Steven Furtick - Make Room For The New
Wow. Don't stop at the comma. That boy was preaching on a punctuation mark. How 'bout it. I had a first-time thing. I was stomping the Devil's head on the stage last week. It was at the 9:30. I was icing my heel between the 9:30 and the 11:30. I stomped him too hard and he bit me or something. My heel was bruised all week. Somebody said, "Welcome to your 40s. You're going to start getting all kinds of stupid injuries". What a way to get injured, huh? Stomping the Devil's head for the glory of God. I've gotten hurt a lot stupider ways than that. It's hilarious. It's hilarious to me. It was funny to me. I used to get hurt punching walls and stuff out of anger. I'd rather get hurt anointed.
Anyway, the Bible says, "He will bruise your heel, but you will crush his head". That's a Scripture verse. Y'all aren't ready for this. I want to tell you something that happened to me last summer. I have a friend who lives in another country, Ken Costa. He's originally from South Africa. He resides now in London, England. He travels the world. He comes to see me once a year. He just turned 70. He's a good man. He has a book out called Joseph of Arimathea. Free plug for my friend, because he gave me the Scripture I want to use to frame our message. Not necessarily to preach the Scripture but to frame the message. I figured I owed him a book plug, so check it out on Amazon. Ken Costa, Joseph of Arimathea.
Now that that's out of the way… When he comes to see me, he will usually bring three or four Scriptures, and we'll read the Scriptures together. He jots them down. This is the paper he brought me in July when he came to see me after my family break this summer. He brought me these Scriptures, and we sat on the porch and looked at the Scriptures. The first one was Exodus 14:14, and we read it together, and he said, "That's the wrong one". So we moved on. He gave me Joshua 3:4, Isaiah 42:16, and then Leviticus 26:10. I probably shouldn't admit this, but I normally skip Leviticus on the Bible reading plans. It's not my go-to book to fight discouragement. But we looked at it, and we read it together.
The Lord says, "You will still be eating last year's harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new". We read that together, and I said, "Well, what does it mean"? He said, "I don't know". I put it in my Bible, and a few weeks ago, it fell out of my Bible on a Friday night. I started looking at it again, and I texted it over to Bishop T.D. Jakes. I said, "What does it mean"? He said, "Oh, that's a good one", and he preached about it, and that was good. The phrase I want to use is where it says "…make room for the new". The Lord told me to tell you today, "Make room for the new".
This is a word from the Lord for somebody who is in this room or at one of our campuses. Come on, let's thank God for all of our locations, from Lake Norman all the way to Matthews. We are spanning South Charlotte with the gospel of Jesus Christ and beyond…Melbourne, Florida; University City. You wouldn't believe it. Raleigh, North Carolina, is even joining us. Make Room for the New. This is a word for you: make room for the new. You know, I'm getting into old stuff now. I have about 80 records upstairs in my office at my house and a turntable. Vinyl. Something about getting up and having to only listen to three songs at a time is preferable to having every song in the history of the universe on my phone at my fingertips.
For some reason, I would rather listen through a scratchy analog representation of the music than a digital recreation of the music that fits in my pocket. I think there's something comforting about something you used to touch and hold. Old, you know. I used to like something and be attracted to it if it was new, but now I like old stuff. I like old songs. I like Smashing Pumpkins. I don't need any of this new stuff. I like the old stuff. The hymns I used to yawn through in church are the ones I now write songs around as a grown man. A lot of things come full circle in your life that you don't appreciate at the time, but the challenge is now to hold on to the old to the exclusion of receiving the new.
When I shared with you last week, we were given a picture of Peter who was having to fight against the traditions and the customs of the well-meaning circumcised believers. One thing it is difficult for us to appreciate about this community is that they were receiving from God an entirely new system by which to relate to him. Imagine that at one point you had to atone for your sins with the blood of bulls and goats, and now, instead of shedding the blood of an animal, you were trusting in the blood of Christ. That's a very difficult thing to apprehend when you had something tactile, something you could touch, and now you have to believe something by faith. The paradigm of justification… We call it justification by faith, but it's actually justification by grace through faith.
