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Steven Furtick - A Lesson In Letting Go

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Steven Furtick - A Lesson In Letting Go

We prophetically declare that the favor of the Lord is upon you and your household. We declare it over not only you but your children, and not just them but your children's children, a thousand generations, the blessing of the Lord. We bless you today in the name of Jesus. We bless you in the name that is above every name. Come on, lift your hands right where you are and receive this blessing. You are blessed in the city, in the field. You are blessed in your coming, your going. You are blessed! You are above and not beneath. You're going to make it because you're blessed. You can smile through the storm because you're blessed.

I just want to minister this to you, because it's not like a greeting card. That is the eternal Word of God we're speaking over your life today. Now receive it. Push all that unbelief to the side, push all of that distraction to the side, and you receive it. Put your bowl of cereal down and receive it. Those frosted flakes are blocking you from receiving the favor of God. Somebody put, "I'd rather have favor than frosted flakes". I'm so excited about it, because right now, as we put the blessing on you… I do this for my kids almost every night, and you can ask them. They're here. Come here, Abbey. Every night. Is that true? Is it true or not that at least five out of seven nights…? Because kids will call you out. You're like, "Every night", and they'll be like, "Not every night". Kids will expose you.

Five out of seven nights we put that blessing on you. We declare that over you. "The Lord bless you and keep you, make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn his face toward you and give you shalom". It's not the kind of peace that means I don't have any problems, because you're going to have problems. Jesus said, "In the world you will have trouble, but take heart; I have overcome the world. Peace I give you, my peace I leave with you, and I do not give as the world gives peace". Since the world didn't give peace, the Dow Jones can't take it away. Since my job didn't give me peace…

Come here, boy. Don't I put that blessing on you every single night? Two things we don't go to bed without: Rick Beato and the blessing. Now y'all get out of here. I've got to preach. That's "Shwiggylish" right there, "Shwiggylish" and "Fufuloosh". Those are their code names. What's your nickname? Do you have a nickname? If you have a nickname, put it in the chat. I also want to say "Happy birthday" to my brother. Today he turns 37 years old. He is about to be a dad, and we're sending love to Matthew Lyles Furtick. His nickname is "Maxwell Murder". I call him that because of Rancid, but that's not in the Bible. Jesus changed names too, but he usually didn't do it after punk rock songs. I call him "Maxwell Murder". Killin' 'em.

So happy birthday to my brother. I would wish you a happy birthday too. Just let me know when it is. I'll get you a gift in the mail. What do you want for your birthday? Hey, I have another question. Are we welcome in your home? This is kind of intrusive. We just showed up in your home. Here we are just all up in your living room, all up in your kitchen. Some of y'all are still in bed. It's kind of close quarters. We're coming up in your bedroom. Unless you welcome us, so if we're welcome… Let's see. I'm seeing some nicknames in here. Some of them look kind of sketchy. I'm not going to say these out loud. This could get out of hand in the chat. Forget I asked that.

Here's the question: After we preach today… Normally, I'd welcome you to church. You're not welcome in the church building right now. Never thought I'd say that. You're not welcome here. You are absolutely not welcome in this church, but we're bringing church to you today, if that's all right. If you make a little space, we want to come in and bring you the Word of God. The grass withers, the flower fades, viruses come, things change, things close, but the Word of God stands forever.

So, if you will open your home and your heart today, what I want to know is: What are we having to eat after I preach? What are you cooking? If you were here in south Charlotte, North Carolina, where I preach from or Moncks Corner, South Carolina, where you saw an awesome outreach segment (shout-out Pastor Shawn Wood and Freedom Church and all of the saints and believers there, the church in Moncks Corner), we would cook you some boiled peanuts, some chicken bog. It wouldn't be low-carb, but it would be a blessing to your intestines. What would you cook if we were coming over?

If Tiffany was coming over, if Dom was coming over with his drum kit and setting up in your living room, what would you cook for us? Pot roast? Eggs sound good. Brats sound good. Steak and bread. Pause it real quick. It's coming fast. I'm getting a little sick to my stomach. I'm eating too much too fast. "Bacon, eggs, hash browns, and pancakes". "Pasta with homemade marinara sauce", Amanda says. Keep going, let's see some more. What else is on the menu? I'm going to decide whose house to come to. Zacchaeus, I'm coming to your house. "Indonesian noodles". That sounds delicious. "Bow-tie pasta". What do you want to eat, Holly? We're getting many invitations. "Cracker Barrel", Holly said is what I have today.

Hey, I'm so glad during quarantine that the Lord gave me a wife who can cook. We've been eating good. Nothing to complain about there. "Barbecue". Now, y'all can't cook barbecue like we can cook barbecue. If you don't have a mustard-base barbecue, I'm not coming. I am not coming. Just forget about it. I don't care how much you love Jesus. If your barbecue isn't mustard-base, your experience with the Holy Spirit is limited. I'm not coming. "Steak tacos". "Ramen noodles. On a budget". Okay. Lord, bless their bank account. They're offering me the cheapest possible food. "Sloppy joes". "Crab salad". Sounds like a delicacy. Go on. We'll just do this all day.

