Steven Furtick - How To Have An Honest Talk With God
A lot of us never accomplish our mission because we will not be honest about our motives. So we'll say what we think we should want, and that's why we never get anywhere in prayer, and why we never get anywhere in self-awareness, and this is why we never get past the same cycle of trying to satisfy our needs, because we will not even be honest with God about what we want. So I pray and I ask God to do the things that I think I should want him to do, but by bypassing my motives, I do not engage my heart, my emotions, and my will.
Jesus asked a question, "What is it you want"? "Um, okay, uh, God, um, hallowed by thy name, bless the missionaries". Missionaries? That's really what's on your mind? No, I just, that's what you're supposed to pray for, right? The missionaries? Uh, what else? "The Middle East, pray for the Middle East, God". Really? That's the first thing you want to talk to God about? Because I went crazy last year, so I had to start talking to God for real because I had some stuff that was going on inside me for real, so some of my prayers got shorter. Like, "Help me right now before I do something that I can't undo"!
Now, I know the God some of us grew up with can't handle the reality of who you are. But the God of the Bible became flesh and dwelt among us! And he does not despise your weakness. In fact, the scripture says that we have a High Priest who is not unable to be touched by the feeling of our infirmity. That means you can come into God's presence and he can handle the full weight of what you're really dealing with. God, I'm tired. God, I'm sick of this. God, I need help, I did it again. God, I'm shaking right now I'm so mad. And if you don't tell him, it's going to come out somewhere else anyway.
So you might as well tell Jesus. This is why behavior modification programs do not produce sustainable longterm change in our life. That's why we need grace as an operating system, because Jesus will look straight at you and say, "What do you want"? So I can pray about my weight? Yeah! So I can pray about my bills? Yeah! So I can pray and ask God why all these other women are getting married and they're not even going to be good wives and I'm still single? Yeah! What do you want? But see, if you don't understand you're his child, if you don't understand that you are a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, which is not earned but it is given, which is not achieved but it is received.
See, the kingdoms of the world are based on arrival. The kingdom of God, Jesus mentioned it over 100 times, the kingdom of heaven, he says in Matthew, it says it in Matthew that way because it was for a Jewish audience and they didn't want to mention the name of God, so they said the kingdom of the heavens or the kingdom of heaven. But it's also translated in the other Gospel accounts, but it hadn't been said before Jesus came on the scene. He started preaching, "Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand".
The idea of God as king was not a new thing, but the revelation of God as a king who came like a baby was. And rather than coming like an earthly king, he snuck into the earth on one silent night. Silent night, it wasn't a silent night. Baby Jesus was screaming his head off. And he came like that, he came like that, in human form, human frailty, to show us the kingdom of God. He could have come like Thor, he could have come like Dwayne Johnson, but he came as a carpenter. And he started recruiting disciples. And they wanted to take him over to the seminary, the cemetery, I mean seminary to get his candidates for who he would choose to use to build this kingdom, to establish the throne of God so that the kingdoms of this world would become the kingdom of our God. To establish that, the Bible says that he chose, and I want to show you this real quick so we can get a deeper picture of what happens in Matthew 20. Because what happens in Matthew 20 has happened to all of us at one time or another.
But before we look at that, look with me for just a moment at… Mark 3:13, Jesus, this is when he called his disciples. And there was a phrase that touched me, I want you to look for it as I read it. "Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. They appointed twelve, designating them apostles, that they might be with him", that they might be with him. The kingdoms of this world identify you by what you do. But before he called them to do for him, he called them to be with him. He called me to be with him.
Wow! That's not the phrase, I just pointed that out. But that touched me. He wanted them to be with him and that he might send them out to preach, to influence the world. Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the ends of the earth. Waxhaw, Melbourne, Toronto. Yeah, the whole thing is started with these guys, twelve of them. You know some of their names, you know what they did. They had authority, look at verse 15, "And to have authority". You know, it's very different, the difference between getting attention and having authority.
So in a worldly kingdom it's all about getting attention. We call someone an influencer if they can get attention. So you buy something by clicking on a link through their account. That's what the world calls an influencer because they can get attention. But attention is not the same thing as authority. Authority is when you know who you are, you know whose you are, you know what you've got, and you're okay with what you're not because he called me. That's what I like about it. He called to him, go back to verse 13, those he wanted. Isn't that cool? He called those he wanted. So if I understand that correctly, that means that God does not order anything that he doesn't desire. That means if he put me somewhere, he picked me for where he put me. That means if he gave me an assignment to do...
