Steven Furtick - I'm Still Scared (Easter 2020)
God is positioning me. Say, "I'm positioned for a miracle". And that means that we have to learn how to see in our spirit what we cannot sense. And this is such an important skill that I want to devote my whole sermon to it today. Let me read you this story. You may be familiar with it, maybe not. But just to jump right in the middle of it in 2 kings chapter 6 verse 15, the book says, "When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots surrounded the city". What he said next is what a lot of us have been saying, maybe we have been using different words, maybe we have been using stronger language, but he said, "Oh, no, my Lord". Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no, no. How many of you moms when you heard how long they whether canceling school, "Oh, no. No, no, no, no". How many of y'all when you met with your financial advisor and clicked on your account were like, "Oh, no, no, oh, no".
I wish y'all put that in the chat with a bunch of ohs, say "Oh, no". Just as many ohs as your thumb can type. And we feel that way, especially if we are worried about symptoms or if we are struggling in an emotional way, "Oh, no". I love where it says in the Bible, his response, he is a servant of the man of God, but his first response was not "Praise God", his first response was, "Oh, no". And we want to pretend to be real spiritual. I see all your prayer emojis, but you've been having some emojis too. You need to find that little devil emoji. Because really, you know what happened to the servant in the passage. Let me take a moment to set this up. Do you have anything else to do? I don't have anything else to do. We may as well hang out for awhile, but he woke up to a different world than the one went to sleep in. He woke up to a different world than the one he went to sleep in. He said "Oh, no".
Now, if you've ever woken up to a different world, than the one you went to sleep in, you'll understand that it creates an impulse: some people call it fear, I just call it humanity. It's like, "Oh, yeah". If you've ever lost somebody, if they left your life suddenly, whether they died or just went away and you woke up to a different world that didn't have them in it, like maybe you remember the first time you woke up in a world without your dad, maybe you remember the first time you woke up in a world without a steady job, remember the first time you woke up in the world without the NBA. I remember when they started canceling everything a couple weeks ago, and I say it, not in a humorous way, but when things get canceled that you used to count on, it makes you question everything.
And so, whether it is something we would say "It's entertainment or it's this or that", it is just the feeling of like "Oh, no". Watch this question. It gets even more specific. "What shall we do"? Okay. That's where you find yourself today. I want to preach a message to you, "What do I do"? What do I do? And the servant asked the question, and the prophet gives the answer in verse 16. He says, "Don't be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them. And Elisha prayed", we will get this prayer today, and we are going to pray it for the next seven days until I see you again in this format, we are going to pray this prayer over those we love and we are going to pray this prayer over ourselves.
Here is the prayer. I've been putting this on all my text messages, because I've got business leaders in my church that are like "Oh, no. What do we do"? I've got doctors in our church saying "Oh, no, what do we do"? And I don't have the answer. So this is the prayer. This is the prayer that I want us to pray right about now. "Open his eyes, Lord that he may see". Open his eyes, Lord, that he may see. Somebody put in the chat, "Open my eyes". Put in the comment, "Open my eyes". Those of you sitting on schools behind me, say "Open my eyes". "I'm his eyes so he may see. Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha".
And you know, I love that text so much. I love how God was protecting his servant and how God was more powerful than the enemy and I love how "No weapon formed against us shall prosper". I love all that, but sometimes when you are in a real situation or a circumstance, the cliches don't comfort you very much. I didn't know what to call this message. I don't know what we will call it when we put it on line. We'll figure that out later. But I did flashback just reading this passage to the other night.
Abby, who is our nine year old. All of you who are part of the church know my kids, I have a nine year old, 12 year old, 14 year old. But Abby is the most prone to come downstairs in the middle of the night and wake us up because she got scared and she came downstairs the other day and she is trembling about something. Something fell over in the bathroom. And I want quite asleep yet. If I had been totally asleep I would have done the spiritual thing and say, "Tell your mom". True story, but I still wasn't asleep, so I said, "Come here, baby girl", I'm a real good dad. And I said, "Get up on my chest and sit here". I said "What is wrong"? She said, "I'm scared. Something fell over. Something's in the bathroom". I said, "Baby, nothing's in the bathroom. And besides, even if it is, you are here with me now". I said "Feel this". And she gave me a squeeze.