See, it's not how much faith you have that saves you; it's how much grace God has that saves you. If it was about how much faith I had, I would be going to heaven one five-minute period and I would be bound for the same hell as a serial killer in the next five. I don't always have that much faith. Sometimes high; sometimes low. Depending on whether you catch me at 9:00 a.m. and I've had my coffee or whether you catch me after one of my kids said something disrespectful, I might have a lot of faith or a little bit of faith. The point is not how much faith I have; it's who I have my faith in.
This Bible says, "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast". Think about this. God's people had always related to God through a covenant that was based on works, that was based on keeping the law. Now, all of a sudden, in the passage I shared last week, not only are they learning to relate to God by faith, which is the hardest thing in the world to just take it by faith. We talk a good game when it comes to faith. We say we're trusting in the Lord with all of our heart and leaning not on our own understanding, but it still creates a tension, which is, "How much should I trust God, and how much should I try myself"? This tension is written into the very script. The nascent days of the church were filled with this kind of tension.
So the community, God's people, are now learning to relate to God in a brand-new way. Just about the time they're getting used to this paradigm of grace, here come the Gentiles, who were the ones they were supposed to stay away from, and the point guard of the New Testament all-star team, Peter, is going and eating with these people who are contagious. I use that word for a reason. When I told you that they wouldn't associate with Gentiles, you're like, "Well, that's wrong".
It's easy to recognize a truth when you're not living in the tension of it. It's easy for us to look back on certain issues of racial segregation now and say, "Why in the world?" but when you're living in the tension of it, you can lose sight of the truth. In the tension of the New Testament church, there's not only grace versus works but there's this exclusive idea that God is blessing a select group of people. Now get this tension with me. They have to try to figure out how to protect what they've been entrusted with at the same time that they don't hold it too tightly. Every parent can relate to this. How do I protect my kids while not putting my kids in some sort of bubble where they won't be prepared for the real world?
I'm thinking this about Abbey right now. She's probably going to be pretty. She's already a pretty 9-year-old. She's probably going to be a pretty 13-year-old. Then there's probably going to be some 13-year-old boy who wants to come up and talk to her about something. How am I supposed to let her out of her room and trust a 13-year-old boy when I've been one? How will I do that? I don't know. But what I do know is this. Are you ready? This is the first thing I've said that you will probably want to write down today, but hopefully not the last. Your tolerance for tension determines your potential for growth.
We don't like tension when it comes to Christianity. "God said it. I believe it. That settles it. Let me tell you right now, brother, it doesn't matter if you believe it or not. God said it. That settles it. You can just take the middle of it right there out. If God said it, that settles it". Wait a minute. To sit with the tension of what God actually said as opposed to the tradition of what we heard God say through the filter of personal preference and prejudice is the gift of tension. If you hire a trainer at Planet Fitness… I don't even know if you can do that at Planet Fitness, but if you hire a trainer at the gym, they are going to, at some point, teach you about the gift of tension for the building of muscle.
If you hire a trainer and they do not employ tension in the training regimen, you should fire the trainer, because time under tension is the formula for growth. When it comes to our movies, we love tension. When it comes to our television entertainment, Netflix-binging content, we love tension. I don't want to watch a show about somebody who had a good day. I want to watch a show about somebody who ended up on drugs and had to fight a whole gang single-handedly and almost died in the process and got a divorce and went bankrupt. But what makes for a good TV show is the kind of stuff we try to pray away from our lives. So I started the year praying something really weird.
I said, "God, increase the quality of my problems. Lord, I want higher quality problems in 2020". The reason I prayed that is because I tried asking him in previous years, "Take my problems away". That was an ineffective prayer. He did not seem too interested in answering that prayer to take my problems away. In fact, it seems as if some of the things that came into my life in one season as a problem, some of the things that came into my life as opposition, were the things God used to create opportunities for me to know him and make him known. What's crazy about Leviticus 26:10 is it can be interpreted as either a blessing or an inconvenience.
The Scripture said if you live in alignment with God and in agreement with his covenant… This is the old covenant, which was by works. Remember, they had to conditionally receive the favor of God through certain behaviors in community. So as Moses is giving them all of this law, they've been out of Egypt only for a very short time. They've constructed a tabernacle, which is a space where they can meet with God, and he says in verse 9, "I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you". Old covenant, the covenant that was established through obedience and works. It was still grace, but it was grace measured out through behavior. So then, when he gets to verse 10, he says, "If you will keep your end of the covenant, then you will still be eating last year's harvest when you have to move it out to make room for the new".