I was going to read the Scripture, but… Is this making you hungry? Well, I don't know what we're going to eat in the physical, but, man, do I have a meal… I have food to eat you know not of! Give us the manna that comes from heaven! God, give us your Word. Feed us until we want no more. In Jesus' name. I'm excited about it. This is part 2 of a series we started last week. Last week was just the appetizer, and here comes the main dish. This new teaching is called Looking Forward to Normal. No, I didn't get it wrong. I know we're supposed to be getting back to normal when they lift the restrictions or let us go back to work or let our kids go back to school so they can actually learn something instead of pretending to learn something while the door is closed, like I'm sure mine are doing.

One of the things that's so important for us is that we learn the lessons of this season in preparation for the next. I don't know about you, but God has really been teaching me some things in this season, and I can't wait to share the next installment today. If you would take your Bible real quick, and if you have a physical copy of the Bible, grab that. The reason I'm saying that is probably you're watching this on your phone, so I don't want you to multitask on the same device. Get your physical copy of God's Word. If you can't, I'm going to put it on the bottom of the screen for you in just a moment, but what I'd really like you to do is to have your own copy so you can underline and write in it. We bless you today, and we speak this word over your life.

You know what's funny about it. I think some people would pay to come to church right now. My oldest son Elijah is a business-minded guy, apparently. He was like, "Dad, I think you could charge for tickets when church starts back". He said, "That might be the new wave". We're not going to do that, but it certainly is a privilege. I feel like it's a privilege to minister to you, and I'm so thankful for it, and I want to make the most of the time. Even when somebody said, "Come on, man; get to the Word…" What else do you have to do? Let's hang out for a minute.

I was actually driving yesterday just to get somewhere, point A to point B (don't worry; I had my hazmat suit on), and people were driving crazier than ever. I was like, "Where are y'all going in such a hurry"? People riding up on me. I'm like, "Where are you going right now? What are you in a hurry for? Unless you are a first responder, slow down. The world is over. You don't have to speed anymore". It's just something about the pace and the patterns, and it's really hard to let go of something you've never known any different than. If you're used to a certain pace or if you're used to a certain set of priorities or you're used to certain principles that you have assumed to be true all of your life, it can be very, very difficult to embrace something new.

Last week, I was saying how when God's people left Egypt in the exodus… And I'm going to pick right up there in Exodus 14, and then I'm going to go right back over to Romans 12. You're like, "That's the same Scriptures as last week". Absolutely. Revelation requires repetition. If it's going to become real in your life… They say in marketing you need to hear it seven times. So, I want to reinforce this message, but actually, I want to give even more context than I did last week. I want to back up to Exodus 14:5. As God's people were coming out of Egypt… Egypt was the place where they went to be fed for a little while, but then they needed to be freed from the place they were fed in.

I think that's a powerful picture. For certain seasons in our lives, certain things meet needs. The process of growing in God is the process of releasing something in order to receive something. While that sounds really cool because I made it all start with the letter R, it is very difficult to do. That's why we really need to walk through this with the Israelites, because we're like, "Come on! Moses led you out of Egypt. Aren't you grateful"? Well, not exactly totally grateful. I'm kind of fearful. Exodus 14:5 gives us some detail. After the people of God have left Egypt… Remember, how many plagues were there, Graham? You had the frogs, the gnats… all of the plagues God used. Remember?

Okay, it's the same number as the commandments. How many commandments? Ten commandments; 10 plagues. God did all of that because he said, "Unless I force Pharaoh to let you go, he won't". Certain changes are not embraced; they must be forced. If you want your muscles to grow, you can't nicely ask them to grow. That has to be forced. The only way you can force a muscle to grow is to bring it to the point of failure so the fibers break down and grow back stronger. I'm going to tell you an illustration of that that I put on Instagram this week, but after I read my Scripture. The Bible says in Exodus 14:5, "When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled (that his entire workforce had left the building), Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds…"

Underline that. They changed their minds about them, because, remember, Pharaoh didn't want to let them go, but then there was one plague, two plagues, three plagues, four plagues, five plagues, six, seven, eight, nine, ten plagues. After the firstborns died, the people of God left. I will point this out. It's not my message, but I will point it out. What represented death to Pharaoh represented freedom to God's people. It was the same event, but Pharaoh's plagues became their freedom. The reason I point that out is I think we have a choice how we view certain things. I think we have a decision which side we live on: to work with God or to work against God, to cooperate with the things he allows in our lives…

Someone may ask, "Well, did God send COVID-19? Did God send coronavirus"? I don't know. You'll have to ask him. I am not God's PR department. They'll always ask preachers, "Where is God in all this, Preacher"? They're confused, because that's not my job. Here's one way it came to me. I don't work in God's PR department where I'm trying to spin stuff, like, "Oh, the Lord sent this" or "The Lord did that". I don't know what the Lord did. He didn't consult me on any of this. If he had, it would be a lot different. He didn't consult you either before you get all high and mighty. I don't think God put you on a Zoom call either to check with you about the last six weeks. Did he? If he did, let me know, because we want to get a message to you to tell him some other stuff we want him to do instead of stuff he's doing right now.