We play this game: the squishy wall, the bricky wall. The squishy wall, the bricky wall. Squishy, squishy, squishy wall. Bricky, bricky, bricky wall. I said, "Feel the bricky wall". She's still crying though, and I said, "There's nothing in your bathroom, and even if there is, you are with me now". She said, "I'm still scared". I love kids. I'm going to call this message for a minute, "I'm still scared". Because, you know, while it is easy to quote scriptures like, "Don't be afraid", let's look at it for a moment and take a perspective, because you know, we are having a hard time even dealing with just a virus right now, but this is not invisible virus, this is horses and chariots that came to get the man of God. This is like, I went to sleep, we were good. I woke up and we were surrounded. I went to sleep, I had a job, I woke up, I didn't. I went to sleep, things were well and I woke up to a different world and he asked him a question.
And it is a reasonable question, this is the man of God. This is the preacher. This is the guy who speaks and God who provides, this is the guy to speaks and God supplies, so he asked the question to the right person, he said, "What do we do"? Watch the answer the man of God gives Elisha. He says, "Don't be afraid". Well that's cute. Appreciate it. Thanks a lot. You know how people give you advice that makes you want to slap them? "Well, the hadn't thought of that". And this is the time for well meaning Christians to shut up a little bit. "You lost your job, God will provide". That is fine in certain context, but, sometimes, and I want you to see how Elisha does this, sometime it is more important what we don't do than what we do do. That didn't come out exactly right. You know what I was trying to say.
Sometime what I won't do in a season where I'm uncertain is even more important than what I could, because let's follow the text. I want to take our time. We don't have another service coming in so we can do this right. "What shall we do"? The prophet said "Don't". Go back to 15, "What shall we do"? The prophet said "Don't". And the man said, "What shall we do"? And the prophet said "Don't". I will ask a question. "What won't you do"? In a time where so many are desperate and we are all kind of fearful and we all feel scared. If you are not scared right now, I'm scared of you. If you are not scared right not, you are some kind of a evil-side robot to destroy the planet, and I want you to quarantined, because to have flesh means to feel fear. So, while he is wondering, "What does this new world that I woke up to mean? And what do we do"? The prophet starts by saying "Don't. Don't".
So, maybe for you it abouts like goes like this right now. I won't lash out the people closes to me, because of the fear that I feel about what's going on outside of me. Maybe it is like that. "What won't you do"? What a question, right? "What do we do"? The first thing you've got to do is decide what you won't do. So, I won't just make irrational stories up in my mind. I won't spend three hours reading conspiracy theories on Twitter and then ask the Lord, "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep". You gave your soul away that way. So, what I won't do is spend time in the hypothetical. What I won't do. What won't you do? I would have been annoy with the prophet. "What do we do? What is the plan, man? Fight them? There are so many of them. It is just me and you". And by this time Elisha is kind of old, "You know, you can't fight. If it is just me versus all of them, what do we do? What is the plan? What do we do? What is the deal"?
"Don't be afraid". They are not working for me right now. How do I do that? How do I don't be afraid? "I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid" - still scared. She said, "I'm still scared. I know you are with me. I'm still scared. There is still something in my bedroom". I'm still nine, I'm weak, I still have bills. I'm still got to show up at the grocery store and work. I still have a relative who's 84 years old, starting to cough I wonder if I will see her again. I'm still scared. So why does he say "Don't be afraid"?