I'm so glad I am not under that contract anymore. I really am. I don't want God to give me what I deserve. I don't want God to be fair to me. I don't want God to relate to me on the basis of how much I prayed last week. I really don't. I don't want him to treat me according to what my lifestyle would merit. I think most of us in this church understand that this is the old covenant, but it's the same community. They have progressed from a point where they were wandering in the wilderness until we get to Acts, chapter 11, and now they are becoming a church.
In that setup, I want to go back into Acts, chapter 11, and read the story to you again. Or as we said last week, the whole story. You never really know the whole story. That's why you have to keep living. That's why you have to keep praying. That's why you have to keep believing. That's why you have to keep trusting. That's why you have to keep swinging: because you don't know the whole story. That's why you can't kill your kids. They might grow up and pay for your retirement or something like that, because you don't know the whole story. That's why you can't judge anything too soon. You're going to see this in the Scripture right here. In the midst of great tension, a great truth was shown. Make room for the new.
Verse 1 says, "The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God". The gospel is spreading. I guess you could say grace is going viral. It's just out of control. You can't stop it. It's all over the place. They didn't like that, because they are in the tension of trying to protect the old. When you are protecting the old, what's new looks like a threat. When I asked my dad one time, "Are you threatening me?" he said something. I'm sure you've heard this before. He said, "It's not a threat; it's a promise". I was like, "Oh". He was 6'2". I was like, "Got it. I'm good. No further questions". It's not a threat; it's a promise. He said that. It's not a threat; it's a blessing.
They were threatened by the blessing, because they did not recognize it and it did not remind them of what they were used to in their religious routine. Are you threatened by your very own blessings? So, they are being blessed. The church is growing. That's exactly what they want. Sometimes God can be giving you exactly what you want, but the tension it takes to produce the growth is super uncomfortable. We don't like tension in our Christianity. "Rapture me, Jesus, and get me out of here". In the meantime, you need to pay your taxes and change your oil and do all the stuff just in case he doesn't get you out of it. You need to learn how to bring God into it.
So, as the message is going to the Gentiles… They're not the Jewish people; they're the Gentiles. That's all of us who do not have a Jewish ancestry. We're like these people, and they didn't want to let them into church. So next time you don't want to let somebody into church because something about them offends you, just remember that by that standard you wouldn't be here either. "…the circumcised believers criticized him". It is a criticism that is birthed out of ignorance. They said, "'You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.' Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story: 'I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was'". "I saw something being let down from heaven, and it came down to where I was".
When I read that, the Lord said to me, "I'm going to bring it to you". When you are positioning yourself according to the peace and the purpose of God, and when you are present in the situation where he has placed you… God said, "All of the other things people run after, I'm going to bring it to you". If you want in on this word, shout, "God is going to bring it to me"! Come on, tell the person next to you, "I don't have to chase it, stress about it, cheat to get it, violate my morality or my ethics. God is going to bring it to me". This is the covenant of grace.
Watch this. I tried to get to God. I couldn't, so he ripped open heaven, stepped down to come inside of me, so that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us. No, I cannot achieve his holiness, but God is going to bring it to me. Heaven is going to come to my house. Heaven is going to come to my mind. Peace is going to come to my marriage. God is going to bring it to me. I want to shut the whole sermon down for a minute and give God praise by faith that he's going to bring it to me. What you need, he's got it. God is going to bring it to me.
When I praise him, blessings come down. God is going to bring it to me. I don't have to beg him; God is going to bring it. Peter wasn't looking for a vision for his life. God brought it to him. All he did was go to Joppa. Can we talk about Joppa for a minute? I thought about calling this message "The Joppa-tunity of a Lifetime", but that was corny. I scratched that one out real quick. You can have it.
That's not a good title for a message. But it got me that he was in Joppa, because I was like, "Hmm. Joppa. Joppa, Joppa, Joppa, Joppa, Joppa. Joppa is a port city. I know that. They put the timber there. They would take the timber, and the timber came there when they built Solomon's temple. I think they brought the timber from Lebanon to Joppa because it's on the Mediterranean coast. They brought timber there, and then they sent it to build the temple. Oh, maybe Joppa is something where God takes the raw materials. Joppa. No, that's not it. Joppa, Joppa, Joppa, Joppa".