Watch this. Here's the thing I found out. I found out it really doesn't matter who causes it. If it's from God or if it's not from God… I don't really know the difference sometimes. What I know is that whatever happens in our lives, it has to pass through his hands. So whether it came from his hand or whether it was from the Enemy is not the most consequential thing. The most consequential thing is whether I will partner with what God is doing even if it's not what I prefer. Will I resist it or will I push against it or will I go with it?

The Israelites are being set free from Pharaoh, and just about the time freedom is in sight, just about the time it looks like they're going to make it to this land flowing with milk and honey, the land of the Canaanites and Perizzites and Hittites and Jebusites and "cellulites" and all of these enemies we have to fight in this modern… That's a real enemy: the cellulites. Some of y'all are fighting the virus of overeating right now. But listen to what happened when they got there. Pharaoh changed his mind and said, "What have we done"? Listen to verse 5. "We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services"! "So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. He took six hundred of the best chariots…"

The Enemy uses the heaviest artillery on the people who are carrying the greatest purpose. If a lot is coming against you, that means God has put a lot in you. One of the things God is showing us in this season is what he put in us. And do you know how he's doing that? By shutting down everything around us, because sometimes the only way for you to see what is within you is that everything that is not within you… I'll put it like this. When I preach to a crowd, I sometimes get carried by their energy, but when I'm preaching and there are only three people in the room… Something different has to kick in. Sometimes the Lord allows something around us to shut down, to die, so that something within us can come alive.

Pharaoh said, "I changed my mind about letting them go". The message today is called A Lesson in Letting Go. There's so much we're learning right now. We may not know we've learned it until way on the other side of it. You don't really realize life lessons until later. You know that, right? It's later that you say, "Oh, it was good for me that I was afflicted, because this taught me that. Oh, it's good for me that they told me no, because I didn't want to date them anyway. If I would have married them, I would be in therapy right now". A lot of times, it's later that we see the lessons.

Now we can read about Exodus 14. You know, the children of Israel. "Wow. They should have trusted God through the Red Sea. God was going to make a way". It's easy to say that on the other side of it. It's so easy to look back and say, "Well, he made a way where there was no way", but that's when you're looking back. What really takes faith is to look forward at something and to believe he's going to make a way when you can't see it. A lesson in letting go. God told Moses from the beginning that freedom is not going to come easily. Certain freedoms in our lives have to be forced. That sounds bad, but it's true. The only way God sets us free from certain things is he has to take them away.

Sometimes what God allows to be removed from our lives is just as important as what he allows to be brought into our lives, yet this is a season where a lot of us are having to learn to appreciate things. Remember what I said last week? The things you were complaining about in February you would be praising God for in April… all of the annoying people. You just wish you could have a different cast of characters than the four you're stuck inside with. I figured out how much people are saying they're finding a rhythm in quarantine is dependent on how big their house is. It's like, "Oh yeah, man! This is kind of cool". Or how grown their kids are. Or for some people, it's whether they have any human interaction.

So, I've been thinking a little bit about the fact that a lot of times in my life the lesson God is teaching me is to appreciate something. Here's what I want to ask you: What is God teaching you to appreciate in this season? Very simple but maybe worth some reflection. I'm going to wait for you to respond. You say, "Well, God is teaching me to appreciate my livelihood. Honestly, I had gotten so caught up in what I didn't like about my job I forgot the fact that having one is a blessing I can't take for granted". Sometimes the only way God gets us to appreciate something is to allow it to leave for a little while. That doesn't mean this global pandemic is a plague sent by God, but I think God can use it to teach us to appreciate some things. Don't you?

I wish they would let us get back in this church and sing "Rattle". I wish they would. I'm telling you, the first time Elevation Church gets to come back and sing "Rattle" in person… I've been watching y'all online. Y'all are losing your minds online. When we get in a building and sing it, you'd better wear a motorcycle helmet. I wish they would let us get back together. Man, we're going to really have a good time, but you know what? The very same thing we long for today is something we had been living in for so long that God is teaching me to appreciate some things. He's teaching me to appreciate some things I had become so accustomed to, used to. You get used to the things God gives you to the point that you can become used to the people God gives you. You can get used to simple moments. Things that used to be annoying you learn to appreciate.

What is God teaching me to appreciate in this season? Isn't it interesting how all the children of Israel wanted to do was get out of Egypt, get out of Egypt, get out of Egypt? But when they went through the Red Sea into the wilderness, they wanted the food they had in Egypt. It took leaving Egypt to really appreciate it. God was trying to bring them out of it, but there are some things we need to appreciate, and we can only appreciate them in seasons where we don't quite have them in the same form anymore. God is teaching me to appreciate some things. He's revealing things to me that I did not appreciate enough, things I just took for granted, things I just thought would always be this way.

