to own the outcome and fight for himself. It's almost as if Elisha's saying, "Stop crying. Man up". Look at Verse 15, "'Get a bow and some arrows. Take the bow in your hands.' And when he had taken it, Elisha put his hands on the kings' hands". And our theme, we said, was in Verse 17, "'Open the East window,' and he opened it".
He wanted him to view the victory before he fought the battle. It's the power of a preview. And I don't know about you, but I'm looking into my future, with expectation and anticipation. Amen. I don't need any news network to define the future for me. I have a preview of heaven's agenda for my life. And I'm pointing my expectation in the direction of my destiny, believing that the best is ahead. Touch somebody and say, "Your best is before you". Your best is not behind you. The devil is a liar. You have not seen your best days. The best is yet to be. Open the window. Stop staring at the wall. Stop thinking about what you lost. Get what you have left. Open the East window and shoot. Take the shot. "And he shot".
And he proclaimed the Lord's arrow of victory — the arrow of victory over Aram. Everybody has an Aram. Everybody has a next battle to fight. Everybody has a keystone conquest, that if you win this one, it'll set you up for success in all of the other ones. I don't know what your Aram is this year. It might be very, very practical. But he told him to aim at Aram. Don't run from it. Face it in faith. But don't put your eyes on Aram, put your eyes on the arrow flying over Aram. Kind of like Peter if he would keep his eyes on the one who was above the wind and the waves, he could float. The bottoms of his feet were somehow water-resistant. But when he looked at the wind and the waves, when you look at Aram, you always become afraid. But if you watch the arrow, watch the arrow, keep your eye on the promise of God over your life, he said, "'You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek.'
Sometimes that's what happens after you come to church, get inspired, worship God, move the mountains and all of that. And sometimes it's the little things. Sometimes it's not the mountains, it's the molehills. Talk to me, somebody. He said, "Take the arrows". And the king took them. Elisha told him, 'Strike the ground,' and he struck it three times". He was in compliance, but he wasn't fully committed. "He struck it three times". He was in compliance, but he wasn't committed. "And stopped". Remember, the man of God said, "Get a bow". He said, "Take the bow". He said, "Open the window, take the arrow, strike the ground," but he didn't say, stop. He didn't say, stop. There's something in your life today that God has not said stop about. You, watch this. The man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck the ground five or six times, then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it".
Sometimes we do just enough to survive, but not enough to really succeed. So, we stay stuck. In fact, we tell ourselves the story that we're stuck. Is it that you're stuck or is that you stopped? You would have completely destroyed it, but now you will defeat it only three times and watch the window close in Verse 20, "Elisha died and was buried". It's over now. You should have done it. You didn't do it.
This message is called, "The Power of Pre". Just pre. You know, just pre. Pre, like pre, pre-marital counseling. Me and Holly had some pre-marital counseling before we got married. Straightened her out. Got her dysfunctions not completely eliminated, but manageable. And then I got her some pre-natal vitamins, after we got married, because I got her pre-gnant. "The Power of Pre". And we did not have to sign a Pre-Nup because we didn't have no pre-nothing to sign it over. "The Power of Pre".
That's what I want to preach about. Sent my kids to pre-school. Trying to get them pre-pared. And I believe in the value of preparation. I really do. I think — let's say it like this. Not only do I think that the outcome of the battle is often decided before it begins, pre-decided, pre-cision. But, I also think — let me see if I can say this just right, because the way the Lord spoke it to me, it made sense to me. I 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.
And I wonder, are you living beneath the level of your potential? I'll admit, the world doesn't really celebrate preparation these days. We live in a post-oriented world. OK? Speaking of marriage history between me and Holly. Let me tell you something real quick. I've told you this before. I've told you this several times. But, she's a great cook and she got me voluptuous in our first 18 months of marriage. And recently she found a picture of me with my shirt off looking kind of filled out. And, real quick, this isn't a nutrition class. I understand you didn't come for all that and I don't claim to be a model of health or any of that, OK? I just found what works for me and I work it. And what works for me is just a plan. And the reason I got fat when we got married is because we didn't plan our meals that much, so it was Mexican at the last minute, 9:30 at night. Remember, this was pre-children.
