Steven Furtick - When Your Thoughts Attack
Honestly, this is why I had to stop hanging out with some certain people. I started realizing you catch what you're close to. Now if you need to take out your phone at this point in my sermon and do some surgery with that "swipe left, delete" move… Some of y'all don't need to lift your hands to have more faith; you need to swipe your thumb, because it is your contacts… I caught something. I catch something every time I'm around them, every time I scroll. I noticed this the other day. I get in a certain mood, and I can't figure out, "How was I so happy three minutes ago, and now…"? Have you ever had it switch that quickly?
I started studying, and I realized that before I caught a feeling, I caught a thought. Sometimes that thought is just me going through my feed, and I will see something that won't register… Here's what I noticed. You don't feel it while you're scrolling. When I ate a whole bag of Oreos one Thanksgiving after I'd already eaten three meals, I didn't feel sick while I was eating them. My taste buds didn't tell me to stop. So I'm scrolling, and I don't feel sick until after I've stopped. What I realized about myself… Maybe you're more spiritually mature than me and you can find a church where the pastor is whole, healthy, and doesn't have these issues, but for all of us who understand that sometimes you are mad about something that you saw 10 minutes ago on your phone because you were in everybody else's life but your own, trying to figure out, "Am I better than them? Are they better than me"?
What happened while I was scrolling… I saw them on vacation, and I know they're in debt, so I caught a thought of judgment. "Why should they be on vacation when I know they're in debt"? Now I feel sick 10 minutes later because of a thought I caught while I scrolled through somebody else's situation that has nothing to do with my responsibility. What happened to me was I caught a thought of offense, and then I reaped an attitude of frustration. I got offended the other day because I saw God blessing somebody he wasn't supposed to bless. Did you ever watch God just do something awesome for the wrong person? He didn't consult you. So I found myself feeling insecure. The reason I felt insecure in myself is because I caught a thought of offense about somebody else.
Now here's what happens: You become a victim of your own judgment. When you judge others that way, you judge you that way. So when you catch a thought of judging others, don't be surprised when the judgment comes upon you. So I caught a thought. I caught a thought, and I realized the thought I hold onto… You know, like you can catch a wave. You can catch a football for the game-winning touchdown, like Graham Furtick did yesterday. Just this very yesterday. But I never knew I could catch a thought. I knew you could catch a case. I have some relatives who did it. I knew you could catch a cold, but I found out you could catch a thought. Then I trace sometimes the weakness of my faith, and I ask myself the question, "Where did that thought come from"? It's important where it came from, because where it comes from determines where it leads to.
My issue is that when I say I hear from God, I don't hear him out loud. God bless you if you do. I've never heard the audible voice of God. Ever. I mean, he speaks through my wife all the time, but other than that exception, I've never heard the audible voice of God. If you have, I'm not mad at you…unless you start trying to use it to manipulate people by making up stuff God told you, because God has three-way calling and he can tell us both. Don't tell me God spoke to you something I'm not in agreement with and try to get me to do something you want to do by saying God told you to, especially if you say God told you to quit your job because you're just tired of dealing with frustrating people. I don't know if that's God or if you're just tired and need to get some sleep and have a better attitude when you show up. I've never heard from God out loud.
One guy asked me one time, "When you say God spoke to you, how do you know"? Great question. I don't hear God at an auditory level, so when I say, "God spoke", that can be misleading. When Peter said, "Jesus spoke to me", it was literal. Jesus was a person. "He spoke to me. I was fishing one night. I hadn't caught anything. I was frustrated, and Jesus said, 'Let down your nets in the deep for a catch.'" And Peter would say, "At first I was frustrated, because I thought, 'You're a carpenter. I'm a fisherman. You do your job; I'll do mine. You wanted my boat to preach from. I didn't know you were going to try to drive it.' But because you say so, I will let down the nets". Now, when he let down the nets, he caught a great number of fish, but God was showing me that before he caught the fish, he caught a thought. Before there was a seat, there was a thought.
See, the issue with this is I don't hear God out loud like that, so I connect with God not on an auditory or sensory level; I connect with God at the level of thought, which would be fine if God spoke to me at the level of thought and he was the only one who spoke that way. But I have this other joker. They call him the Devil. When I say, "The Devil tempts me" or "The Devil discourages me", I'm not talking about a guy in a Halloween costume that he got on clearance at Target, walking up with a pitchfork and a cape and some horns. I never saw the Devil like that. I'd just put him off my shoulder. He's not on my shoulder. When he comes to me, he comes to me through a thought.