One of the things that's happening in this season for all of us is God is not only teaching us to appreciate certain blessings, but he is resetting the baseline of what we consider a blessing. The Bible says, "Let everything that hath (a new car) praise the Lord". "Let everything that hath (perfect circumstance) praise the Lord". Sorry, it has been a while. Maybe I'm rusty on the Scriptures. "Let everything that hath breath…" That's the new baseline for being grateful. Before God gives us a new blessing, he wants to give us a new baseline. Did you just breathe? Praise him. Are you still here? Praise him. Did he wake you up? Praise him. Did he sustain you? You might not like the taste of manna, but if you have something to eat, praise him. You might not like who you're sitting next to on the couch, but praise him that you have somebody to sit next to.

Grab that hand and squeeze it and say, "If you have a pulse, praise him. If you have breath, if he gave you another day…" Why am I screaming? There's nobody in the room. My new baseline to praise him is just "Thank you for keeping me alive. You're all over me. You kept me in my right mind. I should be going crazy, but you did it anyway". "In view of God's mercy, offer your body as a living sacrifice". I start with the fact that he kept me another day. I start with the fact that he did not owe me real estate today. I start with the fact that the boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places for me. He is my portion. He is my strength. He is my rock. The storm can come, but it can't knock my house down.

A new baseline for praise. Then, he's not only teaching me to appreciate some things and is not only resetting some things, but he's teaching me to release some things. If you are a control freak and you want to stay that way, log off right now. If you are a control freak and you want to stay that way, you'd better search dance videos or cat videos in the YouTube box right now and just get off this stream, because right now I'm coming for every control freak, because I am one. God is homeschooling us right now. God is teaching me some things about release. I promised you I'd give you this illustration, because it comes back to my mind all the time.

Chris has been over to the little workout room we have at the house. I'm so thankful for that little workout room, because I hide there for like six hours a day sometimes right now. I'm not too proud to tell you. That's one of my secrets to survival right now. I'm not even lifting weights half the time. I'm not even lifting weights one-tenth of the time. It makes me feel good to be around some dumbbells, though. Honestly, certain sermon ideas come to me when my body is moving, so I try to incorporate the two. But I had this flashback the other day from when… I guess about three years ago, my elbow started hurting all the time, and Chunks said, "That's called golfer's elbow".

He used to be a physical therapist, so I'm like, "I know you went to school for this crap, but I've never played golf, so you're going to have to explain to me how I got golfer's elbow". I played golf twice in my life with my dad after he had a six-pack of beer, and neither time did we finish the nine holes because it went so badly. "I have never, ever in my life played golf as a grown man, so you explain to me how I have golfer's elbow". Is it golfer's elbow? Yeah. I can never remember. There's tennis elbow and golfer's elbow, and one is one thing and one is the other, but the thing I wanted to say to you was my elbow hurt. I told him my elbow was hurting because I had been lifting too heavy.

Isn't that a man's way of explaining things? "The problem is I've just been lifting too much weights. It's these 95-pound dumbbells. I've just been pushing myself too hard". He said politely, because I pay him, so he has to say this a certain way… He said, "Actually, it's not the amount of weight that caused the injury. It's not how much weight you were lifting; it's how hard you were gripping it". I'm coming for the control freaks. I'm coming for the people who even when you pray for your kids, you're not really praying; you're just giving God a punch list of ways to make them not in his image but yours.

I'm coming for everybody who had a plan for this first part of the year, and now you can't really find your rhythm. You can't find your groove. It's understandable, and it's completely normal. What Chunks told me… This is so powerful, and I'm going to say it way better than he said it, but this is how I heard it. I heard him say, "You could lift a lot more if you will loosen your grip". You can lift a lot more… God said, "If you'll hold it differently, you can handle it". So here's what I'm noticing. If I take it day by day or hour by hour or moment by moment, I'm good. It's only when I get too far out or too far back… Either one is a mistake. I can handle Sunday on Sunday, but I can't handle Saturday on Sunday, and I can't handle Monday on Sunday. This is the day the Lord has made.

Forgetting what is behind… I can't fix that. I have a grip on something behind me, and I can't go toward what God has put in front of me. But I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling. God said, "You can get there if you let go". Let go. Oh man! That preaches so good. Why is it so hard to do? "Let go and let God". "Uh-huh. Are you going to pay my light bill"? "No, but let go and let God". "Well, God didn't offer me a rent check". "I know, brother, but let go and let God". I don't think it's really about letting go of your responsibilities. It's about releasing the things you could never control to begin with. All God is doing in some of our lives in this season is showing us how little control we had to begin with.

"I just can't wait to get back to normal". What do you mean by that? What do you mean by normal? Are you talking about your point of reference? Are you talking about the way things were? Is that what you call normal? The way things were is not necessarily what's normal. The way you were raised is not necessarily what was normal. That's what you know, but that's not necessarily normal. It was not normal for God's people to be beaten and mastered and miserable, but that's what they wanted to go back to. Why? That's what they knew. What a lot of us know is negative thinking, so in a time where we are uncertain, what we have to unlearn is what we've known. I'm glad for everything God teaches me, but one of the greatest lessons I need in this season is not what I need to learn but what I need to unlearn.