Why does it say over and over again he was in Joppa? Go to Acts 10:1. It says it a couple of times. Remember, Peter got in trouble. He didn't have to go looking for trouble; trouble came looking for him. Peter wasn't looking for controversy. He wasn't looking for conflict. He wasn't looking for problems. He was in Joppa because there was a woman in the church at Joppa who was very important to the believers there. He was in Lydda raising people from the dead. You know, just the stuff you do.
When he was in the middle of this crazy revival in Lydda, which wasn't too far from Joppa, this amazing eKidz volunteer died. Her Greek name was Dorcas. Her name was also Tabitha. They asked Peter if he would come to comfort them. He got there, and he saw how important she was to all of them in Joppa. He started looking at all of the clothes she sewed for widows. She had a ministry to the poor. She cared about people. She served on the parking team. She cared about people. She worked on production at Raleigh-Durham. They hated to lose Dorcas. Peter got kind of bored. He was a man of action. So he's like, "This is cool taking a tour of everything she did, but y'all leave the room".
Check out this Scripture real quick. I know I said Acts 10, but I want to go back to Acts 9. I want to give you the whole story. We know what happened when he got to Joppa. How did he get there? It's important. He went to Joppa to visit Dorcas. Acts 9:40: "Peter sent them all out of the room…" She has been washed and placed for burial in the upper room, and as they're memorializing her: "…he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, 'Tabitha, get up.'" Peter is like, "We can have a funeral or we can have a resurrection".
Peter was bold. He tried it like Jesus one time. Jesus did this same exact thing, but it was with a little girl. This little girl was dead, and Jesus sent everybody out of the room, because he knew if they stayed in the room, their doubt might make it impossible for faith to really do what faith can do when it is unencumbered by doubt. What's the title of this message? Make Room for the New. When Jesus sent them all out, he said something in Aramaic: "Talitha koum"! It means, "Little girl, get up".
Now watch Peter imitating his Master. He sent them all out of the room and turned toward the woman and said, "Tabitha, get up". It's almost like "Talitha". It's just one letter different. He thought something. "If Jesus did it and if his Spirit lives in me…" I came with a message for somebody. Make room for resurrection. Make room for things in your life that you were just about ready to bury to breathe again. "Tabitha, get up". And she did. "She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up". Well, I guess so. She sat up, and he stayed in Joppa a little while, and they liked him. He was very popular in Joppa.
Peter could have run for mayor of Joppa, because he demonstrated great power in Joppa. Joppa. It's a place where you don't expect anything great to happen but something does. Joppa is like your job. Job-ba. Joppa. He was just doing his job, just going to see it, and a miracle happened. He was just going to see it and going to comfort them and going to do what he did, and a miracle happened. Joppa: the place where God puts stuff together. Why he was in Joppa. Joppa. It's kind of familiar. Who else went to Joppa in the Bible? I was trying to remember.
I was talking to the interns this weekend. I put them on the spot. We had such a good time. I said, "Who else went to Joppa"? They went through every character in the Bible, guessing: Zacchaeus, Bartimaeus, Luke, Matthew, John. I was like, "No, no, no, no". It's somebody in the Bible. I'm going to give you a hint. It involves a fish. Rhymes with corona. Jonah went to Joppa. Watch what he did in Joppa. Are you ready? Jonah 1:3 says, "Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed to Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port".
God called him to Nineveh, but he resisted it. He resisted going to Nineveh because those were not the people he expected God to bless. He resisted what he did not understand. He resisted what he could not conceptualize. He resisted what he had no frame of reference for. He went down to Joppa and boarded a ship heading away from the Lord. So now I have a contrast, and I want to ask: What will you do in Joppa? Will you be like Peter who when he got to Joppa and God sent him an opportunity to say, "Peter, I want you to make room for something new. I want you to believe that I can break a barrier in your life. I want you to believe that I'm about to do something your mind has not conceived".
Will you be like Peter who went with it or are you going to be like Jonah who ran from it? Peter went to Joppa, and while he was in Joppa praying, he saw something amazing that he didn't expect. He looked, and he saw a sheet from the four corners, representing the four corners of the earth. God is like, "I'm about to break all of your barriers. I'm about to break through your unbelief".
