Steven Furtick - Taking Control Of Your Mind
Today I am starting a new teaching that is really just a continuation of what I've been teaching. I'm going to talk about the three best questions you can ask in your life only if you're confused, uncomfortable, or uncertain. If you are none of those three things, check your pulse and watch something else. But if you've been asking some questions lately and the answers are slow in coming, God has a word for you. This begins a new teaching today. To introduce it to you, I wanted to show you a video I made with Abbey when I showed her what my next sermon was going to be and I caught her reaction on my iPhone. Check this out.
Steven Furtick: My new sermon series.
Abbey Furtick: Run control? Run control? Run control?
Steven Furtick: Look at it again.
Abbey: Are you in control?
Steven Furtick: What do you think?
Abbey: Oh, my gosh!
Steven Furtick: Do you love it?
Abbey: Oh, my gosh! That's awesome!
Abbey Furtick: Run control? Run control? Run control?
Steven Furtick: Look at it again.
Abbey: Are you in control?
Steven Furtick: What do you think?
Abbey: Oh, my gosh!
Steven Furtick: Do you love it?
Abbey: Oh, my gosh! That's awesome!
It's awesome! Put it on the screen. Let's go. R U N CTRL? Because haven't we kind of wondered that lately? Are you honest? "Are you…"? You don't want to say it like that. You don't want to ask the Lord if he's in control or you're scared he'll give you a lightning bolt or a flat tire or a hemorrhoid or something like that, so you don't really say, "Lord, are you in control"? You just kind of secretly wonder, "Lord, it's still you on the throne up there? Right? They didn't kick you off"? It can make you wonder. Even though we don't really put those words around it, the question we want to talk about today is… Are you in control? I want to write it down just like that. Put it up one more time. R U N CTRL? That's how the Lord gave it to me.
I made a list of questions on my phone. I was like, "I wonder what are the best questions in the Bible," because I got on this trajectory of realizing making progress in your relationship with God usually looks like having less answers and better questions. So how do I know if I'm growing in my relationship with God? Usually, you will know you're growing in your relationship with God and your maturity in this world when you have less answers and better questions, so the way I wanted to give it to you one more time is that I did it like that.
R U N CTRL? It looks like the word run. The Lord showed me there are three questions that are running in the background of your mind all of the time that are determining or driving your state of mind, and to get there we have to go all of the way back to the prison where Paul wrote Philippians. I don't know what my favorite book in the Bible is. We're talking about questions. I had been asked before, "What is your favorite book of the Bible"? I don't know what my favorite is. I don't know if you're supposed to have a favorite book of the Bible, but the most functional for me in the last few years has been the book of Philippians. Of all four chapters in the book of Philippians, the most functional chapter…
What I mean is it has been working for me. It has been working for me. When I ran out of answers, it helped me with my question. I'm going to show you today the three questions. We won't get to all of them today, but we're going to look at three questions that are controlling your life. When I ask the question, "Are you in control"? you're like, "No. God is in control. Let's go home. Let's go eat some pot roast and all of that". You do know that God is in control. You're like, "Is he setting us up or something"? Yes. I'm setting you up, because what I want to know is, if God is in control, why would anybody ever be overweight? If God is in control, why would anybody ever be addicted? If God is in control, why would anybody ever be abused?
You wonder that, too, but you just won't ask it. You don't ask it because you're scared to ask it because you think God is insecure like you are and if you question him he won't have the answer, but God has the answers, so he's not intimidated by your questions. What insults God is when you think he is so small and he has some kind of ego where he can't handle your questions. When you think about that question… I'm so excited to share this with you, because I believe as we get this it's going to be one of those series that I want you to give me all three weeks. I think it's going to take three weeks. Maybe two. Maybe four. Maybe I'll just do it the rest of the year.
When I started asking the question, "Are you in control, God"? I realized it's a complicated answer. Yes, he is sovereign. How can he be so sovereign and I feel so stuck? How can he be so sovereign and some suffer so much? How can he be so sovereign and some struggle so long? Of course, I'm not confident enough in my professional competence to answer that. That's why we're going to Paul in just a moment, but realize… Maybe I can give it to you this way.
