Steven Furtick - The Path of Peace
I want to share a brief Christmas message with you today, and don't get me wrong just because I said brief. For me brief means something different than it may mean at other churches, but don't wanna take too long, understand the demands of this season.
And so, let me just share with you from Luke 1:67-79: "His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied 'Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us — to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy Covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, my child, would be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven'".
Somebody say, "Here comes heaven". Tell your neighbor, "watch out, here it comes". 40% of you participated, when I asked you to touch your neighbor. You don't like him, look at him and say, "here it comes". The priest Zechariah is speaking of the prophet John the Baptist, and he's now talking about Jesus, whom John the Baptist was pointing to. He said that he will shine on those living in darkness, and in the shadow of death, in the shadow of death, in that place of despair, to guide our feet into the path of peace. That's my title for today: the path of peace. And I won't make you talk to your neighbor one more time after this, but look at him and say, "You look, like you need some of that peace, that he's preaching about".
We have a challenge today, to try to calm our minds and receive the message. My brother comes to church, he's here right now, and comes to church whenever he lives in New Jersey, he's like: I bet you love preaching at the Christmas, everybody's in the spirit. And I was like: no, it's not my favorite time to preach, because people are so stressed out. And you have to work three times as hard, because it's stuffy, sometimes people brought a relative, and they don't want that relative to see, how they normally act in church. And so, they they tense up, and then they've got so much going on, it's actually you would think it would be, you know, Jesus's birthday it would be an easy occasion to preach, but I actually find it more challenging not less, because it's just stress levels are higher.
Happy birthday Jesus, we created chaos and commercialism, that drives us all to the brink of insanity in your name. Thank you for being born. The spirit of season. But I always wished as a preacher that I could have a metaphysical power to read your mind, I would think that would be so helpful to do my job, if I could see your stress level, or even if you had a number like the beds, that have the Sleep Number. What if I could see your stress number on today? I could do it so much better, cause I could see like are you at a 7 or a 3. Matter fact, right now, what would you give your stress level one to ten, just in this moment? So, I'm here in a... who said three? You're not old enough to have a three stress level, you're supposed to be like 80, before you realize, that all the crap you worry about, isn't worth worrying about, and then you can have a three stress level, where you just don't care. I can't wait to get old and just not care. That'd be great. You're too young for that.
But somebody said ten. Did you say ten? And I'm not gonna ask you why. In fact I don't even have to. All right, here's what we'll do, we do another one, real quick, I know this is personal, but at every location play long. Close your eyes, get the thing on your mind, that is the greatest source of stress in your life at this very moment. And you better not be picturing me. All right, get it on your mind. What is the single greatest source of stress in your life? Well broaden it a little bit, not in this very very moment, but in this season of your life. All right, you got it? Now open your eyes. You're gonna be shocked, but I know what you were thinking. I know this much, I know that the thing that you thought of, fell into one of the following four categories, okay, it was either related to a place, a pace, a problem or a person. Or maybe people, peoples just in general, all of them, every last one of them, just human beings, Homo-Sapiens.
So it's either a place, that you're going after this or even for some people church can be stressful. It can be stressful too. I'm sure it's stressful to come to Elevation, I'm sure, you know, if you've never been here, especially because it's confusing, because they got like violins and cellos on the stage, but then they start shooting laser beams, and it's this mixed messaging like: what kind of church is this? Is this a white church, black church, it's a Traditional Church? Yes to all of the above. It's the kind of church, where you can't figure out, what kind of church. It's a good news to all people kind of church, but some of the stressful places that we will go this Christmas season, it could be a place, if you have to fly, certainly understand your dread for that experience, just walk through the airport telling yourself over and over again: I'm not a human, I have no rights and you'll be okay.
The pace of life, I hear people mention this a lot, how you doing busy? Busy-busy-busy. One-armed wallpaper hanger - I said that to me the other day. That's weird busier, than a three-legged cat trying to cover up his poop on ice. Somebody said to me: run around like a chicken with my head cut off. So violent. All I said is: how are you doing? You're like decapitating chickens? So it's like the pace of life, understand that if you've been running people everywhere, you've been like an unpaid UBER-driver for a 13 year old, I understand. Sometimes it comes down to a problem in your life, that is persistent, and sometimes it comes down to one thing you're just pushing through right now. A lot of people listening to me preach right now, having a hard time focusing with their minds, because of the pain in their body or what can be even worse, somebody that you love, that you can't do anything to comfort them, and that can be difficult. And really, the the fourth category that I mentioned people, that's really the the whole thing which is why when I asked you to imagine in your mind the source of your stress, the greatest source of your stress, I was very clear, I said imagine it, because some of you would have started pointing, if I were to let you, which is a bad idea, like some of you are sitting next to what you perceived to be, the source. See you should look really confused right now, is my advice.
I think is important, before we begin a discussion on the path of peace, to try to talk about the source of stress, because whatever you identify as the source of your stress, determines where you will seek your peace, amen. Don't say that again? Whatever you say: this is the source of my stress - that regulates and determines where you seek your peace. And so, the Christmas story, of course comes along and challenges us in all of those ways, that we experience stress and pressure. Christ is born to challenge us, as it relates to our expectation of peace.