Steven Furtick - How To Shift Your Focus By Faith
Everybody say, "Shift happens"! I want to walk you through it, it picks up in verse 18. The Bible has put in these verses for us, but originally there weren't verses breaking up the different letters. It's just there so we can find it. But sometimes it jumps in at a weird place, and I think that happens in verse 18. Paul says, "But what does it matter"? That's a phrase you should use as well. "What does it matter"? Y'all pray for me that I would get better at that, because I take little things really seriously. Holly laughed when I made that point. That's a good sign. He says, "You know what matters? The important thing, the priority, is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. That's what mattes to me. So everything that serves that purpose is fine with me, whether I like it or not in the moment. That's what matters to me".
What matters to you? Because what matters to you will determine the direction you point your life in. What matters to you? That's your destination. Paul says, "What matters to me is that Christ is preached, and that's happening, so whatever they're saying about me, that's fine". "The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice". This next phrase to me should be a different verse. They put it right in the same verse. When Paul makes his next statement, he goes into a completely different mode. He goes in a different zone.
What I want to show you is the next skill Paul teaches us. This is not the skill of interpretation. This is the skill of anticipation. He shifts and he says, "Now that I've given you my interpretation of what has happened, let me give you my anticipation of what will happen". On one level, Paul says, "I don't know. They might kill me. I might live. I'm not sure about that part". I want you to notice the frame of mind and the state of consciousness Paul engages over these 10 verses, starting with 18b, where he said, "Yes, and I will continue to rejoice". He uses the word will. He's shifting now. "I've spent enough time talking to you about what happened. That's over. Can't control it. Can't do anything about it. I've acknowledged it. I've interpreted it. That's that. Now I'm moving forward. Now I want to tell you what will happen".
I want us to do an exercise on every campus. This is for those of you at Butler High School, our Matthews Campus, temporarily homeless. This is for our Uptown location. This is for Weddington. This is for University City. This is for Lake Norman. This is even for those in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Toronto, Canada, who had record attendance last weekend. I want all of you, whether you're good at math or not, to count with me the number of times the word will is used in these 10 verses that start in verse 18. There's the first one. You already got it, so put your hand up. It's one. He said, "I will continue to rejoice". Next verse. "For I know…" He's confident about this. "…that through your prayers and God's provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death".
I don't know what, but I know why. "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I'm torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ…" "I wouldn't have to put up with anything anymore. It would be a lot better if I was in heaven". "But it's more necessary that I remain in the body for you. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress…" Maybe sometimes our life is meant to be more about somebody else's progress than our own. Let's keep counting. I just wanted to point that out, because I was talking about progress, and I wanted you to know sometimes it's not all about you.
"So that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me. Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one Spirit". Now only about three of you counted with me through the whole time, but if you counted 10, you counted right. Ten verses and 10 times. He doesn't say has; he says will. He doesn't say maybe; he says will. Why? Because he has an eager expectation. Did you see it in verse 20? This is what we need. He said, "I eagerly expect and hope".
I was interested to learn that in Greek eagerly expect and hope are not verbs but nouns, and they're joined together by the word kai in Greek, which means and. They have within them the idea… This is where I really need you to focus, because I flunked Greek in college, and then I took it again in seminary, and I passed with a C-plus. I'm only telling you that for full disclosure to let you know that I don't typically walk around my house quoting Greek, but when I saw this in the text it was worth bringing out, because when Paul says, "I eagerly expect", he uses a word (here's what's crazy) that has never been used before. He made up his own word to describe the kind of hope you have to have to survive in a situation where there seems to be no way out.
Paul said, "This is the kind of hope that there is no vocabulary for". Paul had to take three words and put them together to make a new word to describe the kind of hope that can make you look at your kid on drugs and your husband acting crazy and your money low and your emotions a wreck and say, "I still have an expectation, and I still have a hope". He looks through his vocabulary, and he goes, "I can't even think of how to tell you how I feel about it right now. There's no word, so I'm going to make one up". He makes up this word. I'm going to give it to you right now, and you're going to use it this week. The word in Greek is made up of three words. Let's say it together on the count of three. One, two, three! "Apokaradokia".
All right, we're going to need some remedial classes. Apo kara dokia. Apokara. Apokaradokia. Apo means to turn away with concentration, ignoring other interests. That's the prefix. You know Paul is good, because I could preach a whole sermon just on his prefix, apo. He said, "I'm in a situation right now when if I look to my left, I see prison walls. If I look to my right, I see prison walls. If I look to my feet, I see a prisoner's chains, so I have to turn my head intentionally from what's over here and what's over here". Sometimes you have to turn your head from what's here and what's here and what's here.
