Steven Furtick - Why You Need The Spirit of God
Some of us have the wrong interpreter. We are interpreting our present through our past. We are interpreting our purpose through our pain. We are interpreting our entire life through one little situation. We are interpreting our future through our flaws. When you have the wrong interpreter it messes everything up. The first time I went to speak in a country where they didn't speak English… The first international speaking trip I remember was Australia. They speak kind of English. I like to pick on the Aussies. They shorten everything. They kind of speak English, but they nickname everything. They call praise songs "praisies", and that's weird. When I go over there, they don't call me Steven; they call me Steve. There's an N on my name for a reason. My mom put it there. Would you please let my consonants come through customs and put the N on the end of my name? I love Australia. I've been there many times.
One time I went to preach in a place where they didn't speak English, and I called a wiser minister who had preached many times in international settings and said, "Give me some different things I need to know about preaching through an interpreter". A translator is for written; an interpreter is for spoken. I said, "I need some of your wisdom on speaking through an interpreter". He gave me a few things, but one thing he said that stood out… He said, "First pray that you get a good one, because you'll think he's saying what you said, and sometimes you can tell…" I said, "How will I tell if I have a bad interpreter"? He said, "One thing, he'll talk longer than you. When you finish your sentence, he'll say three sentences. That means he's putting something in that you didn't intend to say".
Can I tell you all something? The Devil has been putting some stuff in between what God has spoken to you… He puts thoughts in people's minds about you in your mind that they weren't even thinking about you. It makes you paranoid. "Oh man, look at how they're looking at me. They don't like me". No, they actually don't like their husband, and they came to work in a bad mood because of something else that had nothing to do with you, but the Devil will make you think that they don't like you, because he's an interpreter that likes to add. Have you ever had this happen before in a situation, where you start interpreting it wrong, and now all of a sudden you're thinking they said things or thought things that they didn't say or think? He said the other extreme you have to look out for… Sometimes they won't say everything you just said. They'll cut it short. He said sometimes they'll leave stuff out.
That's what the Enemy will do when you let him interpret your life. He'll only show you what's wrong with you, but he won't let you see how God is going to use everything you consider to be a deficiency to bring you into your destiny, so he will only keep you confined. Come on, church. That golf clap is not even worth doing. If you're going to praise God and worship God for what he has spoken over your life and the fact that no man can add to it or subtract from it… If he said it, it'll happen. If he said in three days he will rise… "I might be on a cross now, baby, but resurrection power is in my future". So, before we leave this place today, I just want to give you five things to pray for.
I thought we would just spell out the word dream, because Joseph interpreted not only the dream of the prisoners, not only the dream of Pharaoh, but his own dream that he had at 17 years old, not through the lens of what he had lost in his life. You know how you keep doing it? You keep focusing so much on who left you and the opportunity you wasted. You keep bringing that forward with you into the next opportunity, and it's messing with you. You need the Holy Spirit. This is what the Holy Spirit does. Speak in tongues. That's awesome. Shout at the top of your lungs. That's awesome. Get a goose bump. I'll get one with you. We'll rub our goose bumps together. It's all wonderful. But what I really need the Spirit of God for is for those groans that words can't express.
The first one I'm praying for the power to interpret, like Paul said, because I know interpretations belong to God, so I need God… "God, help me to interpret my desires". I don't sometimes know why I want what I want, and neither did Paul. He was like, "What I want to do I don't do. What I don't want to do I do". That doesn't make any sense. If you want to do it, you want to do it. What do you mean you want to do it and you don't do it? He's like, "Well, there's flesh. There's the Spirit. I have a new nature. I love God, and then four minutes later I really still love God, but I love something that's the opposite of God too, and I don't know what to do".