Here's the first thing you can write down. God is always in control, but he doesn't always take control. God is always in control, but he doesn't always take control. It's like when I gained 50 pounds in the first 18 months of being married. God never took any macaroni off of my plate. He let me eat as much macaroni as I wanted to eat. I was thinking about eating, and I've said it a few times now, because I'm a little hungry as I preach, to be honest with you, but the real reason I thought of it was portion control. God's not going to control the portion of food you eat or the portion of news that you consume. Are you ready?
He's not going to control the portion of the Bible you read. God will let you watch as many episodes of Outer Banks. Is that the right show? He'll let you watch every episode and not read your Bible one time. God will let you scroll Instagram until you throw up pictures of somebody else's vacation. He won't stop you. He's in control. That doesn't stop you from scrolling. I remember the first time… I felt so pathetic when Instagram told me, "You're all caught up". I was like, "Facebook is trying to save me! They legally have to tell me I've seen this crap already". God doesn't stop you from scrolling. God is always in control, and I'm grateful, but he doesn't always take control.
Isn't that what we really want? A remote-control God who we can tell what to do with other people and from his holy heaven he will make everybody do everything we want them to do? He is not a remote-control God. He is the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us so that his Spirit could live within us. Maybe I could illustrate it this way. For everybody who is confused and uncertain, like Paul was in prison… I came out earlier, and I said, "Let's show them with the cameras to set up this idea of, 'Are you in control?'" In the room right now, there are eight cameras, I think. Maybe more. I don't know how many hidden cameras or security cameras there are, but I think there are eight so that this message can be brought to you in high definition and high fidelity the Word of God in all of its clarity.
Let's say the way it works is there are different cameras I look at. Here's camera one. I think that's Bowser on camera one. Hey, Bowser. He's taking a break from throwing hamburgers at Mario for a minute and running the camera. Jay Bowser everybody. That's called camera one. I don't know if they call it camera one because he's the most important one, but it is right there. If they put a Scripture up, I can see it. It's great! That's camera one. Then, over here on this camera, it's camera four or five or something like that. It doesn't matter. The point is who is running this one today? Abraham. Okay. Abraham. Abraham is over here.
If I go to this camera, you can see me now. I'm looking at the camera. This is the way God gave it to me, like a picture just to make it simple for what we're going to talk about over the next few weeks. If Abraham's camera goes out of focus… Go ahead and make it blurry really quickly. Sometimes this happens as I'm moving around. They have to focus the camera. You can't see me really well, and that's distracting. You're like, "That looks horrible! I was tithing to Elevation, but now I'm going to give it somewhere else. They don't have any money in the equipment". Then, I'm like, "Bowser"! I'm looking at the camera, but nothing changed.
What you have to understand is he's behind the camera, but he's not controlling the camera. Furthermore… Let me come back over here where it's blurry. See how you can't really see it (like how your life feels right now and how your plans feel right now and how your future feels right now and how the outcome of certain things in the United States of America feels right now and how what God is doing in the world feels right now). This is how it has felt for a little while. Bowser is on camera one. "Bowser! Come on, man! Do your job! I'm looking at that camera. Give me that camera," but he can't control that camera. That camera is controlled in another room. The name of the room is the control room.
In the control room is somebody named Chelsea. Chelsea has a headset, and Bowser does not have the capability to switch to that camera without Chelsea saying the following words: "Take it". When Chelsea says, "Take it," there it is in focus. Now, he's on the camera, but he doesn't control the camera. If I'm over here… Make it blurry again. Make it really blurry, Abraham. Make it really blurry. I look over here and say, "Come on, Bowser! Do your job! Come on, Bowser! What's wrong with you? Come on, Bowser! Are you distracted? Come on, Bowser! Did you sleep in today or forget to show up for the run-through? Come on, Bowser! Let's go! Let's go"! I can yell at him all I want, but he's not controlling the camera until Chelsea says, "Take it".
Now, God says, "You can stay in a state of confusion…" Make it blurry, Abraham. "…all you want, and you can complain about me all you want," but God says… God can give you a promise, but until you take it… God can give you peace, but you will feel unclear until you take it. I hear the Spirit of God saying today, "I have given you redemption, restoration, and purpose, but you have to take it". Are you in control? There are three questions in Philippians 1 that I think will help us with our focus. For me, in the last six months, focus has been a matter of survival. For the first week of the global pandemic, I had news stations on all around. I had to turn them off, because I realized if I kept watching their news, I wouldn't be able to preach the good news (the gospel).