Ok, I want to teach a little bit. It is almost impossible to be strategic when you are scared. And so, the first thing we have to do as people of faith, and I use that term not to mean as optimists or people who believe in fairytales or people who float on cotton candy through the suffering of this world, because we know Jesus. I don't mean that kind of faith. I don't mean formulaic faith. I don't mean the answer kind of faith. I mean the better question kind of faith. "What do we do"? Well, "What do we don't"? We don't give way to despair. What good would that do? I know another thing we don't do - we don't minimize the suffering of others. We don't do that. How about this? We don't compare what somebody else is going through with what we are going through. And we don't start running around saying dumb stuff. We don't get on YouTube and comment how this is God's judgment. We don't speak above things we don't know that is above our pay grade.
It is the judgment of God? What? And somebody's mother died and you want to be some kind a closet theologian, keep your day job. God is God. I'm not going to try to be God, that's he's job. You remember the Holy's story that she preached one time, she told about this boys that were fighting. This is a quarantine story, all right? Those who have real kids who fight sometimes. They were fighting two brothers. If I mess it up you can fix it for me. The mom said "What are you fighting about"? One had a sandwich and would not cut it and half and share it. She said "Y'all need to share. Be like Jesus. Jesus would share". The boy that had the sandwich looked at her and he took a bite and said, "You be Jesus. You can share. I'm going to take a bite".
When my wife preached that message, her message was let God be God. Let God be God. You be Jesus. You be humble. You be trusting. Jesus had a nevertheless attitude towards his relationship with his Father. "I don't want to go to the cross, I don't want to drink this cup, nevertheless not my will but yours be done". You be Jesus. What I won't do in this situation, it is just as important as what I will do. So the Holy Spirit is on that statement right now, reflect on it. "What won't you do"? What we are gonna do? "What won't you do"? I won't live in fear. I may feel fear, but I won't live in it. I may experience sensations of fear, I felt my breath getting short the other day, before I stood up to preach. Somebody said how long were you preaching before you stopped feeling scared. I said "I'm still scared. Every time I preach. I was shaking before I came out here today. I know how to control my shake, so you don't see it, but my hands shake when they were in my pockets".
This is important to me. Somebody is discouraged, depressed, somebody is on the edge, and I get to preach the word? That is important to me. I don't want to be the weak link of what God wants to give to you. I don't want to come out here and miss the Mark of what God wants to say. I'm still scared, but it does not have to stop me. What I'm saying is, not that I won't feel fear, not that I wouldn't have questions, not that I won't sometime in my mind when I'm praying prayers, I'm praying prayers that really don't sound like prayers. I'm praying prayers like "Oh, crap". I'm praying prayers like "Please God". I'm praying prayers, I'm not walking around the house all the time with my hands lifted, but I won't stop worshipping, I won't stop praising. I won't stop. I won't stop. That is what I won't do. I won't back down. I won't give in. I will not surrender. I will not give away my joy, I will not give away my peace.
My peace was purchased with the blood of Christ. It is is too expensive, you can have it. It is too valuable, it is the only treasure I've got. I might be scared but I'm still going to stand on the word of the Lord. I won't bow to your statue Nebuchadnezzar. I won't bow. Put me in a fire if you have to. Tie up my hands and throw me in the furnace, this is Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They said, "The God that we serve is able to deliver us, and we know that he will, but even if". Somebody say, "Even if". Even if he does not, I will not bow. The only thing the fire is going to do is burn off what you tied me up with. God said "I'm setting you free in this season. I'm going to use the fire to set you free. I'm going to set you free from addiction, I'm going to set you free from bad priorities, I'm going to set you free from distractions". So that's what the man said, he said. "Don't be afraid". You can feel fear, it can ride in the car, but it cannot drive.
I can't wait to hear testimonies on this message, because you have been letting that joker drive. You have been letting that crook, that robber, that thief, that devil have your life and your peace and your joy. And so, he said, "Here is what we are not going to do", he said, "Don't be afraid". Now, who says it is just as important as what he said. How many will agree? So, if my 14 says to me, "Don't worry, God's got this". But my mom says it, it has more weight because of who said it. So, Elisha's ministry was a prophetic ministry. It is not about telling the future. It is be seeing. It is about seeing the invisible.