See, we talk about making room for the new. You want to go have a yard sale, or something like that, or put everything on… It's not about closet space. It's not about clearing out your closet; it's about the transformation of your mind. Do you have room for the new in your mind? Because they didn't. Peter didn't. When God showed Peter what he was about to do… This is the way it always is. When God shows us something, we compare it to our previous point of reference, and then we start consulting our resources. God wants to bring us new relationships, but if you're not ready for new people in your life, you will bring the same patterns to the new relationships that you brought to the old relationships. We literally keep people out of our lives God wants to send because we are holding on to the hurts from the ones who have already left.
I feel the Spirit of God breaking barriers as I preach right now. You're like, "What does this message have to do with me? I'm not getting on an airplane and going to preach to somebody in Caesarea like Peter did". You don't have to. All you have to do is dare to believe that God is making room for the new in your life right now. Even sometimes when it was painful for me and I thought I was losing things in my life, I wasn't losing it; God was moving it. Who is this for? I just need to know. Probably about 20 people. You didn't lose it; God moved it. He said, "You will still be eating last year's harvest when you have to move it out". Somebody shout, "Move it out, God"! "Anything that is in the way of me being who I need to be in this season… Get it out of my heart. Get it out of my mind. Get it out of my habits. You can have it, God. I don't want it. I want what you have".
You can't receive new miracles with old mindsets. Make room for the new. It looks like this: emptying yourself, humbling yourself, and asking God, "What do you want to do in my Joppa"? Or you can run from it and resist it. You can keep remembering when the kids were so cute. They are 43 now. They stopped being cute quite a while ago. The church was trying to figure out, "How do we protect what we loved while we embrace what is new"? I don't know. I think there are at least three lessons in this text. Do you all have a minute? Make room for the new. First, God says: Don't limit yourself by labels.
The first thing God told Peter… He said, "You have your nice little neat categories". Because when the sheet came down, Peter saw all kinds of animals. Y'all need to know, in this culture, they respected visions. This was not like Peter's hallucination. You know how some people now are so weird and are like, "Well, the Lord showed me a vision of us walking on the beach". It's like, "Bro, you need to ask her out and stop trying to embed it in this weird spirituality". Peter actually saw something, but remember, there's sometimes a tension between what you thought God showed you… It's a tension, and that tension is a real gift, because that's where growth happens. It's like, "God, I thought I was going to be married to her the rest of my life, but I'm not. We're not married now".
That's painful, but what you do with it becomes your Joppa, which determines if you run from God's purpose for your future or run toward it. That's Joppa. The word God gave me was "Don't limit it with a label". The first thing he told Peter… Peter said in Acts 11:6, "I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds". Then after he saw the pigs in a blanket, he said, "Then I heard a voice telling me, 'Get up, Peter. Kill and eat'".
Now when I read that, I said, "God was trying to get Peter to go hunting"? No. It wasn't about the animals. He was about to send Cornelius, who Peter saw as an unclean Gentile. So he was using this… It wasn't about bacon; it was about barriers, mental barriers. When he said, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat", it wasn't that God wanted Peter to kill a pig; it was that he was trying to kill Peter's categories. In this season of your life, God is trying to kill your categories. He's going to use people you did not even like to grow you up and mature you.
There was one person the other day who shared a Bible verse with one of my kids, and they left our church years ago. They didn't even like me when they left, but when they gave a Bible verse to my kids, I said, "God, I don't care who hands them the Scriptures. I'll take a cold cup of water in the pit of hell from anybody. I don't care who hands it to them. Use who you want to use, God. Do what you want to do. Kill my categories". As a matter of fact, when we say, "All things work together for the good", what we mean when we quote Romans 8:28 out of context… Romans 8:28 is connected and conjoined, incidentally, to Romans 8:29, which says, "…according to his purpose". So what it means by good is it's going to fulfill his purpose, not my preference. What it means is I can't categorize. That's God's job. It is God's job to know what's best for me. It is God's job to know what needs to happen. It is God's job to know what experiences I need to get.
So God said, "Stop limiting it by labels". Labels can apply to a group of people. Look at what the Lord said. When he said, "Arise, Peter. Kill and eat", Peter said, "Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth". Now watch what God said in verse 9: "Those are your categories, not mine". "The voice spoke from heaven a second time, saying, 'Do not call anything impure that God has made clean'". Stop limiting God with your labels.