Now, sometimes we have to pick people to do stuff because we don't have any better options. Not God. God has options. He called who he wanted. He could have made any sperm fertilize any egg so that you would have been born in a different time. He could have made any conception process happen so that your children would have been born to different parents. But he called who he wanted. The revelation of my life was to believe that God wanted Steven Furtick to do what he gave Steven Furtick to do. I didn't know I was chosen.
Let's do the math on this real quick. The first four, we'll read the names and then we'll talk about it. "These are the twelve he appointed", verse 16, "Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), James son of Zebedee and his brother John". That's the two dudes that are represented in Matthew 20. But he called those he wanted. "And to them he gave the name", let me try to say it right, "Boanerges". Boanerges. Holly asked me, because I grew up in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, "Why do call everybody Bo"? It's a southern thing. Did you all do that in Valdosta? They didn't call anybody Bo in Miami, but it was like a Moncks Corner thing. We give nicknames, just call each other nicknames, you know?
Jesus did that. He would nickname people. And he called Simon Peter, petros, rock. He gave these brothers, the sons of Zebedee, the only thing we know about their family, other than that they had a kind of pushy mother. Talk about a helicopter parent, you know what I'm saying? She brought her sons to Jesus, these are grown men. And their father, Zebedee, was a fisherman. And Jesus, when he was starting his ministry and inaugurating his kingdom, the kingdom of God, showing the invisible kingdom in a visible way, he chose and appointed and called to him those he wanted. And through all the options that he had, he chose twelve.
And two of the twelve that he called were called, Jacob is the Hebrew name, but we translate it James and John. John, you would probably know more about because he was the one who stayed at the cross. He called himself the disciple that Jesus loved. So he did not struggle in the self-esteem department. But what you might not know about him is that he had a nickname called Boanerges, which means sons of thunder. Which is a weak translation. The Hebrew term actually means like tremble. It's not thunder, it's like disturbed. It's like hot-tempered.
So Jesus called those he wanted, and what he wanted was two brothers that when he looked at them he named them sons of disturbing rumbling thunder. Y'all come help me change the world. Now, I'm going to give you 20 seconds to thank God in your own way that he chooses who he wants to choose, and he doesn't consult people. Take 20 seconds and praise God that he did not ask your enemies. That he did not even ask your parents. That he will not consult your failure to see what he does through your future. When God calls you, he wants you. 20 seconds, 15 seconds, 10 seconds, 5 seconds to praise God that he called you to be with him! I'm just really glad that he called me by name, and he knew what was in me when he called me.
So he called these twelve, right? And all their other names are there too, but we're not talking about all the other names. We're talking about James and John. Out of all the fishermen in the region where Jesus was launching his ministry, he chose Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Andrew even got left out. Because within the twelve, now let's stop and do this real quick. I think everybody wants to feel special and unique, right? Okay. Everybody wants a participation trophy every now and then. Everybody wants to feel every once in a while like, "I matter to those who matter to me".
And the feeling that you don't can make you crazy. The feeling that nobody would even notice if I was gone. The feeling that somebody better could probably do it. The feeling that everybody else has something that I don't have and I'm really like, I'm really faking confidence to cover insecurity. We're going to be real in this series because the kingdom of God deals with the internal first. And when he called them, there was something in them. One time James and John, they were going through Samaria and the people of Samaria rejected Jesus. And they took it personally, the sons of thunder, Boenerges. Yeah.
James and John asked Jesus, "Do you want us to call down fire from heaven on them, Lord"? Jesus is just like, "Yikes! No! That's the wrong kingdom"! But at least they had passion. At least they had passion. And he called them and he put their passion in a position where they were able to see and do amazing things. Out of all the fishermen that he could have used, he chose them. And he named them when he saw them because he knew what was in them more than they did. I just got to thinking about that, man, like out of all the fishermen, these brothers got chosen to be in the twelve.
And check this out, within the twelve disciples there was a special group called the three, Peter, James, and John. Poor Andrew. He brought Peter to Jesus, then stepped out of the way. Because the kingdom of God is not about attention or recognition. Some of the things that God uses you to do, you will be invisible while you're doing them. Some of you, the greatest thing that you are going to do in your life is encourage someone else. But we don't know this any more because we don't know the difference between greatness and fame.
But let me say something, everybody famous isn't great. And everybody great isn't famous. There are some great people in this church who don't have a Twitter account. There are some great people in this church who will never hold a press conference or release an album. There are some great people in this church who don't have to wear brands to show what they can wear because they know who they are. There are some great people in this church and you may never recognize them, but when they show up hell takes notice because they have a kingdom authority. Can I preach this series? High five somebody and say, "God will make me great"! God will make me great! I might not win a Grammy, but my name is registered in heaven! My name is written in the Lamb's book of life! I might not have a name you know, but I know a name that is above every name!