Would you agree with me that one of the lessons God is trying to get us to learn right now, I'm sure there are many lessons that we'll understand, because of what we are going through as a society. But would you agree with me, that one of the lessons he is getting us to learn is that sometimes what we can't see is more important than what we can see? I mean, just even thinking about it, how I stood on the stage last week and preached what was happening on the other side I could see was significant, and at the same time the entire economy is rocking and reeling because of invisible virus. And so the Bible started to get real to me when I thought about, you know, scriptures that used to sound good, but now they make more sense, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against a spiritual wickedness, principalities, rulers". What he is trying to say is like, "What we are fighting we can't see has to first be approach to the level we can see".
God is trying to show us some things today, because watch this, not only that he tell him, "Don't be afraid", and this is not coming from a man who has never had to face fear before. This is coming from a prophet who had to walk into a widow's house. If you wanna do a Bible study this week, you know, if you just get tired of a what is that show that everybody on my staff is watching with the tigers, tiger king. If you get tired of tiger king - I will look for a Netflix sponsorship, check out of this. But, if you get tired of watching that, read 2 kings 4. The same God that said "Don't be afraid" to the servant, when they were surrounded by the army, who came to lock him up for what he could see. He had to walk into a woman's house who said, "I'm about to go into debt, my husband is dead, I have nothing to pay it with. And I have nothing in my house at all, except a little oil".
Now, this prophet Elisha had the ability to see in a little bit, what the woman could no see, because she was looking through a different lens. A lot of us have thought of faith as being this way that we manipulate God, but now we find ourselves in a season, where we cannot control almost anything. We can't control what is open and what is closed. We can't control at some level what happens in foreign markets that affects us at home, what happens if foreign places. In the season of what we cannot control we have to redefine faith. I thought faith was like a lever. Picture this, and like when we pull the lever, "Have faith, give them praise. Give him a praise. When praises go up blessings come down". It's like transaction, all right? It's like "Yes, Lord". Like, "I'm going to pray my kids will make straight a's. I'm going to pray, and my headache will gone away". I'mma pray, pray, but see, faith is not a lever. Faith is a lens. A way of seeing your situation.
And sometimes faith changes the situation, sometimes faith changes the way you see the situation. Sometimes God changes it, sometimes it changes me. The only way I know to stop being afraid is to change what I'm focused on. So I just need us right now to begin to ask the Lord to illuminate, not eliminate. "Oh, God, take the fear away". It does not work like that. "Oh, God, give me all the answers, tell me the plan. I need the strategy". God said, "Before I give you the strategy, I'm going to give you your sight and shine light on the situation".
Lord, shine your light in our hearts. To show us who you are. Not who we thought you were. Show us what it means to belief that you are able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or imagine. Just right now in the chat or in the comments, as a prayer say, "Open my eyes to see, that there is more for me than against me". You are like, "Pastor, that's really cute, but that cliche is not comforting right now. I feel alone". I know you feel alone, but you are not alone. Even if you are alone physically or even if you're trying to provide for a lot of people right now, many people are, I'm right there with you. The scripture says, "If God is for you, who can be against you"? Me and God is greater than anything I face. Us and God the church, we are not alone. Like right now we are together. Right now in this moment we're together, right now we are fighting, worshiping together, spreading the Word of God of the Lord together. Right now.
We have more reasons to trust God than we do to doubt him. Come on. We have more victories behind us than we do reasons to fear in front of us. Do you hear me? We've got more reasons to be grateful right now than we do to be afraid right now. Come on, with a perspective of praise and with wide open eyes and even with lifted hands, let your kids see you worshiping God, let your kids see how you fight your battles. Let your kids see how you get through a storm. Let a generation be whole. We are that generation that will declare the works of the Lord. There are more for us than against us. He is a mighty God. A present help. I prophesy over your life today: you may be scared but that does not stop the presence of the Lord. Thank you, Jesus.