Steven Furtick - God Won't Let It Go To Waste
It may take our whole lives before we make sense of certain things, but it is not wasted. I'm preaching this to somebody. I have somebody on my mind right now. Your life was not wasted. Before you were formed in the womb, God knew you, and God knew what would happen to you. God knew what would not come to pass that you planned on, and he knows the plans he has for you. What you've been calling wasted, God sees as a stage. Can I take it a little bit deeper? One prophet said to the king, "The eyes of the Lord are going to and fro, all over the earth, searching to show himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are fully committed to him".
Let's work backward. Your heart is fully committed to God. That's the space you've given him. How much space have you given God to work in your life or do you keep secret corners for yourself? "God, I'm going to trust you with this much but not that much. God, I'm going to give you this part but not that part. God, I'm going to let you in here, but I'm going to fake it over here. God, I'm going to go this far, but if this happens, I'm going to start pulling back". Isaiah said, "Don't hold back, because the part of your heart you don't give God becomes enemy-held territory". That's where doubt takes over, and that's where fear takes over, and that's why you can't seem to get your mind straight: because you gave God's territory to your enemy, but today we came to take it back. "Here's my heart, Lord".
He wants to show himself strong for those whose hearts are committed. Strong. God wants to give you a strong heart. God said, "The space in your life where you don't know what I'm going to do next…that's the flex space". I found out God loves to show off. God likes to take a nine-foot giant down through a 5'3" little boy. Why? The differential between the size of my giant and the size of me is God's flex space. God said, "I'm coming into your situation. I'm breaking through like I'm strong and mighty. The Lord is my name".
I know we're not supposed to flex in church, but let's flex on the Devil real quick in the name of the Lord. Come on, I'm not backing down from any giant! I'm not backing down from uncertainty! I'm not walking away from my promises! Flex space. There are going to be times in your life where you feel weak, but guess what Paul said. "When I am weak, he is strong". So guess what your weakness is. What is it? What kind of space? You mean my weakness isn't wasted? No. It's not wasted space; it's flex space. God inhabits the praises of his people! Let's take 20 seconds and praise him that 2020 is not wasted; it's a setup! Flex space.
You have to stop acting like you're so perfect so God can have some flex space. He can't be strong while you're pretending to be. You need to come before God and say, "I need you like I needed that breath. I need you, God". This is not the time to hold back, Isaiah said. He said, "Strengthen your stakes. Lengthen your cords". Strengthen and stretch. It's no good to have strong faith if it's not flexible faith. If you have strong faith but your confidence is in circumstances, what are you going to do when they throw Paul in prison? Say the word from two weeks ago: apokaradokia. Don't even try on Dictionary.com. It's a Greek word, and it's not even a real Greek word. Paul made it up.
Look at this Scripture from Philippians 1:20. This is the fourth week of a series. Y'all thought the series was over, but it's not. This is the flex space. This is the extra bonus sermon. I don't even know if I'll stop this week, because I feel God is doing… Every time we expose our old normal to God's kingdom order, our hearts grow, our faith grows. Don't you feel it? God is growing your heart. God is growing your capacity to trust him, but he needed an uncertain place, like Paul needed a prison. So, Paul is in prison, and you know the church is praying, "Get him out. Get him out. Get him out". "Take it away. Take it away. Take it away". Everybody is always praying about that. Circumstantial prayers. I found it interesting that Paul decided to multipurpose his prison cell and turn it into a pulpit.
He said in Philippians 1:20, "I know that no matter what happens to me circumstantially, what is within me can withstand. I know this from my experience, and I know this from my revelation. So I eagerly expect…" He says, "I eagerly expect…" Apokaradokia. Apo means to turn away, ignoring other interests. That's the prefix. Kara means head. We could use this to understand Paul is not talking about a physical situation, because when he says "Apokaradokia…" Dokia means to stretch forward. I know Paul never met Isaiah, but it's almost like they collaborated on these two Scriptures. Paul is doing for the gospel in prison what Isaiah was prophesying to the nation in Babylon. He's stretching. Do you know why all of the planners are having heart palpitations right now? It's like this season we've been in is punishing the planners. The procrastinators are loving quarantine. It's like, "Yeah, let's go! I'm suffering for the Lord". You're not suffering for the Lord. You're eating ice cream and loving it. You haven't been out of your pajamas in four days, even watching this church. You are loving it.