What do I need to unlearn? See, we're addicted to information. We're addicted to knowledge. We think, "Oh, I'm going to learn this. I'm going to learn that". We're not all going back to normal at any point. I mean, just try to go outside right now and look at everybody who has a mask and gloves on and tell me that you think in three weeks we're just going to all go back to dapping each other up and hugging each other. You're going to go to hug somebody and they're going to fight you like you pulled a gun on them. We're not going back to normal, at least not for now. So now we have to find balance in between. That's where you have to find the balance: in between. I'm not in Egypt, I'm not in Canaan, and there's something ahead of me that makes me uncertain. This is where we have to unlearn our point of reference that we've called normal.

Now husbands and wives are fighting more than ever before, and some are coming closer. What determines what becomes your new normal in this season is not whether God changes your heart but whether you change your habits. That's what I mean by a new normal. I'm not necessarily sure about when mass gatherings will be back or what the economy will do next. That's not my specialty, but I know that what God is doing in this season is trying to set me free from things I never needed to begin with. I want to say this right to your pessimism: you don't need that anymore. Certain things that were survival skills to you before are a death trap to you now. The only way you die here is if you stay here. So we're looking forward to normal.

Romans 12:1-2. Let's go back there for just a moment. "Therefore, I urge you…" Do you hear Paul? He's like, "Please learn this lesson in this season. Please learn this lesson of letting go". He's talking to the church at Rome. There are Jewish believers, there are Gentile believers, and there's an old sacrificial system. You know, the blood of bulls and goats that took away sin for a little while, but now Jesus Christ, who tore the veil by his sacrifice and paid the price once and for all for sin, who offers mercy freely, is standing before them, and they no longer need to make those old sacrifices. But it's hard to let go of what you've been holding on to for so long, even if it's not working anymore.

It's really hard to let go. It's like, "But this is how we're used to". He's going, "No, I beg you: see it differently. I beg you to let go". It's not normal; it's just old. Just because you're used to it doesn't make it normal. So, after he gets done telling them that there's a new way… That's what he opened by his blood. That's what he opened on the cross. That's what he opened along with his tomb. He opened a new and living way so you could be a living sacrifice. How does that even work? In order for something to be sacrificed it has to die. Right. The old way has to die for the new way to come alive, and that's what Paul is preaching in Romans.

Then comes the verse I really want us to sit with for a moment. In Romans 12:2, Paul gives a didactic or a teaching or a lesson in letting go. He says if you are going to hold on to the old way of doing it… I don't know what that's going to mean to you after I get done preaching this. You will have to reflect on that. I don't know if it's the way you communicate. I don't know if it's something in this season that actually quit working a long time ago… We have like three clocks hanging around our house that haven't told time in years. I don't know why they're still hanging there. It's probably more trouble to take them down. We'd rather have something that doesn't work on the wall than take five minutes and bring it down.

A lot of us are stuck in something that is old. We froze at a point in time where it's like, "Okay, this is what I have to do". For those of us who are used to doing it a certain way, when God brings us a new blessing, it looks like a threat, and we can't receive it because of what we can't release. He said, "I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer yourselves as a living sacrifice—this is your true and proper act of worship". So, verse 2 in that context says, "Do not conform…" Write that word down. "…to the pattern of this world, but be transformed…" Conform; transform.

You don't need me to do this for you, but I'm going to do it anyway. I'm going to write both of those words on a flash card. We're homeschooling. Graham? Present. Abbey? Present. Holly? Present. If you're here, say "Present". Class is in session. All right. I'm going to write this down. Last week, y'all were making fun of my handwriting. Somebody said my R in the word normal looked like a 12, and you're exactly right. The question is if I did it on purpose to illustrate the 12 tribes of Israel. I guess you'll never know.

It's just two ways of looking at it. One is conform and one is transform. I just wanted to write them down. Y'all, please get past my calligraphy and get the point. Okay? This is the right way; this is the wrong way. What makes it right and wrong is this one, conform, is the way the world works: from the outside in. This one, transform, is the way God works: from the inside out. Here's how the Lord was showing me the other day. Remember, there's a lesson in letting go. He said, "In this season, I am teaching you to learn to set your agenda from within, to be guided by the Holy Spirit, to let me fulfill my purpose for your life now that your plans have been interrupted".

This is really hard. One of the things we're having such a difficulty with right now is we haven't even had the funeral for what we expected this year to be, and now you have a preacher up here talking about having faith for what's going to happen next. This causes me to really sympathize with the Israelites. They were leaving Egypt, and they had to rush out in the middle of the night. They had to leave so quickly they never got to say goodbye. You're like, "Well, they didn't want to say goodbye". Of course they did. Even though it was killing them, it was what they knew. What we're dealing with right now is, for a lot of us, our plans got canceled and we didn't even get to say goodbye. Even if it isn't really what we wanted, it's what we knew. When you don't get to say goodbye, you don't get closure.

So now I'm living in this space where I thought I was going to get to walk down the aisle with my daughter and marry her this year. I thought I was going to get to go be at my graduation. I had some momentum in my business. I was working on this deal. I was working on that thing. I was actually getting my act together. I had this and that and the other, and no sooner did the year start until you had to bury it and trust God with it, and we didn't even get to say goodbye. So, this is a challenge of letting go, letting go of something when you don't even know what you're reaching for yet. I mean, if you ask me to let go of broccoli for Breyers, I can do it, because I like what I'm grabbing more than what I'm letting go of, but what if it's a mystery box?

