Steven Furtick — You're Not A Hostage
This message only has two points, and these two points are the master keys to living your Christian life by faith. The first thing I found out about faith is that faith is an interpretation. Faith is an ability to see a situation like the valley of the shadow of death and say about it, even though I go through it, I will fear no evil because you're with me. And the proof that God is with me in this season of my life is not the fact that he got me out of the valley but that he saw me through it. That's an interpretation.
Some people would say that because you're going through the valley right now it's proof that God has left you. Other people would say that the reason that you're going through the valley right now is because there is something so great on the other side that God is leading you through a place that you've never been before, and when you see what he has for you on the other side, these light and momentary afflictions are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed. That's Paul. Paul says, "I have an interpretation of faith".
An interpretation is really important in marriage. It's really important because it's a cross-cultural relationship. It's an interesting thing when Holly asks me a question sometimes because what she'll really be asking me and what she asks me are two entirely different things. I had to learn to discern and interpret her requests. There's a deeper meaning. I'd like you to follow me through this passage for a moment. This is really more like a Bible study tonight that I wanted to give you to ask the question, are you headed in the right direction? Are you thinking the right way about the situation that you're in? Can these bones live again? You alone, Lord. No, faith is an interpretation.
Paul says, "I'm here in this prison," but I I want you to know brothers and sisters, verse 12, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance. Really cool word for advance it means to make progress for headway in spite of severe blows. So when he says that the gospel is advancing and making progress, he means that it's making progress in spite of having to make progress in the direction of resistance. Many of us will interpret our difficulty as a sign that God has not called us to this assignment. Paul's interpretation is this. The fact that I'm going through so much is proof that the purpose of God is being accomplished because the enemy doesn't attack anybody that's not carrying anything. This is how the country preacher said at one time. You want to hear what he said? He said, "If you hadn't," let me say it like you said it. "If you hadn't had a head-on collision with the devil lately, you might be headed in the same direction".
Somebody shot, I'm carrying something. I'm carrying a calling. I'm carrying the Spirit of God, the spirit of revival. I'm carrying an anointing. I'm making progress in spite of. I'm rolling with the punches. I'm moving with the punches. The opposition does not hinder the progress. In fact, the very fact that I'm being opposed is a sign to me that I'm a threat to the devil, so I think I'll keep moving forward in spite of it. I feel like preaching a faith message tonight, for somebody it was headed in the right direction. He says it's actually serving to advance the gospel. I know it looks like things have slowed down since I've been in this prison, but actually I'm here doing work and as long as God leaves me in this situation, I refuse to have a hostage mentality.
So as for me, verse 13, as a result of my being here in this place I wouldn't have chosen to be, it has become clear throughout the whole palace garden to everyone else that I am in changed for Christ. What a thing to say. It's not that God put these chains on me. I was actually put in Chains by the Roman government, but I'm in Chains for Christ's like kind of like Joseph in the Old Testament. You meant it for evil God meant it for good. I know the why and that's how I can survive the what. I can survive no matter what because I know the why. Everywhere God puts me, every season I will find myself in every situation that my life will encounter I know my why.
Here's the good news. You can survive any what when you know your why. I wonder, do you know your why? Not to the extent that you can give a perfect diagnosis for why every bad thing happens to you but Paul says these chains are on me for Christ. I'm choosing to see this situation, this limitation. I'm choosing to see this even though it wasn't done by God. God didn't put me in prison. God doesn't make people sick. God didn't take your job away. God didn't cause the betrayal. But now that I'm in this situation, I choose to believe that God has me here. God put me here. That that's the message of Philippians chapter 1. God put me here I'm confident of this very thing that he who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it to the day of Christ. God put me here.
