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Steven Furtick - The Paradox of Progress


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My scripture for this worship encounter with God is from Philippians 3. That's the text I believe God wants to speak to us through today. And if you wanna join me there and just follow along. I usually preach from the New International Version, the one that says NIV if you're pulling it up on a Bible app or something. And you can pull it up with me or it'll just be right on the screens. And I like to read you Verses 7-16 to get a full context of what Paul is saying in this passage.

He said, "But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ. Yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do..."

I've gotta focus on this. I've gotta shut some other things out and make sure that I'm going after the right goal. So what I have to do is, "Forget what is behind and I'm straining toward what is ahead". I press on through dangers. I press on through difficulties. I press on through low emotional states. I press on through migraine headaches. I press on through dysfunctional tendencies within myself. "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you". Paul's like, "If you don't agree with me, God will straighten you out". And then Verse 16 says something surprising, "Only let us live up to what we have already attained".

So the title I wanna give this message is, "The Paradox of Progress". "The Paradox of Progress". And you may be seated. I gotta do something before we go forward as to get you excited about the word paradox because the essence of the Gospel is paradox. The essence of God is paradox. And yet it's one of those words like kind of where you kind of know what it means. Okay, so Abby comes up to me while I'm studying for this sermon and it was just the perfect illustration. She's like, "Can I work alongside you"? And she had some typing class that she's taking for school and she needed to work on her typing drills.

So they were giving her words to type. And she kept interrupting me, which I don't mind at all because we're in that stage of bonding where she's never an interruption to me. She's usually not an interruption to me. She's rarely — I'm trying to work on my accuracy up here in front of you. She's rarely an interruption to me. We just really, really are harmonized right now and I know it might not be like that forever so I'm like, "Yeah, sure, come on. Work with me, interrupt me. It's all good". And but it was fun 'cause I'm a word guy. And so when she was stopping to ask me and she's in second grade so I can still handle her homework. I only have like one more year of being smarter than her.

So she's like, "What does..." And she started asking me what certain words meant. She's like, "What does conditioning mean"? And it was funny 'cause I know exactly what it means, but sometimes it's hard to explain it even though you know it. Let me ask you. What does conditioning mean? So you're like, "It's like what you get used to". That's what I said. I don't know if that helped her understand it or not. She goes back to typing. And then she asked me another one. What was it?

Hold on, I wrote it down 'cause it was real funny the ones she said because they were words I knew — Oh, she said what does reproduce mean? I was like, "You know, you make more of something from yourself". And then I shut it down because I didn't want her to really start asking about reproduction in the technical sense. This is my favorite one. "What does typewriter mean"? And I felt old, you know. I'm like, "You really don't know"? And so I told her about the typewriter and the Brother Word Processor and dinosaurs and other things. She seriously didn't know. "What does typewriter mean"? And then I was like this is getting good and I need to record this in case it's like a sermon illustration. So I pulled out the phone and snuck this little video.

Steven: Spell it again.

Abby: D-e-f-i-l-e-m-t-m-e-n-t;

Steven: Spell it one more time.

Abby: D-e-f-i-l-e... wait d-e-f-i-l-e-m-e-n-t;

Steven: Defilement. It's like when you take something that is clean and make it dirty or you take something that is good and make it bad or something like that. Okay, like in the Bible, if the unclean touched the clean, it would defile the clean, you know. Hey, you know what I'm saying?

Abby: Uh, sort of, yeah.

Steven: Does that make sense?

Abby: Sort of.

Steven: Sort of.


Sort of. I don't know if you could hear her. I said, "Does that make sense"? 'Cause I knew what it meant, but I knew I really wasn't breaking it down where she needed it and so she said, "Sort of". I don't wanna hurt your feelings, not really, just sort of. People were asking me about the title of this worship project. We call it "Paradoxology". And, of course, growing up in the Methodist Church, we sang the Doxology. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. And that's where we got the title "Hallelujah, Here Below". Praise Him all creatures here below. Like down here on earth, not just in heaven. We need to praise Him even in broken situations. We need to praise Him even with uncertain faith. We need to praise Him even in challenging times.