Most people who live in Charlotte weren't born in Charlotte. So you come here, and it's like, "I don't really like Southerners". Well, you're stuck with us for this season. Do not overgeneralize the people you have to live with. The same thing can be said of any group of people…northern or southern or anything we want to mention. This is the problem: we are all so prejudiced we stopped realizing it a long time ago. You're like, "I'm not prejudiced". Pre-judge. You do it all the time. I do it all the time. We think we know what is and what isn't going to be good all the time. We even think we know who is holy and who is not holy by what they wear. Even with people, we think we know who is important and who is not. You have no idea. Then we size up opportunities by how public they are to see how significant they are, but Peter was in Joppa doing something that was off the radar when God led him to Cornelius' house to take the gospel to the Gentiles.
I just wanted to say: Don't limit your life by labels. Don't limit what God can do through you through labels. Somebody says, "Are you single"? Say, "Well, first of all, I'm saved, sanctified, and then I'm single. But don't put that as my first label. There's a whole lot more to me than what's going on on one finger on my left hand, so please do not limit me". "Preach, Pastor Steven Furtick". I am. One guy said to me, "Your preaching has gotten more Pentecostal these days". All he meant was I yell more, and the only reason I yell more now than I used to is because when the church was small I needed people and I didn't want to scare them off.
Now we have enough. If we scare a few off, a few more will come. I can holler like I want to! I can preach like I feel it! Not theologically…stylistically. So, don't be limited by labels. I'm white, but I'm not only white. I'm black, but I'm not only black. Please do not pre-judge me based on something I had no control over. I want you to get to know my character. I want you to get to see the God in me rather than labeling me. Ask Lil Nas X. Ask him about labels. Is it country? Is it rap? I'll tell you what it is. It's a billion streams. It's a Grammy, and it's multimillion dollars. You can take me right out of this box and drive me to the bank. God wants to do something bigger, but you will limit yourself with a label, and you limit others with labels…who you can and can't receive from, who God can and can't use in your life, what God can and can't use in your life.
"Oh, well, they're insulting me". Are they or is God using them to instruct you? "I don't like it. It doesn't feel good". So don't limit yourself with labels, and secondly, don't be loyal to a lie. I don't have time to show you, but the passage in Acts ends with Peter and the council there, the deacon board that called him in… That's a Baptist flashback I was having right there. When they called him in, by the end of it… I said this on Sunday last week: it started with protest and ended in praise. When they brought him in they were protesting, like we always do when God is doing something new in our lives. "I don't like it. I don't like it".
Now, everybody who hears new will hear something different when I preach. People will quit their jobs over this message. People will quit their marriage over this message. Some will quit their job and their marriage over this message, and they're missing the point. What I mean is make room for the new in you, so you don't have to find out after you move to five different cities, running from yourself, that sometimes the environment is not the issue. What we will do a lot of times is we will hold on so tightly to a lie because it's familiar that we will miss what God is bringing to us by faith because we don't like how it feels. Don't be loyal to a lie. My third one is: don't be late.
One thing the Spirit told Peter that I wanted to say to you through the power of the Holy Spirit today… Acts 11:12 says, "The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them". Don't be late. If you hold on to what's old…the way you thought and what you wanted and how it was…you might miss today's miracle trying to hold on to yesterday's blessing. What am I holding that's old, that's keeping me from receiving what's new, what's now? I don't mean that we don't value tradition and experience and continuity. That's not my message. The Scripture said in Leviticus 26:10, "You will still be eating last year's harvest…" That's the old. "…when you will have to move it out to make room for the new".
It's not that the old was bad; it's just that the new is here…a new covenant, a new day, a new season. Some of you are really destabilized right now in life. We all go through these seasons of instability that really test our faith. God gives us this tension in these moments to see what we will do in Joppa: run from God or run toward God. If that's where you are today in Joppa (I mean in a psychological sense, obviously, or a spiritual sense, an emotional sense, not a geographical sense), trying to figure out, "God, what are you doing in my life? I've never seen this before. I've never felt this before. I've never been in my 40s before".
I wonder what you will do in Joppa. The thing about God's blessing is it rarely checks your schedule to see if this would be a convenient time. In fact, Leviticus said as they were giving all of the instructions for worship and the covenant to set up the community and how to deal with diseases and poverty and how to deal with indebtedness and how to be a people, and as they were adjusting and acclimating to be out of Egyptian slavery and coming into a new place… Before God made them the promise, he said, "You need to know you're still going to be eating last year's harvest when you have to move it out to make room for the new".