So he said, "I turn my head on purpose, ignoring what I could be focused on". Kara means head. This doesn't require much explanation. It literally means head. Dokia. It's a company that was originally founded in Sweden that sells ready-to-assemble home furniture and appliances and accessories. Dokia originally means to stretch forward. When you put it together, you get this meaning. I'm going to teach this to you, and we are going to break it out on whatever situation comes up in your life this week that tries to break your focus or steal your faith. You need a little bit of apokaradokia, which means stretching the head forward. He said, "I'm in a prison cell right now, and I can't move".
I wish I was a better preacher. If I was a better preacher, you'd get excited about apokaradokia. He said, "I can't move my feet. I can't move my body, but I'm stretching my head forward toward the future. I will rejoice, because I'm stretching my head forward". Here's the problem. With a lot of people, we have our heads so far up our past we can't see our future, but God brought you to church today to get your head out of your past and give you a little apokaradokia faith, an eager expectation. I'm stretching my head toward what's next. I'm not stuck in what was. I'm not worried about what's going to be. I'm stretching my head toward Monday. I'm stretching my head toward next year. I'm stretching my head toward retirement. I'm stretching my head toward fullness. I'm stretching my head toward healing. I'm stretching my head toward my mission.
Let's practice. Jump up on your feet. This is a series called Functional Faith. Shove your neighbor and tell them, "Stretch your head". If you're going to be fit, you have to stretch. If you're going to have faith, you have to stretch. If you don't stretch, you might break. So let's stretch. Come on. Let's stretch our hamstrings first of all. I know how to stretch my hamstrings. (That's about as far down as I'm willing to go in this tight suit to demonstrate it to you. Bad things, man. Bad things.) I know how to stretch my hamstrings. I know how to stretch my back. I know how to stretch my body, but nobody teaches us how to stretch our head. Apokaradokia. There is a brighter day. Apokaradokia. It does make a difference. Apokaradokia. God is working in my situation. Come on, say it. Apokaradokia.
Tell the Devil what you have. Tell him, "Devil, look at that apokaradokia! The next time you run up on me with discouragement, you need to know I'm turning my head and I'm stretching my neck. I'm about to open up a can of apokaradokia on the Devil"! Come on, this is better than Brazilian jiu-jitsu. This is better than taekwondo. This is going to teach you how to stick your neck out. I have good news for you. Paul said, "It doesn't matter if they kill me or they let me live, because this is not a situational interpretation. This is not a situational anticipation".
I feel like preaching this. I'm done teaching now. I'm in full-on preaching mode. On the count of three, when I say three, I want you to start with your head to the right. When I say three, I want you to turn your head. It's symbolic of all of the distractions that aren't going to distract you this week and all of the cynicism you're not even going to pay any attention to this week. I want you to turn your head. I want you to give them an apo on three. This is your apo. One, two, three. Turn it! You missed it. Wasn't quick enough. Turn your head to the left. Come on, we have to practice. I am your spiritual trainer. I'm trying to teach you what to do when life gets tough and I'm not here for you and you're looking to the right and you're looking to the left. On the count of three, I want you to jerk your head forward and give yourself whiplash. One, two, three, apo! Do it again. Head to the right.
Are you looking at that person trying to see what they think of you? Looking at that situation trying to see how it's going to turn out? Well, on the count of three, we have some apo for the Devil. On the count of three, turn your head and shout apo. One, two, three! That's the first step. Now we need the dokia. Now we need that thing where you stretch your neck like a giraffe, where you look forward to your future and smile at it, where you look forward to problems and difficulties and say, "I have something for you called the Spirit of God. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain". What's Paul saying? He's saying, "Either way this turns out, I'm coming out ahead". He said, "I don't know what's going to happen next, but I'm headed in the right direction".
Somebody shout! I'm not there yet, but I'm headed in the right direction. I have my focus on. I have my brave on. I have my courage on. I have my hope on. I have my faith on. Get your hands out of your pocket. When I say three, I want you to stretch your neck toward your future. One, two, three. Stretch! You missed it. Let's do it on every campus. Come on! On the count of three, stretch your head. Apokaradokia. Tell the Devil, "I'm coming toward my future". One, two, three! Again! One, two, three! One, two, three, apo! One, two, three, kara! One, two, three, dokia! One, two, three!
You got it! Clap like you got it. Stomp like you got it. Rejoice like you got it. I will continue to rejoice, for to me… I feel good about it. To live is Christ, to die is gain, and I'm coming out ahead. One, two, three! One, two, three! That's your new cadence this week. You're not going into this week thinking about what happened when you were 13. I have something for regret. It's called apokaradokia. I turn my head from that. If I think about that too long I get depressed. If I think about that too long I start getting bitter. If I look over here I might get jealous. If I look over there I might get discouraged. I have to stretch my head toward my future in faith. I will rejoice.