I found out why they call it breaking news. Because it will break your brain. Paul is going to talk to us today in a situation where it seems like God is maybe not in control. "Are you in control, God? Because here I am in prison, and here you are sovereign, and here I am stuck". This really helped me. Y'all pray for me that I can read the whole thing with no interruptions. How many believe God will give me the willpower to read all 14 verses and not stop or interrupt? I'm going to prove you wrong. How many of y'all want to chant, "Believe in me"? Say, "I believe in you, pastor. I don't care about these other people. Fire them all! Fire your staff! We believe in you. Believe in Steve".
There we go! Philippians 1:12: "Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result…" He's not. Okay. Just one. He's not focused on the resistance; he's focused on the results. "…it has become clear…" Abraham. "…it has become…" Take it. "…clear…" "…it has become clear…" The situation is uncertain, but my purpose has become clear. "…throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel [the good news] without fear. It is true…"
Somebody say, "Facts". "…that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way…" I've already given you the first question. There are three. I've already given you the first one. See if you can find all three. Two of them are right there in the text, and one is implied. He said, "But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice…"
I'll rejoice in my bathrobe watching church in my living room. I will continue to rejoice. I will rejoice without a job or cut back on hours. I will rejoice even as I wake up in the middle of the night in the middle of a full-blown panic attack. I will praise my way back to sleep. I will breathe my way into peace. "…I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God's provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two…"
I kind of want to get out of here. It's crazy. "…but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith…" Isn't it funny that he calls it progress while he's in prison? He must be measuring something. He must be asking a different question, and he does not give them any of the answers they would have asked for, because I'm going to tell you what they wanted to know. When are you getting out? The church at Philippi is like your kids in the car. All they want to know is, "Are we there yet"? How many think that's the second most annoying question your kids ask?
You're like, "Well, what's the first"? For me, "Do we have to? Do I have to"? I feel the spirit of slap-your-tongue-out-of-your-mouth coming. "Do I have to unload the dishwasher"? Okay. No. You don't have to. I will rip the dishwasher out and throw it in the yard. You can wash it all by hand. Then, after that, your Mom will cook for me, and you will watch. You don't have to. I used to hate it when staff members would say, "Do we have to come? Do we have to come to Saturday night service"? Sometimes the Lord just has to take stuff away for a minute for you to appreciate it to get it back. "Do I have to be there"? Now, it's like, "God, can I please come! Can I please"? That happens. That happens in our lives.
The Lord was telling me there are some really bad questions that I ask, questions that either he doesn't want me to know… My mom used to always say, "If I had wanted you to know I would have told you". The way Paul started the text… Go back to verse 12 really quickly. He said, "Now I want you to know…" Then, he doesn't tell them what they want to know. "When are you getting out"? He tells them what he wants them to know. That's like God. He tells you what he wants you to know. God controls the flow of information to our lives, and he doesn't owe us an explanation for everything. My amens are fading fast. My amens are fading fast. My amens are shutting down right now. I feel like I'm going to have to come over here and preach this to Jenna.
Now, Jenna, I specifically asked if you could be out on the stage today, because I was watching you worship the other day, and I realized you are an example of someone who never really asks for the spotlight. That blessed me. It blessed me because a lot of singers want to know, "When am I going to get to…"? It's a dumb question. I realized the better question isn't, "When am I going to get credit"? It is, "What is God calling me to do"? Now, when God does not give you an answer… How many of you are waiting for an answer from God about something in your life right now? Okay. If he won't give you the answer, ask him for a better question.
Do you want an example of this? When Moses asked God in Exodus, chapter 4, verse 1… You remember. He is called by God. We discussed Moses a couple of weeks ago. I kind of finished my sermon talking about Moses and how the proof you have it in you is that he asked you to do it, because he won't ask anything of you that he didn't first put in you. I'm just reminding you of that. Remember, the first thing Moses said was, "What if they do not believe me"? talking about the Israelites. Now, let's isolate those three words. "What if they…" That's a bad question. Any time your question revolves around other people it is outside of the realm of your sovereign control. "What if they…" I don't care what you say next. You can't control it. "What if they…" is a bad question. Watch what God does. He answers Moses' question with a question, but it's an upgrade.
