Steven Furtick - For Those Under Attack
You're under attack, and there are some things you need to know about this attack. The good news is it is not an ambush. Peter says the Devil is like a roaring lion. That means he gives you a warning before the warfare begins. Sometimes we act really surprised by things we go through and ways we struggle. We come into situations that are harder than we expected them to be, and we ask God to do great things in our lives, but the battle begins and we act like we weren't warned. Peter said, "This lion, the Devil, is not silent. He's a roaring…" Come on, give me your best roar. The Devil is all up in your face. He'll let you know it's coming.
What you need to know if you are under attack… I will not have you raise your hand, because perhaps the very people who need this message the most would be the most reluctant to admit, "This is for me". He said when you find yourself in a season of attack, that roaring lion is in your face… I'm thinking right here Peter is going to say, "Run", because to me that's the only reasonable advice when you're faced with a roaring lion. Hello! I don't even like dogs very much. Holly is scared of rats. Can you imagine if she saw a lion? But he doesn't say, "Run". Instead, he challenges us to resist. It's a certain type of resistance. He says to those who are under attack, "You need to come under the mighty hand of God".
I want you to see that phrase, because it touched me so deeply in my study. I was hoping to explain it to you for a moment today. The three things the hand of God represents. This is verse 6. "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God". That's an image that would have been familiar for a Jewish audience, for it was with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm that God brought his people out of Egyptian slavery. Peter wants them to know that same hand of God that has been actively fulfilling his purpose throughout human history is still reigning over your life. Humble yourself under that mighty hand. The hand of God represents his plan.
I don't know about you, but I'm thankful that God's plan for my life has prevailed even against my own plan that I thought was better sometimes. How many are grateful for the hand of God? If you're grateful for the hand of God, just wave your hand at me. God's hand is not like your hand. It's an invisible hand. You can't see it, but you definitely know the effects of it when it moves, because after you've lived a little while… Peter said, "I saw what happens in the hand of God, the plan of God". Peter is not writing this as advice unsolicited, and he's not writing this as advice uninformed. Peter is a grown Christian man now, getting a little bolder about relaying his advice from his experiences.
Who better to tell us about the hand of God than a man who walked with Jesus Christ in the flesh? Who better to describe to us the function of the hand of God than the one who saw his face? Jesus said, "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father". Peter didn't just trace the hand of God; he saw the face of God. Now he says to those who were under attack, up under depression, up under disappointment, dealing with failure, hit rock bottom, don't know what's next, freaking out, crying yourself to sleep at night, feeling all alone… He says to every believer, "You have the upper hand". The hand of God is mighty. The hand of God is strong. The hand of God is over your life and will prevail. His purpose will come to pass. "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'".
If you find yourself under attack today, you need to know the hand of God is guiding you, leading you, that same hand that split the sea open so his people could walk right through it. The hand of God will make a way where there is no way. The hand of God will bring water out of a rock in a dry place. The hand of God is over your life and he has a plan. The hand of God represents the plan of God. The hand of God represents the provision of God. Who better to remind a church or a believer who is under attack that the hand of God is the place where bread multiplies than the one who saw 5,000 fed with just a few loaves and a few fish? Anytime you've seen a kid's snack pack from Captain D's multiplied into a buffet, you know something about the provision in the hand of God.
Peter was right there. He saw what happened when they put the bread in Jesus' hand. He knew that at times where you feel like you are in a place of lack, your provision is never dependent upon your own ability to provide for yourself or your own ability to create resource for yourself, but anything you put in the hand of God will multiply. Anything you put in the hand of God, it just keeps coming. Do I have any witnesses? You've been through some hard times in your life, but hope kept coming. You've been in some tight places. You felt like you were running out. You didn't feel like you could make it to the next day, but somehow strength kept coming. Joy kept coming. A tomorrow kept coming in spite of your past. The hand of God is a hand of provision. It's a hand of protection. God has me in his grip.