"I don't know about this yet. I don't know. You're talking about a new normal. I don't know about that". Now, we all have moments of both. We all have moments where we're like, "Man, this is actually kind of nice. Everything got cancelled. It's kind of nice. I kind of needed to get a break". Now it's like a forced break on all of humanity. It's like a global snow day… unless you're sick or someone you love is sick or unless something dries up that you were depending on or unless it might.

So we're going back and forth. It's like, "I want to get back to normal, but I kind of want to go into something new". It's like, "Man, I can't wait for everything to get started back again, but it is kind of nice having meals with my family. I wasn't doing that before. I kind of need some job stability, but you know what? I've been wondering if I really even want to work there anyway. I don't know which one. I'm trying to find my balance in between". The lesson of letting go is not only that external events cause us to let go, but the way God changes us is transformation from the inside out. Isn't that really relevant while you're stuck inside, that that's the way God changes things?

The way the world works, from the outside in… "Oh no! What's the job market doing? What's the economy doing? When are they going to lift this, and when are they going to lift that"? The way God does it… You have Paul and Silas, and they are stuck in an inner cell, but when they are stuck in a tight space is the moment they understand "We've got to give God the greatest praise in the tightest space". This is a time for more faith, more hope, more optimism. Your anchor really has to grab hold right now, because you don't know what's next. That's where God lives: in the mystery. Yet our old mind, our conformed mind… "This is the way it's supposed to work".

Is it possible that God is trying to get you to unlearn the way the world works so you can see how he works? What does God want me to unlearn? "I can't handle it anymore". Sure you can if you loosen your grip, if you believe he's with you no matter what the next season looks like. You could bench-press 395. You could lift it if you weren't gripping it so tightly. You could lift it if you weren't gripping it like this. He said, "It's your grip that's hurting you, not the weights". You're actually strong enough. Christ is actually in you. You actually have a new nature. Now you just need a new normal. You have a new heart; you just need new habits. What's in front of you is greater. You just have to let go of some things you know.

I don't want to do it either. I like what I know. That's why I know I'm eating hamburger steak and green beans from Cracker Barrel, because that's all I ever eat. I don't even have to ask what she ordered me. I like what I know. "God, do a new thing, but make it just like what I've known before". So when we get knocked off our balance, that's from the inside. That's how God transforms us. He destabilizes the outside in order to strengthen the core. That's what he's doing in my life right now. He's teaching me to release. If you would just do it physically, you could feel what I'm saying. Get the tightest grip you can right now. I mean, to the point where you feel your blood in your toes cutting off because everything in you is constricted.

That's how your soul feels right now. This is how your mind is. You're closed-minded. Keep the tight grip now. This is an illustrated point. This is an object lesson. Grip it so tight and feel like you can't take it anymore, and now release. That's what's going to happen when you look around at what you have left instead of dwelling on what you've lost. Release. "What do you want me to release, Pastor Steven"? Not the steering wheel. Don't release that. Just release your need to know. Once you release that… Look at how much strength you have. Look at how much praise you have. Come on, do it right there.

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what's ahead. It's not going to be easy. Freedom is not easy. He told Moses it wouldn't be easy. It's not going to be easy. When all you've known is bondage, blessings seem strange. When all we've known is busy, busy, busy, rest feels like something to be resisted. When all we've known is worshiping idols, worshiping the true and living God who lives within feels foreign. But God said, "You have the strength you need if you will release what you can't carry, what you can't control". That's what he's teaching me: the lesson of letting go.

Pharaoh did what we cannot do. He changed his mind. Did you see that in the text? I never saw it in my whole life until just when I was preparing this sermon. I promise you there's a lot more inside of me than what I'm going to say in this one session, so I'm going to keep the teaching going another week after this… at least another week… until you are so free from what you can't control, until you are so free from the fear of what the future holds, until you are able to stand in this moment and bear the weight of your calling because you're shedding everything that doesn't come from him, you're shedding everything that's not productive, you are pruned of everything that doesn't serve a purpose in this season of your life.

Pharaoh said, "I don't want to let them go". Did you see in verse 5? He changed his mind and said, "We have let them go". Do you know what the Lord showed me? It took 10 plagues to get Pharaoh to let God's people go. It wasn't easy. Stuff had to be killed. Stuff had to be eliminated. Water had to turn to blood. God even had to tell the frogs to start croaking. That's how much it took. God even had to bring in the frogs to bring his people into freedom. It wasn't easy. It wasn't easy for Jesus to die for me. He prayed, "If there's any other way, let this cup pass from me". It wasn't easy. Jesus did not purchase my freedom at a low cost. It was free to me, but it was costly for him.

It was not easy for him to set me free, but here's the crazy thing about it. After the people were free from Pharaoh, they wanted to go back. Here's what I realized: it was easier for God to get Pharaoh to let his people go than it was for him to get his people to let Pharaoh go. It was easier for God to get his people out of Egypt than it was for him to get Egypt out of his people. It is easier for God to change your heart, because that happens in a moment. You know the Bible verse. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come". It's not God making your heart new that is hard; it's making your habits new to come into alignment with the new heart he has given you.