And so the Doxology is called; the 'doxa' means glory, 'logia' is expression oral or written. So it's an expression of glory, giving praise to God. Praise God all creatures here below. Just like the host of heaven praise Him, you can praise Him better. Because they've always been perfect, but you haven't always been and you're still not. And the paradox is that a perfect God desires imperfect praise from funky, messy, petty people like you. So I called it "Paradoxology". You know, just the fact that we can praise God even though we don't deserve to because of the Blood of Jesus. It's mind-boggling. And it's different than a contradiction. A contradiction is two things that cannot possibly be true at the same time. It's raining cats and dogs, there's not a cloud in the sky. It's gotta be one or the other. But with God, we find paradox and that is that on the surface it seems as if both cannot be true, but He's bigger than that.

Nowhere is the paradox of the Gospel as played out in the practical implications of our everyday life more apparent than Philippians 3 where Paul says, "I had ascended to the heights of the resume virtues of religion within Judaism. I was circumcised on the eighth day like I was supposed to be. I studied under Gamaliel and he was a boss. I was of the tribe of Benjamin where the kings come from. I was important and significant, but now I've made a decision. I'm going to write all of those things off and I'm going to reach towards something better and bigger and the thing about it is, as I am living in Christ, I am dying to self".

It's a paradox. And he's describing in many ways a paradoxical view of progress as it relates to spiritual growth. Can I teach and preach a little bit this weekend? The paradox of progress. It seems as if Paul is saying that as I am gaining strength in God, I am losing a sense of certainty in things I used to trust in. And when he said it, whatever were gains to me, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ, it got me thinking about the paradox of progress. How sometimes we want to move forward in an area of our life, but it seems like it's difficult to keep everything in our life moving forward all at once. It seems like it's difficult to apply our limited self to what seems like an endless, ceaseless list of demands and supplies. So that some days you find yourself really doing well at work and really unable to give focus at home because, by the time you get home, you spent all of the currency of your energy at work.

And so I made progress at work, but home is more important and yet I don't have as much to give to what is more important, but yet it's important that I work because I need to bring some money home because if I don't bring some money home, I won't have a home to come home to. Then I'll be standing out in the rain talking about blame it on the rain and I'll be lip syncing like Milli Vanilli and talking about girl, you know it's true, but the only thing about it is we don't have any money and that's true. And so it's a paradox. It's a paradox of progress that sometimes when I'm moving forward in one area, I can't move forward in another. And this is the part I'm excited about.

I have three points. If we only get to one, this is the one I wanna preach. Because sometimes Paul shows us that what's most important is least impressive. As a society, we celebrate all the wrong stuff. Have you noticed? As a human race, we celebrate all the wrong stuff. And as somebody who manages a ministry that has a reach that goes just beyond one town, I can tell you right now, people celebrate the wrong stuff. They think that a church is built on the preacher's gift. It's not. A preacher's gift... well, you said that a little too loud. That hurt my feelings about that, but you're right, you're right. It's not. It's not that. And people will celebrate a lot of things that are surface level.

So Paul had all of that, you understand. He had all of the credentials. He had all of the bells. He had all of the things that go in a bio to make you look significant. And yet what he said was so powerful, he said that I gave up what was impressive in order to reach towards something that was actually important. I feel like I'm about to stage dive to preach this. And one thing you need to know is that a lot of the changes that will happen in your life that are the most important are the ones that you won't get any compliments about. Because I've noticed this, once you get really consistent at something, people stop complimenting you about it. Am I right?

The best way to get compliments is to only do the right thing occasionally. The best way to get compliments if that's your goal is to be a crappy dad who only comes around on Christmas and only shows up to give the kids what they want and never disciplines them and only shows up to break the rhythm that's trying to be established. If you're gonna be the kind of dad that's actually handling some of the disciplinary issues or the kind of mom that's actually parenting rather than trying to win a popularity contest with your teenager, you will not receive as many compliments. And people are crazy. People celebrate all the wrong stuff. If you get in shape, watch this, here's the one thing I have. I compliment people who stay in shape. Right? 'Cause usually what you have to do to get a compliment on physical fitness is lose a bunch of weight and I just think that's wrong.

So I don't go up to people and be like, "You look like you've been losing weight". Because first of all, that might sound like an insult to them so it's awkward to say. But secondly, I walk up to people and I be like, "You still look good". I do. I believe in complimenting consistency. You know, like thanks for being on time. Like you parted the Red Sea. That ain't a miracle. But what happens is when you get really good at something, people take you for granted. When you are consistent, you stop getting compliments. So if people have stopped complimenting you, that is the highest compliment. It means you are so consistent that you have a basis or a foundation and you can then be set free from the need to be impressive.