When I saw this, I shouted. Are you ready? Moses said, "What if they…" Look at verse 2. "Then the Lord said to him, 'What is that…?'" Let's go. Moses said, "What if they…" God said, "What is that…"? Moses is asking about what he can't control. He's asking about a hypothetical scenario that involves others, and God says, "What is that in your hand"? God will always point you to what is at hand, and the more your questions revolve around hypothetical situations that haven't happened and may not happen the longer you are going to stand in the absence of an answer which you will mistake for the absence of God, but God asked a better question. It's not, "What if they…" It's, "What is that"?
When you focus on what God has given you… I love this. I spent so much time asking the question, "What if they"? or "What if that"? or "What if this"? but God says, "I have already given you a that no matter what they do". That's an example of what I'm talking about with the power of a better question. The proof of my progress in my relationship with God is I have less answers and better questions. The three questions that are always running in your mind are…What does it matter, what does it mean, and what shall I choose? All three are in the text. I'll be honest with you.
The first one caught me off guard when I was just minding my own business preaching Philippians 1. I was standing on this stage. I will never forget it. I was standing on stage. I didn't study for it or anything. I was just reading through it. There is some really good stuff in the book of Philippians, some really famous verses. "…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus". That's a great verse. One of them we read… "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain". How about this one? "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father".
These are the famous verses in Philippians, and they're good. I always thought those were the most important verses of the whole thing, and there are some other ones, too, that you know. You know these verses. "…I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize…" How many times have you heard that on New Year's Eve or something like that? "Forgetting what is behind…" Forget the past. Press toward what is ahead. "I can do all this through him who gives me strength". Great verses in Philippians. "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory…"
All of those verses I love. The one that jumped up and bit me was in verse 18 of chapter 1 where Paul says, "…what does it matter"? The Lord arrested me in the middle of my sermon. I was trying to get to another verse, and the Lord said, "Stop right there". If you get that question wrong, nothing else matters. "…what does it matter"? Then, if you drop down a little bit to verse 22, Paul says, "If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me". What does it mean? Then, he asks a question you wouldn't think he's in any position to consider. "…what shall I choose"? I love it, because Paul is such a control freak, and so am I.
I almost called this message, and maybe I'll put it on the thumbnail to get some clickbait and get some people saved on the YouTube channel, Confessions of a Control Freak. I'm reading Philippians, and I'm just going along, and I'm like, "Paul is so used to calling the shots he doesn't realize he's not going to get to be in charge this time". He's like, "I've been thinking about it. I might want to stay". Caesar is going to make that decision, buddy. He's like, "No, no, no! It's the wrong question. I'm not talking about whether or not I'm going to get out of the situation. I'm talking about what God is doing in the midst of it".
The moment you take control of the answer to these three questions, and here they are again… What does it matter? What does it mean? What shall I choose? You have to say shall because it puts a little King James authority on it. What shall I choose? I'm telling you. God doesn't control everything. He gives you choice. Holly said last week that the word rejoice comes in the book of Philippians how many times? Do you remember? It's 16 times (joy and rejoice). I thought the theme of the book of Philippians was joy, but I found out it's really freedom. He is still in control of his soul's state even though he can change nothing about his circumstance.
The Lord told me to preach it because these three questions are running your life in a back room. What's showing up on the screen right now is because somebody is on a camera, but the one who is on the camera is not controlling it. It doesn't start where you see it. You see it on the screen. It doesn't start on the screen. That camera has to capture this message and send it out, but he doesn't control it. The way the Lord showed me this was like, "This is like your feelings or your state of mind or your thoughts".
Bowser, you're not God in the analogy. You're just my thoughts. Chelsea is my questions. Every thought I have started with a question. If I ask a bad question… This is the worst question: What's wrong with me? That is probably the most frequently asked question. If you were to do a lobotomy of Steven Furtick's FAQ that I ask myself over and over again… "What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you"? Let me tell you what happens when you ask that question. That question will attract a million answers because the Devil has a list ready. Oh, my God! That is the most magnetic question in the universe.
The moment you say, "What is wrong with me?" here comes every demon from the time that you were conscious, and they will line up with a list. "What's wrong with you? Okay. Where do you want me to start? Let's start with your physical appearance. Okay". It's the wrong question. How many of y'all are like me? "What's wrong with me? What's my problem? How could I be so stupid, so stupid, so stupid"? The Devil is like, "I can tell you how you can be so stupid. Your dad was stupid". The Devil has a list. He'll show you everything from your genetics to your jawline, but your questions direct the integrity of your thoughts.