Right? This was back when you could just pick up and do that. And you didn't have to prepare anything. So, we were just enjoying everything, and I figured, "I got my woman. So, I don't need to look good". I'm just kidding. But, she found a picture of how I looked back then. And it looked — you've seen the infomercials late at night, like that before picture. I had my eyes closed. I didn't even remember the picture. And I was just having some fun and I went and found a picture of me now and I put them side-by-side, just for me, send it to Holly and said, "How many men get better looking as the years go by"? And she started praising the Lord. She sent me some praise hands emoji's. And I was showing Elijah, my oldest son, he said, "You should post that, Daddy". And I said, "I'm not," I said, "Boy, let me teach you something. Everything is not meant to be posted".
My point number one, I've got four points of this message. Point number one is the post. Because we live in world where everybody wants to post everything. And we got people who are more interested in posting than they are in progress. One man was talking about the game Guitar Hero. The game where you can press the buttons and pretend — pre-tend to play the guitar. You don't have to pre-pare. You just pre-tend. And he said, "Everybody wants to be a rock star, but nobody wants to learn the cords". Preparation is underrated. Preparation is not very celebrated in our culture. Because we want to post. And we need instant validation.
We live in the age of instant outrage and instant validation. We learn to tweet before we learn to think. Just post everything that you think like everybody needs to hear what you know. I'm thinking about doing a lesson because it's disturbing me and show you the difference between a journal and a Facebook page. Everything you think does not deserve an audience. Preach Pastor Steven! Preach to the People. Some of you all are shouting because you're hoping that your Aunt Susie in Oklahoma hears this message. She's embarrassing you and the whole family. The post.
Now, I know you're wondering how I'm gonna get back to 2 Kings 13. I know exactly how to get back there. See, because I pre-pared to preach. What would you do if I came up here to preach and instead of telling you to turn in your Bible, I asked, "So, anybody got anything you wanna talk about this week? Anybody? Whatcha think? Old Testament? New Testament? Look at some scriptures. Anybody? See what I can find". And I wonder why you expect me to prepare to preach, I'm not going to be mean about it, but just a question, are you prepared to receive? Because the last time I checked, it's often the quality of the soil that determines the harvest more than the quality of the seed.Sometimes when Chunks'll tell me that was your best sermon you ever preached, I said, "No, you finally just listened. I'm preaching good every week. You're just awake this week".
When the king went down to see Elisha, remember he had recently been appointed to his post as king. And Elisha has not been mentioned in the scriptures for something like 45 years, but he's still on his post. There's something about staying on your post. It is the lost art of being planted. And you are never going to fulfill purpose until you commit to your post. Thinking about posts in a couple of different ways. I'm thinking about how God has posted some of you in places that seem insignificant. And isn't that really the message of 2 Kings 13:14-20? We were talking the other day, little group, about this passage. And one person said, "I feel sorry for the king. If Elisha would've wanted him to strike the ground five or six times, he should have told him to strike it five or six times". And I think the message here is that God leaves a lot of it up to you. How far do you want to go?
I don't think God makes all the decisions for your life. I think He lets you decide within certain parameters how much purpose or potential you want to fulfill. I don't think God pre-cides everything about our life. Do I believe that we each have a purpose? Yes. Do I believe that He's God whether or not you marry Jimmy? Yes. Do I believe that you quitting your job will cause the cosmos to collapse? Or that any presidential office could thwart or overpower the presence and preeminence of God? No. I believe He's sovereign. But, I also believe that within His sovereignty He has left space for you and I to take responsibility.