Who better to help me see that the hand of God will protect me than the one who tried to walk on water? Do y'all know the Bible? Go study this story in Matthew, chapter 14, where Peter got out there. He's trying to make his way to Jesus. He's coming toward him, and about the time he gets there… Sometimes it's right when you're on the verge that you start to sink. I never saw it before. In Matthew, chapter 14, it says Peter in the storm got out of the boat, and when he walked out on the water he did pretty well. He came toward Jesus. "But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!'" He cries out before he goes completely under. He's sinking, but he's not sunk. He's going down, but he's not out.
The lion is prowling, but he has not prevailed. This is what I never saw. Verse 31 says, "Immediately…" That's the word. "…Jesus reached out his hand". Immediately Jesus reached out his hand. Notice the construct of the narrative. Jesus is not walking toward Peter; Peter is walking toward Jesus. When Jesus sees Peter falling and hears him crying, he reaches out his hand, and Peter is close enough for Jesus to reach. The problem with some of us isn't that we're sinking. It's that we won't stay close enough for God to get us in his grip. I came to announce to that lion today, that liar, the Devil, that I'm in his grip even when I'm going down. Even though the winds and the waves are roaring and raging in my life, I'm in his grip. God has me in his grip. He has me in the hand of his protection. He might let me suffer a little while, but he won't let me stay there. He is my God and I'm in his hand.
"Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God". It doesn't matter how well you can walk on water; it matters how close you are to his hand. It doesn't matter about your intelligence; it matters about your surrender. It doesn't matter about your ability; it matters about your surrender. Humble yourself. I'm preaching to somebody. I'm preaching to somebody so straight you can't even nod. You're trying to hold back tears, but God sent a preacher with a message. You might as well go ahead and cry out, "Lord, save me. I can't do this on my own. I am not enough by myself". Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and he'll lift you up in due time. He'll get you up. He'll lift you up in due time. He'll let you go down low enough to know that you need him and bring you up high enough to let the world know he's with you.
Verse 7 is what I've been trying to practice, that I can be under attack and not anxious. "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you". I'm trying to do that. After Code Orange Revival, I felt like I went under an emotional attack. I don't even know that I'm out of it yet. Part of it is probably because of adrenaline and physiological factors that have to do with getting up 10 nights in a row and all of the hosting of trying to put up with guests for 10 nights and make them feel special. Part of it, though, had to be spiritual. It was like for 10 nights… If you weren't here in our church, you basically missed out on life by not coming to Code Orange Revival. Not only did our city go through a shaking after the revival but I went through a shaking. I don't want to get up here and use you for a counseling appointment, because I don't want to have to pay your hourly fee or anything like that.
I don't want you to worry about me, because I promise you I'm good. I love my wife and my kids and we're good and everything like that. Don't send me these emails. "We're praying for you, Pastor". That's not the reason I'm telling you this. It'll make me feel like you missed the point if you send an email. I don't want a card or anything like that. Flowers, cookies, trying to get me fat on carbohydrates because you think I'm struggling. I don't want any of that. I don't need any of that. I just want to tell you something. While we were in here talking about 10 nights, celebrating 10 years, I felt overwhelmed about "Do I have what it takes for the next 10"? It's like once you've gone really high with God, as a leader, I think you feel a pressure to go higher.
Then it's kind of hard, because you feel like maybe you've gone as high as you can go. Maybe you feel that way as a parent, not as a preacher. Maybe you feel that way in your business. I don't know who I'm preaching to, but I'm going to open myself up here a little bit for you today, if it will be helpful, because anxiety attacked me. It hit me kind of hard. I wasn't staying in bed. I didn't go get addicted to some kind of pills or anything like that. It was a thing in my mind. "I don't have what it takes. This is as far as I can take them. I don't know if I'm the one to do it". All this stuff that was going through my mind.
That's how I got over to 1 Peter, chapter 5. I know that Scripture. I love that Scripture. That Scripture has helped me before. Sometimes when you are up against a fight you have to go back to a weapon you know. "I can't fight Goliath in this armor. I have to get a slingshot". It was a well-known verse, and I went back in there and considered the context of Peter, who fell asleep in the garden of Gethsemane while he was supposed to be watching Jesus' back. Jesus came over to him. He gave him two wake-up calls. He hit the snooze button three times. "Are you still sleeping"? I looked at how Peter was telling the church to be alert, which is translated elsewhere in the New Testament, "Be prayerful".
