Steven Furtick — This Isn't Working
Have you had anything in your life lately that doesn't seem to be working? I mean, maybe it worked at once. I'm not talking about a washing machine or something like that. I'm talking about real stuff like a relationship. That sounded fresh. It really takes courage to admit that a relationship isn't working. Especially if it feels comfortable to you. I preached one message called dysfunctional comfort and how that sometimes it's easier to stay in familiar bondage than it is to embrace uncomfortable freedom.
So to admit that it's not working, requires a certain amount of courage. To say it used to work or it may appear to others to be working, but this isn't working. Just coming to that point alone can be difficult from time-to-time because, sometimes, we don't really know if it's going to work if we keep doing it. If we just need to give it more time, and it will work. Which is typically what we preach. Just keep trying. Just keep moving. But I've been to the gym and the way that some of us work out, we can keep working out until the rapture and it will not work. Not the way we're working. Our form is off. We take more breaks than we do reps. Yeah, this isn't going to work.
That's what my 12 year-old, my man Elijah, the one that I raise and pay for, he was saying the other day, he's starting to try to lift weights. So we put him on a little program, didn't we Buck? After two days, he came to me and said, "This isn't working". He wants pecks real quick and what he didn't understand is process. Touch somebody say, "No process, no pecks". Or, if you don't wanna tell 'em that... That's really weird. What a cringy touch-your-neighbor. Now listen to the Bible. Bible says, "Another time Jesus went into the Synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there..". — and there were some people there who were "...looking for a reason to accuse Jesus".
Now I'll stop there because what we have in this passage is a — Let me see how I want to say this. A failed system and a frustrated Savior. Really, what bridges the gap between the failed system and the frustrated Savior is a man who is there that day. The Bible calls him this, Mark calls him this, he says: "He was a man..". Verse 3. "...with a shriveled hand". In verse 1, they're announcing his presence in the Synagogue. It says, Jesus, Who is the most important person in human history, was in the Synagogue and a man — I'm expecting for it to be: "...and a man with a hundred-million-dollar net worth..". I'm expecting, if we're gonna take time to call this guy out by name it would be a man with a Grammy. Or it would be a man — You know what I'm saying? With a contract to play in the NBA. But yet, when Mark gets ready to call the roll for who was in attendance that day he does not mention a man with a BMW, a Mercedes, or a Maserati.
He mentions a man with a situation that could have and should have prohibited him from being there in the first place. With this kind of deformity, it is likely that he would've been excluded from Synagogue worship. The good thing is, he only had a deformity in one hand. When you have a deformity in one hand, that means you can shake hands with your good hand while you hide your bad one. Yet, much to this man's chagrin it must've felt like a nightmare when Jesus called him out in front of anyone, stood him up, and used him as an object lesson. Really to say that sounds cruel, but Jesus will always use your situation to fix the system that created it.
This is the premise of Mark 3:1-6. We all have situations in the place, today. Don't make me guess. When you look at me smug when I say, "We all have situations..". it makes me wanna ask God to show me what you did last week. SO I could start saying your situation. If I said every situation in this room, if I started throwing your real — Not your Sunday situation, that's much different. I really didn't come to preach to Sunday and neither did Jesus. Jesus speaks to that place that is not working. He speaks to that place that is not functioning. He speaks to that place that you have learned to conceal and reveals His glory and His strength through your weakness.
One thing I'm grateful for that I learned from Paul who wrote a lot of the New Testament letters. He taught me that it is a theological impossibility for my situation to separate me from God. It's a wonderful list that he gives us in Romans 8 if you're ever inclined to read it. If you're having one of those days where you find yourself in a situation that you don't feel God, sense God, or maybe even believe He's there. Go to Romans 8:35 where you will find a list of situations that cannot, will not, may not, do not have the permission or the power to separate you from God. So Paul makes a list, and in his list, he starts with trouble. It's almost like he's picking a fight. He says, "Who shall separate us from the love of God"?
Then he starts naming situations. In personifying the situations he wants us to understand the power of the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It's always greater. That's why we say His Name is above all other names. What that means is, if you can name a situation there is a name that is greater, and a work that is greater, and a Savior that is greater, and a grace that is greater than your situation.