And that's what Paul was. He said, "I gave up what was impressive to people to pursue what was important to me". I feel the Holy Ghost telling 50 people delete Instagram before you take another note on my sermon. And give up what is impressive for a month for something more important. I feel the Spirit of God saying some of y'all spend too much money on clothes and you are so behind on your school loans and if you keep trying to impress people, you are going to impress people right into your own depression trying to climb out of a pit of what people see. Y'all don't like the preacher today, but he's on point. He heard from God.

And Paul said, "All that I thought was gain and what I thought was important, I found out that it's the interior state". He said, "I wanna righteousness that comes from God through faith. I wanna be more focused on the invisible stuff". So I'll take you to Palm Sunday since it's Palm Sunday right now. And since Jesus came into Jerusalem and He's entering not a Bethphage or Bethany. Bethany's two miles away. That's where He stayed at night. But He's setting up for the crucifixion, for the scene where He will pay the price for our sins. Where He will die like a criminal even though He reigns like a King. It's a paradox. And what He says in Luke 19, I wish I had time to preach that passage to you.

Can we look at it for one moment together? And I promise I will go fast. But Jesus is getting ready to go into the city. And he stops short of the city. He's on the Mount of Olives. You remember that's where Gethsemane is. That's where He will be pressed. That's where His capillaries will burst so that He sweats like drops of great blood, but all of that is still in front of Him. And His ministry has been exploding. And when He gets to the place where He's about to make His entry, He makes preparations. And the Bible says in Luke 19:28, "After He had taught them..." A certain teaching about the Kingdom of God and how it doesn't come all at once, but it comes in stages and it takes patience to see the reign of God come in your life. And don't expect progress to come all at once. And don't expect proof to accompany every step that you take in faith.

"And after He had taught that, He told them something as they approached Jerusalem," 29, please. Verse 30, He said, "Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you'll find a colt tied there, which no one has even ridden. Untie it and bring it here". Okay. So Jesus is giving them an instruction that sounds illegal. I'm gonna need you to go get me a little baby horse. I'm gonna take my horse down Old Town Road. I'm gonna ride. And He said, "As you are untying it, if they ask you why," tell them 'kurios', "the Lord, needs it". "Tell the owner that the Lord needs it". "Tell the one who is stewarding it that the One who made it needs it".

I think one of the disciples even though the disciples aren't named, it just says there were two of them, had to be Peter. Because Peter knew what it was like to have Jesus get in something that you own. That's how Peter's whole ministry started. Jesus just got in his boat and said, "Push me out, I've gotta preach". And so now Jesus, watch this paradox, who created the world needs something in the world He created. To even say that the Lord needs something is a paradox. It's a crazy situation to be in. But He doesn't just need any kind of horse. Not a regal horse. Not the kind of horse that a human king would ride in on. Remember, Jesus is fully God and fully man. It's a paradox. It shouldn't make sense, but it does. He's perfect and divine, but He's able to be touched by the feelings of our infirmity.

So He says, "Get a colt that has never been ridden. I'm gonna ride into the city like a humble king, not like the hype beast. Like a humble king. I'm gonna ride into the city. I'm not gonna walk because I'm a King, but I'm gonna ride on something that looks common. I'm gonna ride on something that is set aside for a special service. I'm gonna ride on something that was tied up until now". But I wonder if God brought somebody to church today because He wants to untie you and set you free from ways of being and thinking and dreaming and believing to serve the purpose he created you for. Anyway, it was kinda cool to me that the King rode in on a lowly colt. That someone so important rode in on something that wasn't impressive.

Some of the changes God wants to make in your life will not be the ones that people will tell you good job about. And the temptation is for us to make progress in the areas that get noticed because it feeds our ego. On social media, they call it vanity metrics. It's where Facebook wants you to buy more ads for your business so they tell you how many people that you're reaching, but you're not really reaching them, it's just growing through the feed. What you really gotta figure out is engagement. How deep is the connection? And people celebrate all the wrong stuff. Am I right? Am I right? Am I right, Jonsal? When you all went to the Grammy's, everybody was texting you. And it's cool to go to the Grammy's. But the Grammy's wasn't the most important thing Elevation Worship did last year, it was that consistent ministry week in, week out just showing up.

Look, I go and I travel to churches all over the world and I'm privileged to do it, but the first thing I do when I take the pulpit if the people are like, "Yea". You know, "We got a guest speaker. We love you, Pastor Steve". You know, because when, you know, when you come to town when people aren't used to seeing you and they don't know you that well, they're excited, the first thing I do is say, "Let's thank God for your pastor. Let's thank God for the people who every single week in this church, the staff members, the volunteers, the people who are in the parking lot, the people who are standing out in the rain to welcome you in, let's appreciate what's truly important, not just what's impressive".