I need the Holy Spirit to show me why I want what I want. If the Holy Spirit doesn't interpret my desires, I will run around my whole life trying to get what I want, and then when I get it I won't even want what I have. God, help me interpret my desires. Sometimes what will happen is it's not like one desire is divine and one is demonic. There's no devil and no angel. Sometimes what the Enemy will do to me is he'll take a God-given desire and distort it. What I really want is not a bad thing. It's not a bad desire. I notice a lot of people these days seem to want to be famous. Famous for what? Famous so I can be famous. Have you noticed that fame is like the number-one cultural value now? I was thinking about that as to why everybody wants to be famous. You think about it. Fame is kind of a weird thing. People aren't really built to receive that amount of attention.
When you see the number of famous people who are famous and don't even want to go on living, it should cause you to question, "What is the real thing I want? Is it really fame? Is it really followers on some platform full of people who don't even know me but only the presentation and projection I choose to stage, the props I put in my life? Is that really what I want? Do I really want to be noticed or do I really want to be known"? I think a lot of times we're trying to be noticed, and the real desire is we want to be known. The Spirit of God can show you your real desire to say, "I know you're doing all this to try to get people to notice you, but I'm the only one who really knows you". When people know you from a distance and they notice things about you but they don't know the real you and you still feel lonely, it's so important that you ask the Spirit of God things like this.
"What am I really spending 14 or 16 hours a day working for? Is it really to give my kids the life they…" Is it really that or are you trying to prove something to somebody who's not even paying attention? Early in Joseph's life he was like, "You were all bowing down to me. It was awesome". Twenty years later, he's the one crumbling on his knees, because he realizes the desire God gave him was not so he could be important but so he could have influence, not so he could have status but so he could be a servant. So, God, show me my desires. Show me which ones come from you, and help me. I used to always pray Psalm 37:4. It says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart". An immature interpretation of that is, "God is going to give me what I want".
God is just peeling them off. What you want. What you want. What you want. Now I look at it like he will give me the right desires. He will give me, impart unto me the right desires. So I don't just come up wanting to impress people, but I start asking God, "How can I be a blessing"? I cannot simultaneously be a blessing if I'm trying to be impressive, so I want to get out of my own way and ask God to interpret my desires. "God, I want you. I want your presence in my life. God, I want your pleasure, your smile. God, I want harmony and peace with you, even if it costs me position with people sometimes. God, I don't want to just be popular. I want to live a life of purpose. I want to know that this matters and means something at the end of it all". I need the power of interpretation for my desires. You can't really have that if you don't get past rejection.
The second thing is, "God, will you help me interpret my rejection? Will you help me look at my brothers not just through the lens of what they did to me but through the lens of what you want to do through me"? He says two things. He says, "You rejected me, but God protected me". Do you see it? Genesis 45:5: "You sold me; God sent me to preserve life". When I was 17, it felt like rejection, but now that I've grown and now that I've experienced the grace of God… Now that I've let go of the resentment and I refuse to hold onto it, I see that what man calls rejection sometimes God calls protection. Some of the people who left you, God was removing them. God wanted to do some things for you that only he could do, and if he had let them say yes, you wouldn't have been ready for what was next.
I'm going to come back to these and preach a whole series on them, each one. I'm going to preach a series on dream. I promise you I will do it. If you stay here long enough, I will do it. I might be 93 years old, but I'm going to preach this thing. I have to get God to help me interpret my desires and rejection. Then I have to make sure God filters my emotions. "God, help me interpret my emotions". I know what I feel, but let me be honest: as a man, sometimes I don't even know what I feel. Being married has helped me so much with interpretation. I really love my wife. I jokingly call Holly the Holly spirit. It's only half joking. She's a great interpreter.