Paul says, Who. Shall trouble? That's a situation. Shall hardship? That's a situation. Shall persecution? Who doesn't like you, who talks about you, who doesn't think well of you, who doesn't speak kindly about you. That's a situation. Shall famine? What you don't have. Shall nakedness, or exposure to the elements? Shall danger or trouble? Shall sword? Shall — watch this; we're gonna raise the stakes. Death or life? That's a situation. Or angels, or demons, that's a situation you can't even see. Or the present? What I'm dealing with? Or the future what I'm worried about that I don't even know yet? Shall height nor depth?
And watch this clause: "...nor anything else in all creation... See, there Paul gets it. He wants to close it all in. Name a situation I can point you to a grace that is greater than your situation. So then, I don't care what you did, what they said, what you lost, what you don't have, where you've been, or where you're going. It is impossible for your situation to separate you from your source. Now shove somebody and say, It's not my identity. It's just my situation. This man has a situation, but his situation is not him. Somebody went through a divorce, but a divorce is not you. Somebody is dealing with an addiction, but the addiction is not your identity. We know this because Mark calls him a man with a shriveled hand. Not the shrivel-handed man. He's a man with an issue, but the issue is not the man.
Y'all don't wanna help me preach at all today. Situation. But the real situation in this text is not the man's hand. It's the people's hearts. Did you notice that? It's one thing to have a bad hand... especially in Vegas. But when you have a bad heart... And so, what I saw when I was reading this very familiar text that is simple on the surface, was a depth of understanding of five things that Jesus came to fix. Now, He's going to fix this man's situation. You saw it.
The man left home with two good hands. But before He fixes the situation, He is going to challenge the system because that's what God does. The reason He does it that way rather than just fix the situation without addressing the system, is because if He fixes the situation without addressing the system that created the situation, you will stay stuck in the same system that created that situation. Then you will have seven more baby situations that are worse than the first.
Now, many of us live our lives going from situation to situation to situation to situation and we can't even find time to pray because when we go to pray we feel like we have to get through every situation that we're dealing with. We gotta pray for our mom and she's sick. We gotta pray for the missionaries and we never even met 'em. By the time we get done praying with every situation in our lives, we're asleep. If you ever identity, this is for leaders, any of you own a business or lead a department? I want to share something with you real quick. This is a free breakout Leadership John Maxwell Seminary.
When you run around fixing situations all day, you actually disempower the decision-making ability in your organization. Because it's one thing to know when something isn't working. A lot of people are good at that. How many know that it doesn't take a genius to see when something isn't working? All it takes is a Facebook account. And you can spend your whole day telling everybody who doesn't care what's wrong with everything that you dunno how to fix, either. Good thing I brought my own Holy Ghost today 'cause y'all ain't givin' me no love.
It's one thing to know when this isn't working, I'm pretty good at that. It's another thing to know why this isn't working. It's one thing to know that this tennis ball isn't going over the net, it's another thing to know why it's not going over the net. It's one thing to know I want to kill my kids, it's another thing to know why our communication is breaking down as they are getting older and the approach needs to change. It's one thing to know I feel lonely, it's another thing to know why do I feel lonely and maybe it's not everybody else's fault. Maybe the system that is keeping me lonely is within my heart.
See, we always want to point fingers at situations, but you might just find that the situation you're pointing at is trying to alert you to a system within yourself that God wants to deal with because God is not a situational God. God is a God of systems. God is a God Who gets to root causes, so, He went to the Synagogue, which was their system of worship, and He went on the Sabbath, which is their day of rest. He found a situation, and He stood it up in front of everyone, and He used the situation to fix their system.
The first thing that He has to fix is their pessimism. There are five of these. Will we get to all five? Who knows? But I'll be here next week. She said, "Me, too". Pessimism is the result of considering your situation before you consider your source. It's what makes you look at your life, and feel so overwhelmed by all your situations. And I'm guilty of it. I'm gonna be honest with you. I'm guilty of evaluating my situation without considering my source. And when I do, I always feel overwhelmed. You will notice that there were some there that day who were actually, verse 2, looking for a reason to accuse Jesus. They were looking for something wrong.
Principle of the universe. You don't have to be a Christian to believe this: You will always find what you're looking for. If you are looking for a reason to be offended, you will find it every time. If you are looking for a reason to be bitter, you will find one at any time. When you come through, a church like this, I am well aware that in a crowd this size, there are many people here today who are looking for something not to like about our church. It's OK. I understand it. I understand it because we have almost been trained for it. We have been trained not to trust our politicians, we have been trained. Maybe for good reason in many cases. We have been trained, sometimes, by our disappointments not to expect much out of life. We have been trained by our insecurities not to expect people to like us.