Now Paul said, "I had all of this impressive residue of my religious accomplishments, but in order to pursue what was important and to seek first the Kingdom, I had to stop trying so dadgum hard..." That's what Paul said in Greek. "So dadgum hard, it was garbage, it was scubula, it was trash, it's trash compared to the treasure of knowing who I am in Christ and being connected to my source and walking in my purpose for a purpose with a purpose in the presence of God". Paul said, "I was circumcised..." That's outward. "I'm from Benjamin..." That's genetic. All of that, you can have all of that. I wanna fix my insides. I want a righteousness that comes from God. I want peace when I lay down on my pillow to know that this day I serve something bigger than me even if it hurt.

Change your approach and stop trying to grow into stuff that is glamorous and noticed by people. Paul said, "I wanna know Christ". That's one of those little phrases that I don't think we really know what it means. It's like "sort of". I wanna know Christ. You know what that means? Sort of. I've heard it before. It's like quoting Bible, right? Stop smoking stuff like that. Pray a lot. Missions trips. Like, yeah... "To know Him", Paul said, "I had to go into partnership with His sufferings to experience closeness". And this is why Jesus was forsaken by those that He called, loved, shepherded, and taught, imparted into is because the closer you get, the further you feel.

This is the paradox of progress and this is why you are growing in your faith at the same time that you're about to give up on it because it's a paradox of progress. The closer Jesus got to the cross, the more confused His disciples became. And sometimes the closer you get to God and the more you walk in His ways, the more questions you will have as you give up on the answers that were simple for one stage. But the closer you get, the more mature you become, the more progress you make, you find that the answers don't come so easy. You're no longer content with clichés because you wanna know Him. You wanna know who He really is.

Now they loved Him on Palm Sunday. Remember? They put those palm branches down. I don't even know where they got it from because that was from the other festival. They didn't even use those at Passover. But whether or not it's two different accounts merged together, we'll never know. They put the palm branches down in this passage in all of the Gospels that recorded and they were like in a loud voice, "Hosanna. Hosanna. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna". Here's what's weird about it. The Pharisees are like, "Shut 'em up". Jesus is like, "I can't. If they stop, the rocks will start shouting because who I am creates praise. Who I am creates expectation. When My presence shows up things have to change. Things have to change".

If you're sitting next to somebody who doesn't like you clap then tell 'em, "If I don't do it, the chair will. Something's gotta praise God. Something's gotta glorify Him. It might as well be something with breath. It might as well be me. So now, back to the text. He's going in and they're like, "Hosanna. Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven, and glory..." Doxa. Doxa. Remember doxa, glory, doxology, doxa. "Glory in the highest..." Doxa. "Peace in heaven, glory in the highest". Some Pharisees were like, "Shut 'em up". He's like, "And the stones will cry out".

But then what's crazy to me is this paradox. Remember, I love that word. I want you to love that word. I'm gonna preach on that word until you love that word. Paradox, it's like a contradiction only it happens to be true. And sometimes when you are frustrated with yourself because you feel like a contradiction. Right? I love God, but I love certain sins. I love God, but I still love this thing over here that I shouldn't love. It's not a contradiction, it's a paradox because His strength is made perfect in your weakness and His grace needs a place to operate. So He leaves a weakness in your life so that the King can ride in on a colt so that they won't celebrate what He rode in on. They'll celebrate Him on His rides in.

Where was I at? Oh, Verse 41, "As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city..." You got it, 19:21. "He wept over it". Wow. They were shouting, He was weeping. They were cheering and He was crying. He wasn't on the cross yet. That's not why He was crying. He wasn't in the garden yet. That's not why He was crying. There was no physical pain. He was crying because He knew they were celebrating the wrong thing. He knew that they thought that He was coming to fix it and He was coming to fix them. They thought He was coming to change the situation and the kingdom would come at once. But what He was really coming to do was deeper.

He said, "Jerusalem..." The name of the city means peace. City of peace. Jeru Salem. Salem, sounds like shalom, right? Peace. City of peace. You were supposed to be the city of peace. And look at Verse 42, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace, but now it is hidden from your eyes". What would bring you peace is at your gate and you will reject it because it comes riding on a colt looking common, looking ordinary. You will reject it because you do not understand the cross. And the closer Jesus got to His purpose, the further He got from their plan.

