Steven Furtick - God Uses Distance
So, if God feels distant to you right now, you're not alone. All of us, even in our strongest moments, have this place in us where it's like, "God, I wish I had a sign right now. I just feel uneasy. I don't feel at rest". That's all completely human and completely normal. Sometimes God uses distance in our feelings to call us deeper in our faith. I thought it was important to say that right now, because while we're having to keep physical distance, I believe God is calling us to spiritual depth.
See, I don't want to just get through it. I'm tired of just getting through it. What's the point? Let's just all go to heaven right now if all we're going to do is get through it. They have a harp with my name on it up there. Come on. I sing like Zeke in heaven. Just let me get to heaven and get my glorified vocal cords. Let me get my eternal larynx in heaven and just go ahead and glorify the Lord with the… No, no, no. "God, don't just get me through it. Teach me". There's something about distance.
Graham asked, "Why did God do all of the miracles back then but he doesn't now"? It's not that God does fewer miracles; it's just we see them better in the distance. It's like, "God, why won't you do a miracle?" while you're watching me preach on your phone. This is a miracle… right now, in this moment. Take a breath. It's a miracle. Think about all the sin he canceled. We're talking about everything that was canceled. I'll tell you what was canceled: the record of wrong that stood against me that he nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more. So it is well with my soul. I looked at my portfolio for finances. It wasn't well. But then I looked at my soul, and I found out he's still with me and he's in me and there's some kind of hope that comes rising up to the surface.
When God feels distant, he isn't. He's positioning you for a miracle. Do you know what's really cool about the ark? It was called the ark of the testimony, the ark of Yahweh, and the ark of the covenant. That's really cool, because in a time when they were going through something they'd never been through before… You hear me. Are you going through something you've never been through before? We all are. We're all going through it. Be nice. We're all going through it. Think about it before you post. We're all going through it. We are all going through it in different ways. Maybe God is going to make you a miracle for somebody else. Have you thought about that? In moments where we're going through places we've never been through before, it feels like God is distant. He isn't. He's showing us what can't be canceled. He's shutting down everything right now.
They are shutting down everything right now. I'm waiting on Holly to close the kitchen. I hope she doesn't cancel the kitchen, but I don't know. Every time I turn around… I'm waiting to turn on my phone and it's canceled. Instagram told me to stay home. Everything is being canceled. Isn't it so cool that as God is bringing them across the Jordan, the ark of the covenant… That's what it's called: the covenant. That's not your agreement with God; that's God's agreement with you. Let's be honest. If it was dependent on the first one, if it was dependent on you, you wouldn't make it through. If it was dependent on me to have perfect faith, I wouldn't make it through, but I'm so grateful that when I'm going through what I can't understand, what I've never been through before, God gives me something to look at that represents what cannot be taken away: his oath, his covenant, his blood.
Watch this. "Support me in the whelming flood". That's the old hymn from the Methodist Church. Do you know what I found myself doing the other day? I found myself breaking out the ark, the old stuff, the old hymns. I started quoting hymns around my house the other day. Some of us are going through a new thing, so we need to break out the old stuff. You have not prayed in three months. You might want to pray a little bit right now. You have not been very grateful lately. Now would be a good time to bless the Lord. Now would be a good time for Martin Luther to come to Elevation Church. "A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark…" What? A bulwark? You haven't talked about bulwarks in a long time. I need a bulwark right now. I'm fighting a big Devil. I need a mighty fortress. I need a safe place. I need a shelter. God is with me.
Verse 5: "Joshua told the people, 'Consecrate yourselves…'" Watch this verse. This is the whole thing. Y'all thought I was preaching? I wasn't preaching yet. This is the sermon. "Consecrate yourselves…" That's your part. Not isolation…consecration. It's just all in how you look at it. I wonder what God is preparing us for right now. I wonder what he is mending, like he mended Peter's nets after he stopped fishing. In those moments, God is mending. I wonder what he's mending in our hearts in this moment when we just stop for a minute to be still and know he is God. He'll be exalted above the heavens. The horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. All the old stuff comes back.
See, here it comes. It's the convergence of what God has done, what he will do, but it's all found in his presence. "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you". Do you see how clear that is? In that verse, God has a job and you have a job. Do you see that word tomorrow? That's on God's job description. Do you see it in the Scripture? Put it in the chat. I need you to say this. "Tomorrow is God's job". So, here's what we have to do: we have to trust God with tomorrow's problems and embrace today's process. "Consecrate yourselves". That's today's process. That's cleansing. That's setting apart. That's knowing he is God. That's devotion. That's this. That's like, "I'm not going to stop coming to church just because I can't physically get there. In fact, I'm going to use this time… I'm going to start sharing the gospel more with people. I'm going to make the Devil so mad he's going to have to let me out of the house. I'm going to start forwarding every clip, every sermon, every song".
We put this song out the other day called "The Blessing", and the reason we put it out is because God gave us this song, and I don't know how to stop the virus, but I know how to spread the blessing. So, I have a job; God has a job. What is God's job? God's job is tomorrow. That's like when I went to Australia the first time. Is anybody watching from Australia right now? Yeah, I see you lighting up the comments. I see you, Cheryl, Eric, Brandon. I see you from the Ukraine. Tomorrow is God's job. But here's what's awesome: somebody is watching in Australia, and it's already tomorrow.
The first time I went to Australia to preach, I got off the plane, because I was stupid, and went straight to the stage to preach, but before I went to the stage, I landed at like 10:00 a.m., and then I was preaching at 12:00 p.m., so I just had time to take a shower. Just before I started to head over to the arena where I was preaching in Sydney, I FaceTimed the kids. This was years ago, so the kids were really little. I FaceTimed them because my room had this beautiful view. Pastor Phil Pringle put me up in this beautiful room, and I could see the Sydney harbor, and I wanted the kids to see it. The sun was shining so pretty over the harbor, and I took a FaceTime.