Guess what happens when we go around all day believing secretly that no body likes us. When we're telling ourselves before we even go out into our day, "Nobody really cares about me, nobody ever checks on me, nobody appreciates me, nobody talks to me, nobody notices me, nobody texts me, and nobody friends me, nobody likes me, nobody friends me, nobody likes me". Guess what's gonna happen? Your situation is going to reflect your psychology. "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he". So it's just a matter of time before your situation looks like your self-talk. Now you've said it enough to yourself you are looking for a reason to prove to yourself a verdict that you arrived at before you even collected evidence.
So it causes you to look at people and situations, and think, "It can't get any better 'cause it's always been this way". But Jesus said, "Stretch out your hands. I came to speak a better word and fix what you say within yourself". "Nobody likes me. Nobody talks to me. Nobody goes out with me". Why are you surprised when they fulfill your prophecy? "Well, they always... and they never..". There's a second thing that Jesus came to fix. Is our prejudice.
Yet, there's nothing in the passage about the man's skin color. There's nothing in the passage about gender equality. There's nothing in the passage about his sexual orientation. None of that, yet, I still see prejudice in the Synagogue on the Sabbath in Mark 3. And this prejudice is not directed at the man. They are prejudiced toward Jesus. I see you. You look like you wanna believe me, but it's confusing. Let's take the word apart. Prejudice. The definition is in the word. Pre-Judge. That's what prejudice is. And it doesn't just happen racially, or socio-economically. Prejudice is when you put yourself in the judge's seat or the jury box. These men had the opportunity to witness a miracle, but rather than be a witness they wanted to be a judge.
And every day that you and I wake up we have an opportunity to witness resurrection power all around us. We get to witness it in the lives of others and we get to witness it on our own behalf. We get to be a witness, but you can't be a witness if you insist on being a judge. What I'm trying to say is this, have you already made up your mind how God can bless and who God can bless, and when God can bless? Have you already made up your mind about how God can do it to the extent that you miss that the very Author of life is right in front of you? And they are trying to kill the very thing that God sent to save them. Why? Because they've already made up their minds.
We pray for wisdom and God tries to send it through out wives, but we are prejudiced. We pre-judge the people that God sends to help us. So rather than accept the wisdom, since we don't like the truck that it came in, we'll send back the wisdom, 'cause "She's always like that". Well she's the one that God might use to show you your system. This whole chapter is worth preaching. I wish we had all week.
Alright, touch your neighbor, say, "Fix the system". Fix the system. They were lookin'. I see it sometimes. I see people who look like they came to church as a favor. Or, like a last resort or somethin'. Like, will you stop asking me if I'll come once? Man, they are looking for something not to like. Sometimes, you can feel the energy of somebody where it's just like, "Hmmm..". And they will miss a revelation 'cause one of the worship leaders had a rip in his jeans. "I just don't know if...". And God was trying to show you And God was trying to show you how holy is — You missed it.
Looking for a reason. Looking for a reason. He was a threat to them. So they already made up their mind. They already had their verdict and now they just needed to collect the evidence. It's called confirmation bias. When you wake up believing God is for me, you look for evidence to support that verdict. When you wake up believing that all things work together for my good and that nothing can separate me from the love of God, here's how good it is. When you believe that, when you are looking for a reason to rejoice, rather than a reason to accuse, it causes you to weigh things differently.
So you say like Paul said in Corinthians. He said on one hand we're pressed, but on the other hand we're not crushed. On one hand we're persecuted, but on the other hand we're not abandoned. On one hand we're struck down, but on the other hand we're not destroyed. In other words what I'm trying to say is that if you would get out of the judge's seat and get a witness mentality, "God, I wanna see to the good in people. I wanna see the best in people. I wanna believe in the best about people. I wanna see the opportunity and opposition". Somebody shout I'm lookin' for it. I'm not looking for a reason to be offended, I'm looking for a way to forgive. How many are glad that God looked beyond your faults and saw your needs? He could've accused you. He could've condemned you. He could've cast you down, but he didn't. How many are grateful for what he did to you?!