Has your plans been disrupted lately? You might be getting closer. You know how we used to play closer, closer, closer. I always thought it was interesting how Paul was blinded when he first got converted by Jesus on the Damascus Road. And it must have been weird because he had never been closer to God than he was in that moment. He'd been close to religion, he had climbed that ladder. But now he can't see.

And there's a sense in which when you really make progress in your walk with God, at first you think you know everything and now you've got the answer. But Jesus is the answer. What's the answer? Jesus is the answer. What's the answer for America? Jesus is the answer for America. What's the answer for our young people and the drug epidemic in the Appalachian? Jesus is the answer, you know. What's the answer for the inner... Jesus is the answer. What's the answer for alcohol? Jesus is the answer. But overtime you start asking better questions. And as you ask deeper questions, when you first start you think you're awesome.

Like Elijah is making beats rights now and I'm so proud of 'em and they're good. The first one he made, he thought it was ready for radio. He was ready to send it to Punk, Uzi, all the other Lils that I don't really like to listen to. And he's like, "Dad, this is amazing. Listen to my beat". But then he messed around and got good enough to know how much better he needed to be. When you first started something, you know, when I first started playing guitar, I told you about this last week, I thought I was amazing. When I first started preaching, I thought I was Billy Graham just waiting for a Tokyo crusade to call me. But today I stand before you and I understand that more than ever before at this point that even the attempt to describe the ways of God is an exercise in futility so it took me getting good enough at it to know how good at it I was not. It took me getting just good enough at it to know I'm not good at it at all.

Paul said, "The more that I press toward to the mark..." The more I realize that I have so far to go and so much to learn and so many things in me. You know, when you first start trying to walk with God, you get the mechanics down and you do this and you don't do that. But then God starts challenging your motives. And now it's no longer just about doing the right things and saying the right things and learning the right words and changing these protocols, now it's about something so much deeper. But the good news is if you feel like you've got so far to go, that is a good sign that you are actually getting closer to God. God's presence creates awareness. Awareness of your need. Awareness of His grace Awareness of His greatness. Awareness of His glory.

And you start to see that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And I don't have any judgment to give. And I don't have any hell to put anybody in. And I'm writing off all the things that I thought I knew to know the One who made me. The closer you get, the further you feel you have to go. This is the paradox of progress. It's the paradox of Jesus hanging on the cross and He's never been more powerful and He's never looked weaker. So I wanna address what Paul said before we finish today 'cause it always confused me, it always seemed like a paradox.

Do you know what that means? Paradox? Sort of. You know what I'm saying. Like the idea that God is sovereign, but I'm responsible. It's a paradox. That's what makes Him God. If I could explain it, I wouldn't have to have faith to believe it. I'm completely comfortable. How can you serve and love God when God... I'm completely comfortable with that. He's great big God, I'm little ole me, that settles it for me. I understand how His ways are higher than my ways, His thoughts are higher than my thoughts.

So Paul says, "I wanna know Him, and the power of His resurrection..." Yeah, yeah, yeah. I want some of that resurrection power. "And participation in the fellowship of His sufferings". At first, I thought he meant that he wanted to die for Christ and ultimately he was on house arrest at the end of the Book of Acts when he did suffer. Many imprisonments and eventual death for Christ. Right? But I read it differently. He said, "I wanna participate in His sufferings, in His death while I live". That's the paradox.

Now watch this. Lord, help me deliver this. Paul's not saying I wanna die like Christ died, he's saying I wanna live like Christ died. And that means that I'm constantly going through cycles of death and resurrection. That means I'm constantly having to die to shallow desires so that He can give me the desires of my heart and do a new thing in me. And whatever I have to let go and whatever I have to write off and whatever I have to let you have, you know, some things are not worth me fighting for anymore. Whatever was gained, whatever I thought was important, I'm giving it up for something more important. I want to know connection with Christ. And I wanna live like He died so when people insult me, I wanna learn to let that go like He did. I wanna live like He died.

You wanna die like He died? No, I wanna live like He died. And what it will look like sometimes, people will think I'm losing, but really I'm winning. It'll seem like and feel like I'm losing. Now the Lord told me it was really important to say this. Some of you have been convinced you're in a losing season right now because you feel very discombobulated on the inside. You're not so certain about certain things that are going on in your life right now. It is not a loss. In fact, it is a new level. It is actually you going deeper into the things of God to understand His heart at a level that you couldn't have before.