God said, "In this season, I want to shatter the patterns that have kept you in prison and set you free in your life to worship me. Not just a three-day journey into the wilderness, not just out of Egypt, not just out of a location, but out of a lifestyle, out of a way of doing things, out of a way of gripping things". In fact, God is trying to set me free from me, the worst master of all… how I overthink, overcompensate. God is trying to set me free from thinking I have to be the center. God is setting me free, yet it was easier… Gnats, frogs… All of that was easy for God. All he had to do was speak it, and it immediately happened. It was easier for God to get Pharaoh to let his people go than it was for him to get Pharaoh… I messed it up.

See, this is so revolutionary for me I can barely even say it to you, because God is just speaking this to me. I've never seen it like this before. You know, he will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. That's external. That's conform. God is going to make him let you go, but what's harder is not God making Pharaoh let you go; it's getting you to let Pharaoh go. It's getting you to release the thing you thought you needed and to say, "If I have God's presence, if I have God's power, if I have his provision, I can stand on his promise, I can stand on his Word. I don't need to pay anybody back. God has got me".

See, if you're used to being bitter, if you're used to getting offended, it is easier for God to forgive you for your offenses than to get you to start forgiving other people of theirs. It is easier for God to tell Pharaoh, "Let my people go" than for God to tell his people, "Let Pharaoh go". Let it go. We have to let it go. I don't mean we can't take moments and feel sad. I don't mean we cannot appreciate certain seasons, but God is teaching me in this season I can't receive what is now when I hold to what is old. So God is setting me free in this season. He's not telling Pharaoh to let me go; he already delivered me. He's not telling sin to let me go; he already delivered me. He's not telling shame to let me go; he already delivered me. He's telling me to let shame go.

Why would I reach back and pull back down off the cross sin that he already died for? Why would I try to purchase something that is already provided? Let it go! "For I know the plans I have for you. You don't know. You don't need to know. I know the exceeding, abundantly, above all you ask or imagine or plan or prophesy. I know the plans I have for you". So I'm not going back to normal. I'm looking forward to freedom. I'm getting set free from petty in this season, stupid stuff I'm not going to worry about so much anymore. God, if you will just let me out of the house, I promise you I will be nicer in Target. It's so crazy how we tell ourselves it's normal, but what if it's just old?

"If anyone is in Christ he's a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come". Now God is trying to give new habits for a new heart. I don't know who needed to hear this today, but it's a lesson in letting go. The only way for them to step into freedom was to completely leave Egypt. I think in our own way, in our own hearts, we kind of have to have a funeral. I'm telling our staff right now, "We are not going back to church as usual any more than we're going back to Best Buy to purchase a cassette tape". We're not going back. I don't know what's next. I don't need to know what's next. All I have to do is follow forward, loosen my grip, and press toward what's next.

I'm pressing toward what's next, and I know the patterns of this world… The way the world works was already weird. The way the world was wired was already weird. If you take the word wired and scramble it you'll get weird. The way the world was wired, the patterns of this world… The way the world is wired is weird. The way the world had gotten before this virus was already sick. We already didn't know what and who was really important. We were already so addicted to celebrity we even turned our government into a reality show. It was already sick. It was already messed up. You want to go back to that? No. God is rewiring the way it works in our hearts.

The way we talk to each other and speak to each other with no civility, how divided we were, how if you like this person then I don't like you and if you support that person… That was already weird. God is bringing us into something that is more normal than normal. What if what God is bringing you into is more normal than what you've known? Would you embrace that? Would you let go of your expectations to receive a new grace, a new win, a fresh filling? Isn't it crazy how for the last couple of years even in our cultural dialogue we talk about cancelling people? Somebody says something we don't like. Canceled. Somebody does something we don't like. Cancelled. Somebody says something that's out of bounds with what we thought. Cancelled, cancelled, cancelled.

Now that everything is cancelled… It's like, "Oh, y'all want to cancel stuff? Now everything is canceled". I can't help but think about Hebrews that says everything that can be shaken will be shaken so that only what can't be shaken will remain. There are certain things that cannot be canceled. There are certain things that will always be true. They've been true all along, but have they become true to you? God wants to give us some new truths to hold to in this season, some new things to believe. It's not that the truth is new. It's just new to you. Limitations are coming off in this season.

Thank you, Lord. If I let go of what was limiting me… Sometimes it's just a belief. Sometimes it's just a way of seeing another. So, Lord, I'm letting go of limitations. I'm letting go of labels. What do I need to let go of? I'll never make it to the other side if I don't let go. I have to let go to move forward. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for your ministry today. It has been so good to receive from you the things that you want to speak. We spend too much time listening to every other voice but yours, and it costs us. You're always speaking over our lives that which is pure, lovely, true, of good report, virtue, and praise. Always speaking. Sometimes we just need our minds changed. God, there are things we want you to change in our world right now. People who are unemployed, we ask you to give them a job. People whose bodies are not functioning properly, we ask you to give them a healing. People who need direction from you or people who need protection from you, give it, God, but while we're at it asking you to change stuff, change us, not just conforming our situation but transforming our minds.