So now I have God speaking to me through my thoughts. I have the Enemy trying to speak against what God spoke to me through my thoughts. I have two voices on the same device, and I'm caught between a thought. One is telling me, "Your greatest years are ahead of you". One is telling me, "You've already done all the good things you're going to do. You'd better ride it out, because it won't be much longer". One is telling me, "Go ahead and speak it and say it and do it and step into it and believe for it". The other one is telling me, "Well, you'd better not go too far out there. If you go too far out there, you'll be embarrassed. After all, if you climb high, they can pull you down". I'm caught between Caleb ("We can") and the other spies. I'm caught. I got a thought. I got caught. I got caught by a thought.
I don't know how it happened, but, y'all, I have this thought that goes through my mind all the time that says, "It doesn't matter". Just all the time. I could be doing anything, and it will be like… You know that eye roll emoji? That would be the face of it, but the thought behind it is like, "Who cares? It doesn't matter". Have you ever had that thought catch you trying to do something? "You're not enough". I don't know if you say it exactly like that, but it's crazy how many people I talk to… I used to think it was people who didn't have a lot of confidence, but then I realized professional athletes have this thought that "I'm not enough". They are the ones who our society worships, and still there's a thought… It's a thought that's going around. The reason it's going around so much more now than it used to go around is because now we don't judge ourselves or measure ourselves according to the calling God has given us; we compare ourselves to a fictionalized account of somebody else's life. That's where you always get in trouble.
Now get this point. You always get in trouble when you start comparing your calling to somebody else's. When you compare callings, you catch insecurity. When you compare callings, you catch insufficiency. When I think, "I'm not enough…" Even the disciples… "It's not enough food to go around, Jesus. You need to send them away". How many times have I sent away something God put in my life because I caught a thought that I'm not enough? They wandered around and around and around in the wilderness for 40 years, not because of their enemy but because of their thought. Then even sometimes when things are going well I have this thought. I don't know where it comes from. I don't think it's God. I don't think it is. It's hard to tell sometimes, because it's not like he talks like this. He doesn't sound like Morgan Freeman. It's just a thought.
Come on. If God sounded like Morgan Freeman, you could do it. If he narrated your life like that, you could do it. You could make it. You would go to sleep and wake up and just be ready for the day. But it comes like a thought. Even when it's going well… "It won't last. They'll leave you too. You can't count on them". Then you sabotage the gift because you're not secure in it, because even while it's happening you don't believe it's real. These are my thoughts. I don't know where I caught them. I had a good mom, a good dad. I mean, they weren't perfect. Don't get me wrong. I wish I could trace it back to just one traumatic event. I think that would be easier. "I'm not enough". Where did that thought come from? I'm not sure where it comes from, but I know where it takes me.
When I look back on the seasons of my life that I was so deep in depression… And I know the Bible verses. I know them better than you. Let's have a quoting contest. "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice"! See my hand motions? I know the verse. "Rejoice in the Lord always". Then Paul says, "I will say it again: Rejoice"! Well, you can say it as many times as you want to, Paul. I'm sad right now, and I can't find my way out. So now I'm fighting on the level of my feelings, but before it became a feeling… It wasn't just like Moses was a bad leader.
Even Paul had to fight against opposing voices and thought systems that undermined the essence of the grace of God in the gospel, even in the churches he started, even in the church at Corinth. He would write to that church, and what would happen to them was they would be led astray, or the word he likes to use in 2 Corinthians is deceived. He says, "I fear that you're being deceived by the power of suggestion". He uses the example… He says, "Like Eve was deceived by the Serpent". Do you remember that story? When God said, "You can eat any of this", and then she caught a thought from a snake. She allowed something that was beneath her to speak to her. She caught a thought. See, I've never had a snake slither up to me and talk to me. I wish I did. I wish it was a snake that I could chop the head off of. It's a thought, and I have to live with this, and I have to deal with it.
The Serpent said to Eve, "Did God really say…"? Do you see it? He introduces a doubt into the possibility and potential of faith, causing her to focus on what is not available rather than what is. Paul says, "I'm afraid that you will be deceived". There are these spies in the church at Corinth, and they're leading the Christians astray. They're doing it by the power of thought. They are introducing the thought into the church that you need something other than Christ to justify you. He says, "I fear that you have been led astray from your pure devotion to Christ". Pure is the right word.
That's the important word: pure. It's that uncontaminated place that you access occasionally, where you know God has got you and everything is going to be all right. Have you ever just felt that and you had no reason to and you didn't even have the facts to back it up? Have you ever just felt that, like, "Wow! I feel like I'm going to make it and God is going to do it. I can't even prove it on a flow chart or anything like that, but I just…" What happens is the Enemy deceives you. He can't take what God gave you. You know that, right? I need to make sure you know that. He can't take what God gave you, but if he can get you to catch a thought that opposes it, he can keep you so weak you will not walk into it.