One time we were fighting about a bill. I think it was like $3,243. Guess what I didn't have in the bank account: $3,243. I got so angry. I'm not the kind of guy who goes around yelling at his wife, but I was yelling at her this day. This was years ago. This was like the early stages of marriage, so you'll forgive me for being angry. At one point in the argument she goes, "Why are you so angry"? I yelled, "I'm not angry"! Head spins around. "I'm not angry"! You know what? I was telling the truth. I wasn't really angry; I was afraid. It was expressing itself as anger, but she was able to interpret the fear that was driving my anger. When she realized I wasn't mad at her; I was mad at the attorney who sent that bill and mad at BB&T for not having enough money in my bank account to pay the attorney who sent the bill…
See how an interpretation can change everything? She was able to realize, "It's not me versus you in this moment; it's us versus this bill, and let's figure it out together". If you don't pray for the power to interpret, you will just live at the level of the emotion and never know what is beneath the surface, and you will repeat the emotion on the next person who steps into the line of fire of your unfiltered experiences. So, God, help me interpret my emotions. So I'll say, "I'm depressed. I'm in depression right now". Well, maybe you are depressed or maybe… Sometimes it's just Monday. You always feel this way on Monday. You just haven't been outside yet. But if you don't ask God…
Do not interpretations belong to God? That's what Joseph knew. On one hand, emotionally, he's angry, he's crying, and he sends everybody out of his presence, but then beneath the emotion he realized the reason. Now here's a good question… Are you living at the level of reaction or reason? If you always just react, react, react but never ask God, "What is the reason I'm reacting this way"? you will fix the wrong factors. This is where a lot of preaching gets so mean and hateful and impossible, because we're correcting behaviors but not addressing the beliefs that drive the behaviors. You'll hear a preacher sometimes preach against addiction, but why is she drinking six glasses? Or you'll hear it preached against pornography or sexual addiction, and the preacher will never address the fact that you're reaching out for God when you log on that site.
You just don't know it's God you're reaching out for, so you're trying to fill it with something that leaves you more empty, but you're really reaching out for God. What you really want isn't sex; it's connection. So you run around for sex, but you don't get connection, because it's empty, because you never asked God, "Why"? This takes reflection. This takes sitting alone with God and even other people you trust and joining an eGroup and sharing some stuff that makes you uncomfortable. (Shameless plug. Today there are tents outside. Join an eGroup.) Pharaoh said, "I need someone to interpret my dream". The prisoners said, "I need someone to interpret my dream".
Really, I need God to help me interpret not only the hard things I've been through, but look at Joseph now. He's in a position of power. Not only does he have the power of interpretation that God has given him, but he has the power to punish his brothers or provide for them. What's he going to do with his advantage? That's the fourth one. "God, show me the advantages you've given me, and show me why you gave them to me". When people receive advantages but think the purpose for the advantage is so they can call attention to themselves… That's when leaders become toxic. That's when rich people become oppressive. The hard thing sometimes is recognizing the advantage.
Remember when David killed Goliath? The Bible says that after he killed him he took his sword. I always thought that was an illustration of how today's attack can become tomorrow's advantage. "You sold me, for God sent me". The whole time that people were pushing me in a pit, God was preparing me so I could provide with the power he has given me. Maybe the reason you went through the attack is so you could have an advantage. Do you hear me? Just forget I'm talking. Hear this from God. He wanted to say this to you, and he's just using me to do it. Quit calling it an attack. It's an advantage. Quit calling it a weakness, because it is in your weakness that he is strong. Quit being ashamed of it. Quit trying to run from it, hide it, numb it, and cover it up. The attack is the advantage.
Do you know what Paul said? He said, "I am convinced that the sufferings of this present time are not even worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed". I interpret my pain through the lens of God's purpose and my feelings through my faith. So, God, give me the power to interpret. Not just to interpret when I get there, not just to interpret when it's all better, but, God, help me to interpret when I'm in the middle. Joseph spent 20 years with a dream that contradicted everything he was facing in his situation, yet the most frequent line that is repeated in the account of his life is this: "The Lord was with Joseph". That's not something you always feel. That's not something you can always prove. That's not something you always have facts to back up, but I don't need facts; I have faith. I don't need feelings; I have faith. God, I want to interpret my life as it unfolds through the lens that you love me and that you're with me.