When Paul asks in Philippians 1:18, "…what does it matter"? he is setting the direction of his thoughts by controlling the focus of his priorities. What does it matter? In his case, he's talking about some people who are using his uniquely vulnerable situation as an apostle who is in chains to capitalize on the situation. He's like, "It doesn't matter". I want to go, "Yes, it does," because there's something in me that always wants to… I'm really quick to get offended. I'm just getting it out there and telling you like it is. It's easier to preach when I'm not up here hiding stuff from you. I am quick to get offended, and I found out offense blocks my flow.
I don't like it. I don't like it. I kind of wished I would have talked to Paul sooner, because he could have saved me so much time if he would have taught me that human opinion doesn't matter as much as I think it does. It really changes through the years. When you're in middle school, this is your biggest question about everything from how you dress to what you say to what you don't say. "How can I fit in"? Then, you go to apply for college. They're going to teach you how to put something on your application so you can stand out. "I don't know what to do! The questions are changing".
When I started the church, it was like, "How can I get people here"? Then, people started coming, and I was like, "How can I keep doing this over and over again so I don't let anybody down"? The questions are shifting, but I want you to notice that before he can get into what it means about what you're going through and where is God in my situation… "God, what do you want me to do"? The first question is…What does it matter? What does it matter? I get so distracted. I get so distracted. My focus gets so broken. It's actually even hard for me to sometimes look around the room when I'm preaching, because if somebody looks like…
I remember one time a guy looked really mad when I was preaching. It put me in an anger vibe. I started pulling out Bible verses about wrath and judgment and the second death. I didn't even know I knew those verses. I was just going for it. They got word to me later. They said, "That man was going through a divorce". I said, "Oh, okay! So I misinterpreted the situation," because I was asking the wrong question. I was looking at him going, "Why does he hate me"? Really, he hated his situation. I asked the wrong question. I was starting with them. "Why do they always…"? You know it's a bad question when it includes the word always. "Why do they always…"? They don't always. Nobody always.
My theology is better than my grammar. Nobody always does anything, so the question starts with, "…what does it matter"? This is where you have to…write this phrase down…decide your distractions. Decide your distractions. To realize in this moment the only thing that matters to me is that you connect to God and get the word that he has for you. I will do anything to get it across. I'll do camera tricks and camera angles. I'll run around the stage. I would do anything to get it across because I have come past the point in my ministry now of thinking the goal is to be impressive. The goal is not for me to impress you. It is to connect you to heaven. If I connect you to heaven, the ministry will flow through me, and all of our needs will be met, but it takes you a little while to find out what matters, and usually you don't even realize how much it matters until after it happened. Isn't that sad?
You think the wrong thing matters until after it's over. Then you realize it wasn't really that important. It really wasn't that important. I'm asking God to help me decide in advance what my distractions are. Here's what Paul taught me. Not every disruption is a distraction. Remember, this is the apostle that is taking the gospel to the world, planting churches, and all that progress has stopped…apparently. Paul said, "Actually, the gospel is moving forward". He decided what mattered. Did you or did you outsource your priorities to a broken world who doesn't know its right from its left or its up from its down? What does it matter? What does it matter?
I wish I would have talked to Paul sooner. It would have been so good. I wouldn't have tried to chase people to get them to like me because I would have realized it's not really what they think about me that matters. If I would have talked to Paul sooner, I could have realized a human opinion is nothing compared to a divine seal. When God puts his seal of ownership on you, people can think what they want and say what they want. I'm just telling you if I would have talked to Paul sooner… I didn't know, and because I didn't know I got petty. I got petty. I got jealous. I got worked up. I got freaked out. I thought, "Oh, God"! If we could have talked to Paul when we were starting the church, how much time could we have saved worrying about stuff that didn't matter?
Y'all, I got so possessed by this verse a couple of years ago I made bracelets for the whole church. Instead of WWJD, I made a WDIM (what does it matter) bracelet, but do you know what? It's not if it's on a bracelet. It's in your brain. It is your thoughts, and I'm still asking it. Does it really matter? Does it really matter? Somebody told me you should the day and decade test. I was like, "What is that"? They were like, "Well, if it won't matter in a day or in a decade, don't worry about it". That didn't help me too much, but here's what did help me. I didn't really get what they were trying to say, but here's what did help me. I did some flashbacks to stuff that frustrated me so badly and to some stuff that had me so afraid that never happened.