This is how it works. You're not even used to it yet, and here comes something new. You have to learn to multitask your miracles. You have to learn to move between things and to trust God and keep giving, keep going. You keep trusting and keep believing by faith or else you're going to find yourself missing today's opportunity because you are too attached to yesterday's blessing. I wonder what new mindset God is creating in me in this season. I want to know. I wonder what barriers he's going to break through your life. I want to know. He said, "You will still be eating last year's harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new".
That's what repentance is. It's a change of mind. It makes room for the new. A new way of thinking. You're doing it the old way. You keep manipulating, keep forcing, keep getting angry. That's the old way. That's not how you do it anymore. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come". There's a new way to do this, a new way to live, a new way to love, a new way to serve, a way that seems upside down but is actually right side up. God said, "If you will make room for the new, you will still be eating last year's harvest when you will have to move it out".
Father, I thank you for your Word today, the power of it, the precision of it. You are so on time. I trust you. I trust you that it will not return void. What you spoke in this place today is not just about Peter. This is not a history lesson or an agricultural lesson. This is a word from heaven for someone's life: make room for the new. I pray for your people, Lord, whatever they're holding on to that is old that needs to be moved out to make room for the new. Maybe all their life they thought they had to earn acceptance, so they're stuck in performance, and they think you're like that too. I pray that, today, grace would clear the way to make room for the new. I thank you today that strongholds in our minds are being broken by the power of the Spirit of God. We thought we had to run to something else to get our needs met. That's the old way of thinking. That's the old way of living. That's the old way of coping, but we came into your presence today to make room for the new. We thank you that you're doing something in our lives right now. We'll never truly know the power of this moment until it's over. We never fully understand the reason for this season until we're in the next one, but I ask that you would grant unto us the gift of faith so we can trust you for what's next.
If God brought you here today and you've been holding on to something old… Maybe it's an offense or a regret. It could be a pattern of habits or just a way you get your own way. God knows, I have plenty. If you want to release that right now in the presence of the Lord, I invite you to just lift your hands to heaven like you're letting something go, and just keep your hands up.
I don't want to miss it, God. I don't want to miss what you have for me. We don't want to miss what you have for us because we were afraid or because we thought we were smarter than you. You are the potter; we are the clay. We ask you to mold us and fill us and make us. O Lord, touch each heart, each mind. Lift the burden. Break the barrier. Whatever they think you can't do, do it. Show them what kind of God you are. Show them how you can raise the dead. Show them how you kill categories and make ways and do stuff that human minds cannot innovate or imagine. Do it in our lives, God. Do it through our children. Do it in our generation. Do it in our world. Do it in our church. Do it in this movement. Create in us a clean heart. Make room for the new. We're letting go of what it was. We're letting go of what we thought. We are embracing your ways, for your ways are higher than our ways and your thoughts are higher than our thoughts. We came in this place today as your tabernacle to make room in our hearts for you, Lord.
If there's someone here today who needs a new beginning, who needs to be saved, who needs to be brought into the family of God, right now, in this moment, would you touch their hearts and bring them to faith in Jesus Christ so they can be saved and forgiven and set free? Right now, at all of our locations, I'm going to give an invitation for someone who wants to receive the grace of Jesus Christ for your life, who wants to say, "God, I'm giving up my life to you and embracing your life and your plan for me".
The Bible says it is by grace you were saved, not of works. No one can boast about it. It is the gift of God. So for everyone who wants to receive this gift… The Scripture says we were dead in our sins and Christ died for us. He didn't just die for us to be good people; he died to give us life. He died to give us a new beginning. He died to make us brand new. So right now, if this is your day and you have felt God speak into you while I've been preaching and you have felt God calling you home and you are ready to make room for the new in your life, I want you to repeat this prayer after me. We pray together as a church family. Repeat after me.
Heavenly Father, today is my day. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world, and today I make Jesus the Lord of my life. I believe he died that I would be forgiven and rose again to give me life. I receive this new life. This is my new beginning. I am a child of God.
On the count of three, shoot your hand up if you prayed that. One, two, three. Shoot them up. God bless you. Come on, let's celebrate new life! Let's celebrate new beginnings! Let's celebrate new stories! Come on, church!