We talk a lot about Paul's faith. "Oh man, he went through a shipwreck". He wasn't trying to get in a shipwreck, but he was flexible enough to know that "Even if the boat breaks, I won't drown". We admire people with strong faith, people who set a goal and reach it, who have a vision and make it happen, but I found out that the people whose faith is the strongest, it's strong because they stretched it. He said, "It's flex space". The 70 years is flex space. Your life is a breath. It's flex space. God is trying to take your life and show the world what he can do through a heart that is committed to him. He wants to show himself strong. He said, "Strengthen your stakes and stretch your cords". As you stretch your cords, you're strengthening your stakes, because your faith can never be in a circumstance; it must be in the character of Christ revealed in you. This is flex space. It's not wasted.
Paul said, "I eagerly expect…" Apokaradokia is the Greek word. "…and hope that I will in no way be ashamed". Do you know what happens in our lives? This is what Isaiah was saying. He was saying, "You need to keep expanding your expectation". Expand your expectation to include what you did not plan for. God is going to work in everything by the time this is over. After 70 years are completed, God is going to work it all in. This is what it means to say that all things work together. It is to say, "God, here is the space I don't understand". Let me get really personal. What is that space for you today? You've already turned your living room into a church. You're halfway there. Some of you already turned your hospital room into a sanctuary. You're halfway there. It's flex space.
Do you get the picture? You didn't know this would be church, but it is. You didn't know God was going to show up in your living room, but he did. You didn't know God was going to use this trial in your life to make your faith strong, but he is. It's flex space. In my weakness, he is strong. In my uncertainty, my faith grows. It's flex space. Don't you feel it getting stronger? Blessed are the flexible, for their faith cannot be broken. That's a beatitude I just made up. Blessed are the flexible. "God, I didn't think it would look this way. God, I thought I'd be married by now. God, I thought my marriage would be different. God, I thought I was going on a honeymoon to Europe. God, I didn't know my backyard was going to be my vacation this summer". It's flex space. God is about to show off.
Watch this. I learned this from Lazarus. When he doesn't show up when you want him, it's because he's going to show off when he comes. It's flex space. Four days dead. Roll the stone away! Open the grave! I'm coming out! I need some flex space. He inhabits the praises of his people. Would you give him praise right where you are? Thank you, Jesus, that Paul turned a prison into a pulpit. It's a flex space. That Babylon became a testing ground for faith. It's flex space. In this season, I'm not shrinking up because of shame; I'm stretching forth by faith. Strength is in the stretch. Don't tell me how strong your faith is because you imagined something and it happened just like you imagined it. Tell me how strong your faith is when it happened exactly the opposite of the way you saw it going. But you didn't let the Devil take over your imagination. You still stretched forward your faith (apokaradokia) to a greater day, a brighter horizon, a higher hope.
How many have hope today? How many have an eager expectation of faith? So, God said, "I'm about to show off in the situation, in the space you make for me". Have you made space for him? God can only fill what we bring him. Or is your mind still so crowded with the expectations you had that God can't bless you with the blessing he wants to bring? I feel God filling somebody's heart right now. Your heart is his flex space. Don't let the Devil have God's territory. Are you crazy? Isaiah said, "You will dispossess nations". That means you have to kick him out. That means you have to eliminate the Enemy to reclaim your imagination. "Get out of here. This is God's space. This is flex space. You can't have it, Devil. You can't have my song. You can't have my hope. I'm turning away from other interests (apo) and I'm stretching my head (kara dokia) in the direction of faith".