As I was doing those flashbacks and realizing God's faithfulness, it was an exercise for me. It was an exercise in asking a better question. The question, "What does it matter"? will eliminate 95 percent of my prayer requests. Just by asking God, "Give me your priorities," it will direct my resources, but it will start with the question. It is a clarifying question. Make it blurry, Abraham. Come on, Abraham. You remember Abraham and Sarah in the Bible. This is kind of crazy. In Genesis 18, Sarah was laughing because God said that she was going to have a baby. This is Genesis 18:12. It says, "So Sarah laughed to herself…" She didn't LOL. She LTH. Do you see it in the Scripture? She laughed to herself. Look at this. She said, "After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure"? "I don't see how this could happen now"!
Then, the Lord said to Abraham, "Take it". Why did Sarah laugh and say, "Will I really have a child now that I am old"? Here's a better question. "Is anything too hard for the Lord"? Do you see how that clarified it? You don't need an answer. You need to quit caring about stupid stuff! Because I can worry about some stupid stuff. I can worry about some stupid stuff like how and when and what are they going to say? That's what Paul was saying. It really doesn't matter what their motive is; it matters what God's purpose is. If it is God's purpose in my life being accomplished, it doesn't matter. I feel something on this. Say, "I have too much purpose to be petty. I have too much purpose to be petty. I have too much purpose to be petty".
Who wants to keep pace with me? Are you ready? He said, "I am put here for the defense of the gospel". Let's talk about that phrase. Who put this table here? You don't even know. What was it put it here for? That's the important thing. Yeah! It was put here so I could preach. Write this down. Who put it here isn't as important as why it was put here. When Paul says, "I am put here for the defense of the gospel," he could have just as easily said, "I was put here by Caesar because Rome is so wicked," but he didn't say any of that. He said, "Rome might be the reason I got here from a human standpoint…"
This is for anybody who is trying to figure out why this happened and why that happened. That is a bad question. The better question is, "God, what are you doing right now in my life"? Not, "How long are you going to leave me here"? You notice Paul didn't ask that one time. "How long is God going to leave me here"? Instead, he asked the question, "What am I put here for"? I wonder what would happen if you asked that about your life. "What was I put here for"? Not, "Who was I put here by"? That's going to make you bitter, because you're going to start blaming people. You're going to start blaming people who didn't support you. You're going to start blaming people who didn't encourage you. You're going to start blaming people who should have been there for you. What you were put here for matters more than who you were put here by. I don't know. I just feel like God is anointing this message.
God said, "Put a shrug emoji in the chat". He said, "That is the official emoji of heaven over most of the stuff you're stressed about". The Lord said, "I need you to make an I-don't-care list," a list of, "I'm going to quit caring about this so I can focus on that," because I cannot care about everything. You know that. Right? You know you were not designed to care about everything. "Well, if you don't watch the news all of the time how are you going to be informed"? My sanity matters more than my being informed. Talk to me, back row. Talk to me, back row. I'm going to tell you another thing Holly said last week. She said, "Are you trying to prove your point or are you trying to keep the relationship"?
Paul said, "It doesn't matter what their motive is. It matters what God's mission is". You have to decide in your life. You have to decide what is going to matter to you. What is going to matter to you in this season? What is going to matter to you in this moment? You might have to come back to that a thousand times. I'm telling you. Sometimes I just have to do this over and over and over again. I have a flip phone. I don't have a Sidekick. It's not some sketchy thing like that. I have a flip phone, because sometimes I just can't care about and process everything all of the time, because it matters more to me to be available to God than accessible to everyone else, so I just can't care about everything. What does it matter?
People sometimes ask me, "Did you see what they said"? I'm like, "Nope". They're like, "Do you want to know"? "Nope". "I saw this thing about you. Do you want to hear"? "No. I don't want to hear". Ctrl+Alt+Del. Ctrl+Alt+Del. It's a spiritual command function. Right? Ctrl+Alt+Del. I have to change some priorities if I am going to expect God's resources, and they are connected. When Paul says, "I expect that through your prayers and the provision of God's Spirit that what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance," that doesn't happen unless he correctly answers the question, "What does it matter"? What does it matter the stupid stuff? It set me free because I used to think I'd embarrass myself. I'd be like, "Oh, man! I said this or that. I'm embarrassed". They don't care.