I put my mind on the altar today, the way I think about others, the way I think about the world, the way I think about what's normal. Show me your normal, God. Show me your normal. God, show me your normal. Show me what the garden of Eden was like when they were naked and unafraid. Show me what it's like to not have to hide behind fig leaves. Show me what it means to be made in your image. I thank you for your anointing, God, to bring us into a new normal. Help us let go of Pharaoh, for perhaps we've become our own Pharaoh, keeping ourselves in a mindset you're trying to deliver us from. Give us the miracle of a new mind. Touch the way we think. New normal, new neural pathways, new heart, new habits. Teach us to release, to release that grip on our future, release that grip on our weaknesses, release that grip on controlling other people, release that grip on things we can't control to receive the strength only you give.

Heads bowed, eyes closed in every living room and kitchen, hospital room, prison, everywhere you're watching this right now… in your car. You may want to pull your car over, because I want to pray right now for somebody to become a new creation in Christ. The old has gone; the new has come. Jesus Christ died on the cross to save sinners, to deliver you from the body of death, to give you a hope and a future through his resurrection. Right now, if you want to give your life to Jesus Christ and let go and surrender your own strength, your own trying, and receive his grace, right now in this moment I want to pray with you. Praying out loud right now, eFam all across the world, pray with me for the benefit of someone who is coming to Jesus Christ in this moment. Repeat after me.

Heavenly Father, I am a sinner in need of a Savior, and today I receive your grace. This is my new beginning. I believe Jesus Christ died on the cross to forgive my sin and rose from the dead to give me life. I receive this new life. I am a child of God. I am a new creation.

Now on the count of three, if you just prayed that, I want you to put in the chat, "I receive Jesus". One, two, three! Type it like you're raising your hand. Type it like you're surrendering. Type it like you're receiving a new beginning, like you're breaking out of the past, breaking out of shame, breaking out of the tomb and coming out of the grave! "I receive Jesus". We rejoice! "I receive Jesus". I see it flying across the chat all over the world. Let it fly. New beginnings. Come on. Let it be, God. Amen to the glory of God. Come on. You ought to start clapping your hands if you can. If you can't, jump up and down. If you can't jump up and down, wiggle your pinkie toe. Come on and give God praise for his glorious grace! Thank you, Jesus.

I believe I could go ahead and preach next week right now. God is so good. Look at all of those people receiving Jesus. Look at that. Hey, Elevation church, eFam, it's your giving that makes that possible. It's your prayers that make that possible. That's what God is doing through you. The Devil is a liar. Nothing can stop the church of Jesus Christ. Nothing! Neither height nor depth nor angels nor demons nor the present nor the future nor a virus nor anything else shall be able! Wow!

Listen. I'm looking forward to normal. I don't know what it's going to be, but my faith is trained to see God in crazy situations. You see a Red Sea; I see a highway. You see a wall; I see a ramp. You see a staff; I see a water-parting baton. I dare you to stretch your faith with me. We're moving forward step-by-step. A lesson in letting go. I need you to do me a favor. In just a moment, before we leave this room… Don't log off. I promise you, you can heat it back up in the microwave. Don't log off.

I need you to share this message with somebody if it blessed you. It's going live again. We're broadcasting this message every two or three hours on this day, and if you're watching it later, you can share it from the archive. I have a feeling this message is going to be relevant for a minute. I don't think this is going to expire by next Thursday. So share this with somebody. Just tell them, "Here is a lesson in letting go", and then let them know, "God has got this". Just send it to them and see how God will move. And come back. You know what? Normally I wouldn't tell you to come back because we'd need a seat for you. Guess what? We've got overflow. You can come back and get this again and take your notebook.

She knows she's cooking good when we all go back for seconds. I believe this is a "second helping" kind of sermon. So get back on either now or later. Sit with this word. Digest it. Some of you run off too fast. You just eat all that gumbo and then run off. Don't do it. You'll get a heartburn. Sit with this for a minute. Talk to each other. You know one of the great new normals? You don't have to fight anybody in a parking lot right now to get out of church. You don't have to walk past any hyperactive greeters trying to get you to sign up for an eGroup. Just sit and say, "What do you need to let go of"?

Now listen. If you're doing this with somebody from your family, don't say, "Here's what you need to let go of". Ask a question. Men, get your family for a minute. Say, "Hey, sit down. Quit hitting each other. Put that down. Shut up. Put your phone down. Shut up. Put your phone down… in the name of Jesus. Here's what I need to let go of". Set an example and talk about the Word of God. Let it be on your lips. Dwell on it. Meditate on it. That's how you get free.

Lord, I thank you that your Word went forth with power. I felt it. I felt it surging through the screen, touching situations, touching mindsets, and recreating routines. Thank you for the new paradigm you're bringing us into. The premises of this world are broken and limited, but your Word lives forever. Thank you for it. I know it will not return void. In Jesus' name, amen.

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