The post. How do you preach about the value of preparation in a post-oriented world? How do you preach to a... it's not really an age thing, it's not really a social media thing? I mean, I've put stuff online, too, just like the rest of you. But, I wonder sometimes, do we want recognition before we've taken responsibility? Do we need the pat on the back? The battle is won or lost in preparation. This is true of athletes. Any athletes in the house? Are there any professional athletes in the house? Any NASCAR drivers in the house? You all know NASCAR is not that simple. I mean, it is a very sophisticated sport.
I only know because of Joey, Brittany, If he isn't racing, I don't watch. I'm not a NASCAR fan. I cheer for 22. He comes to my church. And he told me to come out to a race to see him race. I really didn't want to go to the NASCAR race. And after I went I was fascinated. I got to hear his team work and everything. And Chunks, who I mentioned earlier, who only half listens to my sermons sometimes. I'm kidding about Chunks. But, he turned to me and said something — because when I went to the race, Joey won. I'm not saying it was the favor of God because your pastor was at the race track. I would never say something like that. I would only imply it. But, he won. And Chunks looked at me on the way home. He said, "You know what's interesting about that race". He said. "That race wasn't won on the track. It was won in the garage".
Because he had been talking to one of your team members during the race explaining how all week the team, it's 350-people, he told me, working on that car. You see one driver. And he's a good driver and if he can't drive, they don't win. But no matter how well he can drive, it's not what happens on Sunday — I feel like preaching a little bit, because I think this has something in common with spirituality. It's what happens Monday when they're trying to make the car a tenth of a pound lighter. Just a tenth of a pound lighter can make all the difference. I mean, just a little bit. Just a little tweak on the motor. Just a little race note on this track and this turn. And I'm making stuff up cause I don't know a lot about NASCAR.
But what I'm trying to say is, maybe God is more interested in the garage than He is the track. God is a God of preparation. He would not feed the multitudes until they sat down in the grass. Why? Provision awaits 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.
Post. It was decided — the battle had not been fought yet, but Elisha pre-dicted the outcome based on the king's persistence and preparation. Here's what he said, "If you won't do the groundwork when it doesn't seem to make sense". If all you want is this — [Whistling] Great marriage — [Whistling] Happy family — [Whistling] Eight-pack — [Whistling] Whatever — [Whistling] Prayer life — Whatever, I don't care what it is, I'm telling you, it's about the garage. He is the God of the garage. Tweaking stuff and fixing stuff, stuff you can't see. Cause my second point is the point. I don't think I've ever had a sermon point about the point. But I tried to put myself — I tried — Here's the thing about perspective. And if you're watching the news sometimes and you're seeing somebody that you disagree with and you're first instinct is to argue with them, before you argue with them, try to get their perspective. Try to get an inverted perspective. That's called empathy.
And so, one way, Jonathan, you were texting me yesterday about reading the Bible and preaching and all of this, and I was trying to show him some things. And when you take Jehoash as a villain and Jehoash is a lazy man and you don't stop to think about what's happening here, in that how many times have you stopped because it didn't make sense. The reason I believe he stopped is because arrows are supposed to go like this. What sense does it make to put an arrow in the ground? And I want to point this out to you. I'm having fun, man. I love what I do.
I do what I love. And to do this with something that's supposed to do this is hard to be persistent when you can't see the purpose. That's all I'm trying to say. And I guess what I'm trying to tell you, Daniel-son — is that Mr. Miyagi, isn't always going to explain to you why you're painting his fence. That he's not always gonna tell you why you're waxing his car. And I know that you would paint the fence if you knew the purpose of painting the fence. And I know that you would wax the car if you knew the purpose of waxing the car. And I know that you would stay a virgin if God would give you your wedding date.
See, Jehoash had a calling and Elisha enrolled him in a class. Write this down. Don't expect the class to look like the calling. Don't expect your training, 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 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 slingshot with the most inexperienced one on the battlefield doing the slinging. 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.