People are paying way too much attention to themselves to care about anything you mispronounced or said wrong. It's true. The greatest way for you to stop being so self-centered is to realize how self-centered everybody else is. Everybody is walking around going, "God, I can't believe I said that," like they're going home and studying the Scripture of what you said. What does it matter? I preached one week, and my button was undone. I didn't realize my button was undone. I bet I stressed about that for three days, like the button police were watching my YouTube. How stupid is that? Here I am preaching the Bible telling people that Jesus Christ is Lord and sovereign, and I'm stuck on a button.
Now, y'all are looking awfully judgmental. I bet you've gotten stuck on some stuff. God said he will not control everything. He will not control your priorities. You will. You will decide what matters to you. What does it matter? What does it matter? Everything else is a distraction. What does it matter? I'm so overflowing with things to tell you about this. Yet, it would be irresponsible for me to not tell you that can work both ways. Just like you care too much about some stuff there is some other stuff you don't care enough about. For Paul, he had it clear. Remember, he said, "It's clear to me the important thing is Christ is preached". The good news. The gospel. Purpose. All of that stuff.
Well, I think if the Devil can't distract you he'll discourage you. I don't think he really cares how he takes you out. He just doesn't want you to know why you're here. In my study of the Scripture, Paul's attitude reminded me a little of another prophet from the Old Testament called Elijah. He was a really powerful dude, but he had a lot of insecurities, I think, and I think that because it manifested in him tending to perform well in public but to have problematic conversations and ask the wrong questions in private. I don't know if you can relate to this, but he looked really good on the outside. He looked really amazing on the outside, and he looked really powerful on the outside, but there is a Scripture that was playing in my head, and I couldn't figure out why I kept thinking about it until I realized, just like you need to ask, "What does it matter?" about some certain things and push them to the side in this season of your life…
And I would ask that. What do you need to push to the side ("That doesn't matter, and that doesn't matter, and that doesn't matter") to make room for the things that do? There are also some times when the Devil will try to convince you that something doesn't matter that actually really does, like when Elijah called down fire on Mount Carmel and the false prophets were all put to death with the sword. You may know this story or you may not. It really doesn't matter if you know all of the details. There was one specific moment that was really on my heart to talk to you about because he went all alone after this great victory in his life. He went to a cave, and he spent the night in a cave, and the voice of the Lord came to him in the cave.
You have to remember the Lord didn't really shout. He whispered. A lot of times the Lord will be like a whisper. He'll be like a whisper. He's not a remote-control God. He's an up-close God, so he'll be like a whisper. The question he asked Elijah not with a lot of decibels but with a lot of clarity was, "What are you doing here"? What Elijah said next reflects where his heart was. He said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant and torn down your altars and put your prophets to death at the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too".
I hear in his response the words of a man who has done all that he can do and has come to the conclusion that none of it matters. I hear a man who is at the end of his energy and who has given everything he can for the people he served. I hear him, almost like the opposite of Paul, saying, "What does it matter? It's never going to get better. It doesn't matter. Why even try"? Do you remember when I preached I'm Tired of Trying? I heard Elijah saying that. "I'm sick of this. It's outside of my control. I'm done. I'm drained. I'm the only one left". The irony of it is that he had enough faith for his words to control the weather system. He had enough faith to command the drought, but the question that would bring him out of depression is the question you must ask. "What am I doing here"?
Paul asked that question, and he decided, "I'm here for a purpose". That's a decision. That's an interpretation. That is not a fact on the surface. That is a product of his faith. He decided that. He decided that. He could have said, "I'm here because it's unfair. I'm here because the system is broken," but focusing on what is broken will never set you free. I'm going to say it again. Focusing on what is broken will never set you free, so as long as your question is, "Why did they"? and "When will they"? and "How will they"? God said, "What is that? What have I called you to do"?