The Enemy eats Christians who sleep in times of battle. Be alert to what's going on. Realize that the birthmark of a believer is a bull's-eye. The Devil doesn't like it one bit that you're moving forward in your relationship with God. I started taking the verse apart, because the Word of God really is what I live by, not just what I make my living off of. I went into verse 7 really hard like I needed an answer. When anxiety attacks, it will drive you to seek God, to seek his hand. I was looking for him, because he said, "Cast all your anxiety". While I was reading it, since I knew Peter wrote it and he's a fisherman, I wondered if he was picturing casting the nets from one side of the boat to the other just because Jesus told him to.
Sometimes anxiety in our lives is a result of our unwillingness to be obedient. When he cast the net to the other side… Maybe that's a word for somebody. He said, "Cast all your anxiety on him". Do it his way now. "We fished all night and caught nothing", Peter said. "But because you say so, I'm going to cast my net on the other side. I've been trying to do this my way. I've been trying to handle it on my own, but I'm going to cast my net on the other side". However, it was in verses 5-6 that I found my answer. In verse 5 he says, "In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe…" The Greek word means tie on. Tie it on, like a towel, like Jesus did when he took on the role of a servant. He got a servant's towel and put it around his waist.
When Peter saw him tying on that towel, he said, "No, you don't tie on the towel, Jesus. You sit on the throne". But Jesus tied on the towel. I wonder if, as Peter is telling them to clothe themselves in humility, he is having a flashback of the Savior, who laid his riches in glory aside and made himself nothing, found in the appearance of sinful man and became a servant, humbling himself even to death on a cross, as he tied on the towel and washed Peter's feet. Peter's response was, "No, Lord, you can't wash my feet". Jesus said, "Peter, shut up". That's not the exact conversation, but it's the essence of it. He did what he came to do.
The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. Maybe my biggest problem was the fact that I always thought verse 7, the instruction where he said, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you…" You go to the Word of God sometimes and try to pluck up these little promises. You try to do stuff. "I like that verse. That verse". Back up and catch the essence of the text. Verse 6: "Humble yourself, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you".
To really understand the essence and profundity of the connection, you need to see a more literal translation of verses 6-7. Peter is writing this letter in Koine Greek. In the Greek language, as Peter is writing this letter, as you will see demonstrated in verses 6-7, these are not two separate sentences. It reads like this: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you comma…" What happens next is predicated on whether or not what happens in verse 6 is applied. In Greek it is one sentence. "Humble yourself, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may exalt you in due time, casting all your anxiety on him because he cares for you".
I've been trying to cast my anxieties and keep my pride. The thing about it is you need to know the pride and the anxiety come in the same package. If you insist on doing it your way, then expect to feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, because it is. You can't just do verse 7 because you decide to. "God, take it off me. God, take it off me. I'm so worried, God. Make me not worried anymore". "Don't you care if we perish"? That's what Peter said one time in the boat. "Don't you care that we're drowning"? "God, you said cast all my anxieties on you. I'm casting them. I'm casting them. This isn't working". Look at the word anxiety. I'm telling the Lord in my prayers, "I don't know if I can do it. I just need you to give me a sign that I can take the church forward the next 10 years. Take this anxiety. I'm casting it on you, Lord. I am casting it on you, all of my anxiety".
After I prayed this way for a little while, the Lord spoke to me in my heart. This is not an out-loud conversation. I don't want you to think I'm really, really crazy, but this is the impression I got. The Lord said, "Are you done now? Shut up, Peter. Are you done now"? Look at the word anxiety. Look at how it's spelled in English. Look at what is in the center of the word. Do you see it? At the center of your anxiety, if you really trace it… I'm not talking about a medical condition. I'm not a pharmacist. I don't know about all that. I am not a neurologist. I'm saying, spiritually speaking, the Lord told me at the center of your anxiety is your pride. The reason you're so anxious is because you have you at the center, and you can't sustain it because it's not your throne.