Even if he used Judas to get Jesus to the cross, or was God's will being accomplished when he was there. Paul says, "I'm not a hostage. Don't cry for me. Don't feel sorry for me. I refuse to blame others. I'm not a hostage". I won't spend one single verse of Philippians chapter 1, complaining about the situation. I could but I won't. Maybe I should but I won't, because I'm not a hostage. Come on declare it, "I'm not a hostage". On every location say it so the devil gets nervous, "I'm not a hostage". I'm not a hostage to what people think about me. I'm not a hostage to what people say about me. I'm not a hostage to the opinions. I'm not a hostage to my situation. I'm not a hostage to disability. I'm not a hostage to lack. I'm not a hostage to shortage. I'm not a hostage to heartbreak. I'm not a hostage to shame. As a matter of fact, let's take it to another level. I'm not a hostage. I'm a weapon formed in the hands of God aimed at the darkness, created to do good works in Christ Jesus.
Come on, let's worship him for a moment tonight there's no weapon formed against me will be able to prosper. Paul said, "God put me here. I'm a weapon. God put me here and when he takes me out I'll praise Him, but I'm going to rejoice right now". Then in verse 18 Paul makes a shift, everybody say, "shift happens". Because up to this point it's been an interpretation. Here's what happened and here's how I see God's hand in it. You can't always see it while you're going through it. Remember when the Bible says in Genesis, "The Lord was with Joseph. The Lord was with Joseph. The Lord was with Joseph. The Lord was with Joseph. The Lord was with Joseph," that was not written while Joseph was suffering. It was written looking back on what he went through.
Don't write your story while you're still in the scene. We live in a world that doesn't know the difference between a scene and a story. The enemy wants you to judge the story by the scene that you're in. Now wouldn't it be a shame for you to give up on the story because you didn't like the scene? Paul said, "This is just a scene, it's not the story", and watch the shift. He moves from interpretation to anticipation. Anticipation, he starts looking forward. It's interesting because he doesn't really know what's ahead of him but he looks forward to it anyway. He doesn't know if he's gonna live or die. That's really out of his hands. He doesn't know if he gets out Monday or if he'll be here for 36 more months, but he looks forward.
I'll show you how I know he looks forward. Let's count the number of times he says the word "will" in the next 10 verses. Every time I say the word "will" you count up out loud every campus. Yes, verse 18, and "I will continue to rejoice for I know that through your prayers and God's provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me we'll turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body whether by life or by death for, to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Either way, I'm coming out ahead".
I said either way, I'm coming out ahead I said either way, I will come out ahead. I would have despaired unless I believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. What verse are we on? I lost my place. Mm-hmm if I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me yet what shall", that counts as well count at seven. "I choose. I do not know, I'm torn between the two. I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far, but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. I'm more concerned about your progress than my convenience. It's not about me. It's about something bigger than me.
Thank God for 5,000 volunteers in this church that were more concerned about somebody else's purpose than your sleep this week. Thank you. Thank you. What verse? He says, "I think it's better that I stay, better for you not for me. I want to go, I'm old. My back hurts. My knees hurt. I'm convinced of this, verse 25, "I know that I will remain and I will continue with all of you for your progress".
What if it's not about you it's about your kids? What if they need to see you stay in your chains and praise God anyway? That's what my mom did. She stayed with my dad and showed me forgiveness, and because of her example when she could have chosen to escape but she embraced the pain of the situation to bring about a greater purpose, she passed to me a legacy of covenant. I wonder are some of you... oh there's one more. Because he says in verse 26, "so that through my being with you again, your boasting in Christ Jesus". 10 verses 10 times he says, "I will". And it's weird that he says "I will" because he doesn't know what's next, and yet he says I'm looking forward to it, looking forward to it.
Faith is anticipation minus anxiety. It's a weird concept and and even Paul as brilliant as he was, he didn't have a word for it to describe the kind of faith that he was trying to talk about. He's struggling for the right word and he does something that, I wouldn't do this as a preacher I wouldn't feel that that I was qualified but he's Paul, so he just makes up a word. It's in verse 20. We read it in English, it's several words in English. "I eagerly expect and hope," in verse 20, "I eagerly expect and hope", in Greek it's one word, one word, and it was never used before Paul used it and it's only used one more time in the New Testament and he uses it, so it's his word.