What has God called me to do? What has God given me in this season that can't be taken away? What can I control? What can I speak? What can I activate? How can I move it forward? What are the advantages? "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine who dares to defy the armies of the living God"? They saw Goliath and said, "How can we kill him? He's big"! David said, "How can we miss him? He's big". All you have to do… Listen to me, child of God. All you have to do is change the question even if you don't know all of the answers. I feel like preaching, because God said, "No. I'm not going to give you an answer. I'm going to give you a better question". What are you doing here, you mighty man of valor? What are you doing here, you unique daughter of God? What are you doing in this place after you have seen me time and time again roll back the heavens and the sky and come down and crush your enemies? What are you doing here?
He really wasn't running from Jezebel, who threatened his life. He was running from himself because he had gotten the question wrong. If the Devil can't distract you, he'll discourage you. I want to minister to the distracted people today and tell you that some stuff doesn't matter as much as you think it does, but I want to talk to some discouraged people today. Do you reckon Paul knew we would make bumper stickers out of stuff he wrote in prison? He didn't even know how much it mattered, and neither do you, so stop waiting on your 7-year-old to tell you, "You are a father who is leaving a legacy, and everything you are doing for me is good seed, and if you train me up in the way I should go, when I am old I will not depart from it". You won't know how much it matters until after, so you have to control your focus now.
As we minister this Word to you today, I wonder, has the Enemy got you in a place where you've started to believe, "I don't matter"? I rebuke the spirit of rejection off of your life right now in this moment by the power vested in me by the gospel of Jesus Christ. I minister to you that you matter so much. You might not even know how much you matter until after, but you have to have faith to believe it right now. With everyone standing and your heads bowed and your eyes closed, I want you to realize that some of the stuff you think matters so much doesn't actually matter. I want you to get your brain back so you can enjoy some things. I want you not to take it personally when people take out their pain on you. I want you to stop thinking everything you're missing is a mistake.
Listen to me, child of God. Some things God leaves out on purpose. Paul said, "I was put here on purpose. I know what I'm doing here because I decided that. I decided that. Everything else is a distraction". Paul said, "I know what's important. My peace is more important. My joy is more important. I am not going to let anything distract me from what matters". Now, these questions are running in your mind all of the time, and we're going to talk about them in the next few weeks as we continue to minister this message to you. You have assumed that maybe God is not working in your life or he doesn't see you in your situation or maybe you have made a mistake so bad that he can't use you anymore. That's all a lie, and the past doesn't matter. You're in the presence of God now.
I'm going to tell you something about him. He can take things that happened to you. He can take the time you think you lost, and he is a multiplier, and he can give it back to you, but you have to take it. Just like she tells the camera operator, "Take it," I hear the Lord saying, "I want you to have peace, but you have to take it. If your mind is on the things that don't matter in this season, you're going to be so distracted. Oh, God! It's going to destroy you, but my peace is available to you". What are you doing here? You never thought you'd be here. You certainly have never been here before. What are you doing here? Paul said, "I decided I'm here for Christ".
What if you decided that? How amazing would the shift be? Can you imagine if you just decided, "I'm here for Christ"? If you just started asking, "God, what are you doing in my life right now? God, I can't control all of the input, but God, I can control my response, so, Lord, here's my life. Here's my little prison cell. Here's my little limitation. What is that in your hand? It matters. It matters what you say. It matters what you believe. It matters what you take in. It matters what you meditate on. It matters. Every second of your life in every season of your life you're answering the question, "What does it matter"? To every thought that has told you lately that it doesn't matter and nobody would miss you in the world, it's all a distraction. The Devil doesn't want you to know that what is inside of you is so much greater than what is against you. "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine"?
Father, I come into agreement with each person today to realize the infinite significance of their life, that Jesus Christ would die for them. How much they matter? Your blood told me that once and for all. How much they matter? Enough for you to make them unique and custom designed and custom tailored. Thank you, Lord! I am put here for a purpose. Today, we speak to each situation. In fact, Holy Spirit, I want to give you just a moment to give them a better question. Instead of, "Why did this happen to me"? and, "Why does this always happen to me" make it, "What can you do through it"? As you shift these questions, we expect a release from heaven in our lives. We thank you, Lord, that your invitation stands open for us. If we ask, we will receive. In Jesus' name, amen.
The power of a better question. Give God praise in the place if you received his Word. Come on! Give him praise on every location large or small. Why not just offer God this space? Why not just offer him a praise? Come on! He inhabits the praises of his people. He will set up shop anywhere there is worship. Thank you, Lord! How many are ready for some better questions? What does it matter? What does it mean? What shall I choose?