Steven Furtick - Stop Letting Your Mind Drive
In order for God to bring something new, he has to disrupt something normal. When I was saying "Positioned for a miracle", I could almost feel you shouting through the screen. You were like, "Yes, Lord! Pay it off. Take it away. Do it, God". But this passage is going to show us a different way to look at it, that as we're coming into one new thing, we're leaving another. I want to read the Scripture to you, starting in verse 1. It says, "Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim…" So they're going somewhere. Say it in the chat. "I'm going somewhere".
God's hand is on me. I'm going somewhere. God is taking me somewhere. God has not left me. God will not forsake me. God will not abandon me. God will not let me see decay. He will never leave the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging for bread. God will feed me and lead me and guide me and protect me. He said he would. He promised he would. That's what he does. This God is our God forever and ever. He will be our guide even to the end. Holly was preaching the other day on Facebook. She said, "We want God to be our ride, but God said he would be our guide". I was like, "Girl, that Dr. Seuss anointing looks sexy on you". That is so good.
We want God to be like an Uber. Like, "Hey, I'm going to get back here, and I don't want to talk to you. I just want you to take me here. Here's where I want to go. I want a new job. I want my wife to start respecting me. I want my kids to get straight A's, A+. Why not? Just go for it, God. Get them into Harvard, Yale. Harvard undergrad and Yale for the doctorate, God". We want God to just get us there, but we're going to see something today about when God says, "Stop". One thing we need to stop doing is looking at God as a means and start seeing that he is the end…his presence, to know him, to be strengthened by him. Even though I'm going somewhere, it's not so important just about where God takes me; it's what he shows me along the way. This is a pivotal moment in my life and your life, because we're not really sure about the destination or how long.
How long is the coronavirus going to dominate our headlines? Then even after that, how long is it going to terrorize our economy? We don't know. It's interesting, because the Bible says… Let me just read the Scripture. I'm so excited. Can you tell? The Lord has really been speaking to me. God's Word never stops. It never returns void. It's almost like the more trouble we get in, the more of God's presence and more of God's grace and more of God's Word… He just makes it available to us. The Lord has really been overflowing in my heart. It said, "Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites…" This is good. The first thing God said "Stop" to me about… He said, "Stop acting like you're the only one". Like I'm the only one scared right now, like I'm the only one struggling right now. Or even for America. We have a global family. We call it eFam. It used to stand for extended.
Now it stands for everywhere, because we're all eFam. Even our local congregation is having to experience God's Word from a distance. One thing people keep saying that bothers me is, "Well, we're all in the same boat". No, we're not. We're not all in the same boat. This storm we're going through, if I can use that analogy, affects all of us in different ways. While one man in my church right now might be thinking, "Well, this is good for me. I get a break. I get a break from the stress of life", and maybe the shutdown of commerce and industry to that man represents a break or a sense of relief or a welcome interruption of the rhythm.
About the time he's feeling relief, somebody else in my church just laid off 150 employees. That happened this week. This is not theoretical, hypothetical. As a pastor, I get to see how something affects all of the people. I think it's really arrogant when we put ourselves at the center of a struggle. Another thing it does is it increases our anxiety, because we start thinking we are the first ones to ever go through anything. Then, if you get that self-centered, you get shortsighted, so then you start thinking, "This is the only thing I've ever been through like this". I heard someone say that the other day. They said, "We've never been through anything like this before". Hello! In 1918, the influenza that killed… Look. Somebody from 1918 is watching us from heaven right now go through this. Not understanding our frame of reference can be detrimental to our revelation of God's power. When we think we're the first ones who ever went through anything, before long, we start thinking this is unlike anything else we've ever been through.
So I want to remind you today that you are not the only one. I'm not the only one scared. I'm not the only one uncertain. I'm not the only one with questions. We are going through this together. Now here's what's interesting. We are all always going through something, but right now it kind of feels like we're going through the same thing. Yet although we're going through the same storm, we're not all in the same boat. Some people are going through this current crisis in a battleship, barely feeling it. You can almost see them on Instagram all the time. They make you sick. They're like, "I'm all out of Cheetos. Got to move to Doritos now. #quarantineproblems". Like, whoa! Somebody else is in a kayak going through the storm, and they're like, "I'm thinking about feeding my family on minimum wage".
When I said we're positioned for a miracle… I think God is positioning us for the miracle of empathy, to really be able to stop for a moment disagreeing about petty stuff, stupid stuff, stop arguing for a minute about stupid stuff, because they all had to go through together. Now, this is the passage to the Promised Land. We're not going into a geographical land here. We're talking about the promises of God, everything he has promised you…peace, provision, protection…all the stuff we want. Right? But they all had to go through together. That really touched me. It touched me, because I have three kids. This is two million people. I can't even get my three kids to get in the car to get across South Charlotte to get to school before 7:30 a.m. together, and now Joshua has to lead… It says in the Scripture, "…all the people". Well, this is a miracle. I can't even get my kids to agree on what show to watch, and Joshua has to get all of the people across. This is a miracle.
You know, Graham asked me the other day… This is funny. Actually, this was several months ago. He came up to me. He was in a Bible class. He goes to this Christian school. He was asking me a theological question. He goes, "Dad, why do you think God stopped doing so many miracles like he did in Bible times"? I said, "I don't know. Why do you think"? He said, "Maybe because he was younger back then and had more energy". I love it. This is the Old Testament. Right? And we're all like, "Oh, I know this story. Joshua 3. God parted the waters, and all of the people went through. Why doesn't God still do miracles like that"? Yet you are holding a phone in your hand right now or you are watching on Roku or Apple TV or some newfangled technological device. Thank you, Steve Jobs, for making this moment possible. We will sit in a miracle and not recognize it as a miracle, because we have a very difficult time appreciating a miracle when we're in it. We have a very difficult time appreciating a good moment when we're in it. So then we start looking back at old times. "Oh, those were the good ol' days".