How many of you have your own word you just did. Yeah, you make up words sometimes? Holly makes up words on accident a lot of times. She said the other day, "I'm not very good, what was the word? I'm not very good at improvision". Improvision but it's improvisation, she just made it up on accident. Paul makes up a word on purpose. Here's the word. Just think how gratifying it's gonna be to bust this out on your family and friends this week when they ask what you learned in church. We'll have to take it slow because it's three words put together to make one, and it's gonna give you something new to fight the devil with because I know you've been anxious and I know you have reason to be, and I know there are some things in your life that you've been praying for God to take away and he won't. Paul experienced that too when he asked God to remove the thorn and God said no. And he said pretty, pretty please, and God said no again. And Paul said, "I'll do anything, I promise. I'll be a missionary". God said, "You already are one, no. I'm gonna give you grace instead".
And sometimes when God won't change the situation but he's changing you, you need a little bit of Apo Kara Dokia in your life, three words. Apo, this side say Apo. You're gonna mumble it like that? This is a very big word. It's a very beautiful word. You'll be shouting it by the time I finish, so this side of the room say "Apo". You might want to know this. Apo means to turn away with concentration ignoring other interests. Apo, say it again now, Apo. Turning away from things that could consume my attention, things that could distract me, things that I used to think we're important but I found out like Paul it really doesn't matter, so I'm turning away with concentration ignoring other interests, Apo.
I feel like I could preach a whole series on Apo a whole series just on the prefix. Paul isn't done. He says, Apo Kara. Middle section say "Kara". Just means head. That's all it means. In this section, Dokia.Good, Dokia, say it again, "Dokia". It means to stretch forward. Wooh! Paul says, "Let me tell you what I'm doing right now. I'm turning away my attention from some things that could make me discouraged. I'm turning away from my attention from offenses that could make me bitter. I'm turning away from things that could preoccupy my mind that aren't my real priority, and I am stretching my head forward. Apo Kara Dokia. Say it, Apo Kara Dokia.
What are you gonna do this week when thoughts come to you about how you're not gonna make it. You're gonna take a moment, look back on the faithfulness of God, and realize that if the lion didn't kill you and the bear didn't kill you this choker doesn't have anything for you either, pick up your rock and throw it and stretch your head towards your future. Apo Kara Dokia, Apo Kara Dokia, Apo Kara Dokia, say it. Apo Kara Dokia. I'm stretching my head forward. Are you headed in the right direction? Some of us have our heads so far up our past that we can't see what God has out in front of us for our future. Help me preacher it'll get worse. I'm not leaving this stage till you get it. I can't dwell on that any longer. I can't stand in the disappointment of who left me. I've got to invest in the people who are still with me. Apo Kara Dokia, stretch your head forward. I can't stay in my last mistake. It's already covered by the blood of Christ. What I did is what I did but my faith will make a way for the grace of God to bring me into a greater tomorrow. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed.
Apo Kara Dokia, I'm looking forward to it. I don't even know what it is yet but I'm looking forward to it because I know God is in it. Are you headed in the right direction? Have you been so stuck in what was that you're missing what is? I really feel like this is a message that you can apply in any season of your life. Like Paul you can say, I got these chains on my feet so I can't move. I got these shackles on my hands so I'm limited. My mobility is limited, but they can't chain this. I said they can't chain this. I'm stretching my mind, and I'm stretching my expectation, and I refuse to be defined by the disappointments of yesterday. I refuse to look around me for signs of whether or not God is with me. I'm looking forward to it. I'm not a hostage. They can chain my feet, they can chain my hands, but they can't lock down my praise. Right here in this prison, not when I feel better, not when it gets better, right here and right now I'm looking forward to it.