I said, "Hey, kids, I just wanted to say hey to you from tomorrow". I was telling them how we were across the international date line. I was telling them, "Well, it's tomorrow in Australia, but it's nighttime there". Remember, they were really little. Holly was tucking them into bed, and they're all gathered around the FaceTime and everything. I think Abbey was already asleep. She was really little. And then Graham and Elijah, and we talked for a minute. I said, "I've got to go preach now", and Elijah interrupted me and said, "Hey, Dad, before you go, will you tell us what happens tomorrow"? It was like he had this moment. "You're already there. You're my father".
See, I have to let God be in my tomorrow and consecrate myself today. That's all I can do. I cannot predict the path. All I can do is walk in it. Yet the beauty of the passage is this: if you will consecrate yourself today, God is already in your tomorrow. So all this "How long is it going to last"? That's God's job. You know what? I thank God for everybody who is helping in a practical way around the clock to bring remedies and solutions to our nation for this virus. We are praying for you. We celebrate you. We love you.
One of the good things that's going to come out of this is we are going to appreciate people we used to think were unimportant who are going to be the very people God uses to stop the virus. It's not going to be just celebrities who we've always been used to celebrating; it's going to be people who are standing on the front lines, like those priests did. God told the priests, "You go stand in the middle of the Jordan". That must have been scary. God was bringing them through. God is going to bring us through. It's so important that we don't get so focused on getting through it we don't get what God wants us to get out of it. When God says, "Stop". He makes me lie down. God is my guide.
He told them to camp before crossing over, and then, if you can go all the way to verse 15, I want to show you one more thing. Is this word helping you? If it's helping you, just put something on the screen right now. Put a heart. Put a purple heart. Put an orange heart. Put a red heart. Put three pink hearts. I'll take anything right now. This is the message God gave me. I was going to approach it the other way. I was going to say we're positioned for a miracle, but I thought, "You know what? If I call it that, people are going to think it has to be something big. They're going to think, 'Oh, when this virus is gone, that's a miracle'". What about the miracle in the middle of it? That's what my attention was drawn to.
Before I go, I want to show you Joshua 3:15. When God says "Stop". The Bible says, "The Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest". Well, that's a sermon right there. God didn't bring them through some shallow water, some little problem. The size of the problem creates the opportunity. When I say we're positioned for a miracle, it doesn't mean the problem gets smaller. When I say we're positioned for a miracle, it doesn't always mean God is going to do something we see as really big. Sometimes we have to see it from a distance.
Can you imagine having to follow that little ark? The ark of the covenant. God keeps his covenant. We have to remember that right now. If he said it, it's sure. If he promised it, it's rock solid. God promised me the grace for today and the hope for tomorrow, so I have to let him do his job. What that means is I can't wait for something to be over in my life. "I need to know what they are going to…" We all want to know, but we've never been here before. God is with me not just to get me through it; he's my God. He's with me in it. That's the message. That's why it's called the ark of his presence. Consecrate yourself today. Be present. God is calling us to greater presence, not less.
Hey, be careful that you don't sit there and go like, "Oh, I'm so connected". Connection is about depth, not about breadth. In this moment, I believe God wants to connect with us in a deep way and do a deep work in our lives. He will do amazing things among you, things you don't even know to ask for. Ephesians 3:20. God, give them a miracle. There's a mom right now who needs a miracle. There's someone who can't get to their mom or dad. They're not able to be with them physically. They need a miracle from you. Give it to them. But not when it's over…while I'm in it. There's a miracle in it. The Bible says, "The Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest". There was no way they could have crossed it on their own. "Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, the water upstream stopped flowing".
When God said, "Stop", the water was cut off. Do you see it? When God said, "Stop", the Jordan River had to obey him. When Jesus said, "Stop", the storm had to cease, but before he stopped what was happening outside the boat, he had to stop what was happening inside their hearts. I believe God is saying, "Stop" today to the terrorist of anxiety that has been ruining your imagination and interrupting your rest. It said as soon as their feet touched, the water from upstream stopped flowing. When God said, "Stop", the water that was in front of them, the thing that was keeping them separated, stopped flowing and piled up in a heap a great distance away.
I love the Word of God. It's in the distance. God is going to keep it at a distance. God is going to get you through this, and he is using distance right now as a gift to call us closer to himself. Do you see it? It's the revelation right there in the text. It stopped flowing opposite Jericho. Thank you for your Word, Lord. Verse 17: "The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground…" Get set, because we're going to worship in a minute. We don't worship when we get through hard things; we worship while we're in them. "…and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground".
Oh yeah. We're going to get through this. That's not the question. The question is… Why did the priests stop in the middle? See, God had told Joshua something very important that he has been speaking to me. It's not just that you get through it; it's that you take something from it. When the priests stopped, God said, "Stop"! right in the middle. Stop right now and say, "This is the day the Lord has made". We can't take things for granted anymore, y'all. This morning is a miracle. His mercies are a miracle. We can't take it for granted anymore. So God says, "Stop in the middle of it". Stop projecting, and stop living in what it was and worrying about what it will be. Stop right here in the middle. They each took out a stone, and they carried it to the other side.
I declare over your life today… I want you to receive this right now. I don't care if you're watching this with five other people and three of them are eating pancakes and one of them is on their phone. This word is for you. It's for you. God is saying, "Stop". There has been a spirit of fear that has been washing over you. It has been keeping you from your peace. It has been robbing you of your joy. You've been living in a fictional tomorrow, and right now God says, "Stop". Make the decision, "I'm going to trust God in it. I'm not going to miss the miracle of today because I'm living in tomorrow".