So Paul said, "If I have to take an ill, if I have to go through some things that are painful for me, if I have to be a colt, if I have to look like a donkey, if I have to ride in looking ridiculous for the purpose of God to be fulfilled, I wanna live like He died. If I have to hang on a cross to bring forth resurrection power. If I have to go to Jerusalem, and if I have to face the jeers and the taunts and the ridicule and the rejection, if I have to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, nevertheless not my will, but Yours be done, I'm willing to do it. It's not a goal, it's a gift".

What you're reaching for, is already yours. Paul said, "All I'm trying to do is take hold of that for which Christ already took hold of me". I'm not trying to arrive at a place where God loves me. I'm just trying to live out of the love that He has already demonstrated and express His glory, doxology. I'm trying to express His glory through my weakness. I'm trying to ride into town like a little donkey so I can carry the purpose of God in my life. And it might seem small and sometimes it feels like I'm going backwards and sometimes it feels like it'd be easier just not to come to church altogether and quit trying and just give into my tendencies. But the paradox of progress is this, it's already yours. The grace that you need to change is already yours. The grace that you need to go forward is already yours. The grace that you need to rise up is already yours. The grace that you need to do it in the face of adversity and uncertainty, it's already yours. What you are reaching for is already yours.

And I wanna pray for some people today. Are you gonna play? I wanna pray for some people today who have been moving forward, but it's been a fight and it's been frustrating every step of the way and you are going to have to let go of some things to reach for your purpose. What I'm gonna pray today, the instruction that the Holy Spirit is giving me is that you would experience Philippians 3:16 and live up to what you have already attained. Isn't that a beautiful verse to say, "I'm moving forward, but I already made it. I wanna be more like Christ, but not so He will love me more. I wanna move forward toward my purpose, but not to prove something. I just wanna carry the King into Jerusalem. I just wanna carry the purpose of God".

You know what, I wanna raise those three kids God has given me. I wanna love my wife in a way that she can be proud to be my wife. I wanna pastor the church that He gave me in a way that would be honorable. I wanna preach messages to help people. And I don't have to be anything other than what I am to do it. Jesus said, "I wanna ride on a colt. I wanna little donkey. I wanna little horse. I want a little thing. I want a little thing so I can ride in on something that will give Me glory". We celebrate the wrong stuff, y'all. We celebrate the wrong stuff. The Lord rejoices to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. He rejoices to see the beginning of a thing. And the King comes riding in on a colt.

We've gotta celebrate steps. We've gotta celebrate crosses. We've gotta celebrate even our sufferings, not because we're going through them, but because they achieve in us a glory, a doxa, that outweighs all of the tribulations. So God, help me celebrate what I see as a setback now. Help me celebrate what I see as confusion. Help me feel around in the darkness and find my way down the Damascus Road until I can see what you've called me to be. I wanna know Him in the fellowship of His suffering so that I can experience the resurrection power of the humbled King, the King of weakness, who is our strength.

With your heads bowed and your eyes closed today, I declare that the devil has been lying to you. You are making progress. You are making progress. And progress isn't pretty. Um-mmm. Usually, yards are hard fought when you really wanna live for God, especially you've been doing it a little while. I mean it gets harder and harder and harder. That's the paradox of progress. This should be easy by now. How come I have to forgive this person for the 791st time? I thought I did it already. The paradox of progress is every time you do it, you do it deeper, and God is dealing with something different.

I pray today that God would show you a glimpse of your progress. I really want you to see it because it's important that you know it on the inside even if people don't see it. You know, they might not notice. People will come up and say, "Oh, you've lost weight". But they won't say, "Oh, you've lost bitterness". They don't know how to compliment that 'cause usually what's the most important isn't the most impressive. But may the Lord give you the priorities today to know. I'll count it all loss. I'll write it all off what they think, what they say for the sake of being connected to Christ. That matters to me. That matters to me. For the sake of fulfilling my calling, that matters to me.

Lord, I delivered Your Word like the donkey that I am today. Just one stumbling step after another to get it to the people. Now it's between You and them. Whatever You spoke to them in these moments, seal it. It's so important to me that today they sense Your grace and that they apprehend that for which You have apprehended them. Let 'em know that You've got them in Your grip. That they might be trying to hold onto something, but You're holding onto them so that as we take hold of that for which You took hold of us, we are not striving and straining, but trusting and believing. In Jesus name.
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