You know, Flashback Friday and Throwback Thursday. It's like we want to be anywhere but here. So God gives us a moment where we have to stop and be here because March Madness was canceled. The whole NBA just stopped. That's when I knew this was bad. When the NBA stopped, I was like, "Oh God! This is real". There's a moment in this Scripture… I was reading it word for word. It's amazing how the little things in Scripture come alive when you stop and think about them, just go through them. Since this message is called When God Says Stop! I want to stop on something that's significant. "Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan…" Which is the place where God always reveals identity. You remember.
That's where Jesus went to be baptized: the Jordan. "This is my Son…" That's where God always shows you who you really are by what he brings you through. That spoke to me. When we're going through something, the goal isn't just to get through it; the goal is for God to show us something in it that will make us better on the other side. I'm going to be better on the other side. It may look different. It's not going to be normal. We're not going back to normal, but I'm going to be better on the other side of this. You have to go in with that assurance or else you're going to stand… The Israelites stayed for 40 years on the wrong side of the Jordan. I'm going to tell you something else. God didn't stop them from going into the Promised Land. God didn't stop them.
I used to preach that they got stuck in the wilderness and how some of us get stuck in temptation or we get stuck in unbelief or we get stuck in fear. One day I was preaching that, and the Lord slowed me down and said, "They didn't get stuck; they stopped". There was nothing keeping them in. There's nothing keeping us right now from being grateful. "You haven't seen my bank account". I'm not talking about your bank account; I'm talking about your belief system. I'm talking about you believe that God is good at the bottom and you have this hope as an anchor for your soul. That's a rock. That's a foundation. It can't be shaken by a storm. The winds can come, the streams can rise and beat against the house, and it didn't fall; it only showed the foundation for what it was. When they crossed the Jordan, they were doing what the previous generation could have done, but they stopped.
Sometimes we tell ourselves we're stuck when the fact is we just stopped. "Oh man. I've just been depressed lately. Everywhere I look is bad news". Stop watching it! I feel an anointing on one word. I preach so many sermons on "Go"! You know, God told Abraham, "Go to the land I will show you". He said, "Go and make disciples". That was the Great Commission. "Go! Go! Go"! But what about when God says, "Stop"? I believe God is issuing… Like I yelled at the top of my lungs the other day. "Stop! Stop scrolling". "I wonder why I don't have any peace. God, give me peace". But you have a leaky bucket you're asking God to put peace in, because you won't turn off your phone. It needs to charge. It's getting hot. It's burning your hand. You're going to feed yourself fear and then pray for more faith? God says, "Stop". "Yeah, well, I need to be informed".
Hey. Nobody knows right now. Nobody knows. I mean, you know everything everybody knows right now. You know enough. I want to tell you something else. You know enough about God to get you through this valley. We talk about going through. I know I'm going to get through this. I don't say that in a callous way or a cliché way or a hashtag kind of faith. I'm saying the Lord is my shepherd. I know that. He's my guide. I know that. I shall not want. Hang on a second. There's a weird part of this passage. It says, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me lie down in green pastures". It's like he's saying God will guide you, and sometimes, in order to get you to green pastures, he has to give you a red light. He makes me lie down.
It's right there in Joshua 3, how God is leading his people. He has led them 40 years in the wilderness. They've been through things before, but now they're standing at something new, just like we are. Some of you God has seen through divorce. He has seen you through a miscarriage. He has seen you through a suicidal impulse, that you almost took your own life, and then you didn't. He saw you through the worst decision of your life. He saw you through financial mistakes. He saw you through all of that, and now you are standing at this, and you're like, "I've never been here before". In that moment, what you know has to take over what you feel.
That's what I want to illustrate in the text: when God says, "Stop living by feelings and start living by faith". Stop living by sight. I feel the Holy Spirit. When God says, "Stop". It's so important that we listen to the Holy Spirit when he says, "Stop". Stop playing out all the worst "What if" scenarios in your brain. You've gone way past planning. "I'm just getting a plan". Is that what you call it? A plan? When you're projecting every possible scenario and trying to predict… You think you're Miss Cleo or something like that? You ain't a prophet. You're going to give yourself an ulcer. I prophesy Pepto-Bismol in your future every night before you go to bed if you don't stop it.
I love what God gave them and how the presence of God sometimes will tell you to stop. All this in verse 1. Don't y'all get scared, but I have 17 verses. But I will stop at some point so the next service can run. It says, "Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan…" The place of identity. The instruction was, "Camp before crossing over". Isn't that cool, how God was bringing them into something new, and before he could bring them into this new space, he told them to stop and camp? What he tells them to do next I want to give you as a prophetic word for what God might be saying to you for this season of your life. We're all going through this at the same time, but we're not all going through the same thing.
Some people are making real decisions right now. Like our church… All week, it was just decision after decision after decision. The problem is we're all trying to… Okay. I'll go ahead and give you the next point. Are you ready? Stop wasting today's strength fighting tomorrow's battles. Stop! Stop trying to defend yourself against doomsday that may or may not happen. Make decisions. God will give you the wisdom for the decisions you need to make right now. I believe he will. I'm believing that for every health care worker. I'm believing that for our leaders. I'm believing that God is going to bring our country together in a way right now that we're going to figure out some stuff we've needed to fix for a long time. And your nation. God is going to bring us together. We're positioned for a miracle, but we have to go through together.