Steven Furtick - Thought Bubbles
It's weird preaching, because I'm always playing this game while I'm talking. Y'all can be seated, by the way. I'm going to jump into this part 2 of what I started last week, a continuation. Let's keep it going. I've heard so many testimonies of people remembering who they are in Christ. Everybody in here, get ready, because we have a job to do today. I'm just reminding you: I only want faith in this room right now. There's enough fear everywhere else. Somebody has something going on in their life, and we're going to join together and minister. It's weird when I scan people.
I have this bad habit where I draw thought bubbles when I'm looking at people's faces, and I make up all this stuff people are thinking. I can't do that with you because I can't see you. It's kind of nice. I can picture you any way I want. But when people are in the room, sometimes it's surprising how their faces look. I don't always mean in a bad way. Every once in a while, I will see somebody who's very reserved, and they'll be up shouting me down while I'm preaching. I'm like, "Oh, you needed that point". Don't shout too much. People will know your business. I know exactly what some people are thinking because I know them.
Chris is back there. I'll draw a thought bubble over his head, and I'll look at him and know he's thinking, "That would be a good song lyric". When he's writing all that stuff down, he's just multitasking. He's just writing down song lyrics, grocery list, all of it. How many multitask when you listen to a message? All right. Stop that. Just one thing at a time. Focus. I know exactly what Holly is thinking. "How can he be so anointed and so attractive? That's my man. He's a messenger, but he's my messenger". She's thinking, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news".
Did I get it close? My son Elijah, my firstborn, is always thinking, "Is he going to say the part where…"? Because he's the only one I tell my messages to before I preach them. Somehow, we get on the same frequency. He'll get it before I even say it. It's weird. He'll just be on it before I even say it. It's like we're connected or something. It's amazing. And then he's probably thinking about making a beat too, but he's mostly thinking, "Is he going to say the part that he told me"? Larry Brey is thinking, "How am I going to rip this off and teach it to the campus pastors"? Am I right about it?
I heard him ripping my message from last week off on a conference call with our staff. It was the supervisors in our church, and he preached it better than I did. He took that little one talent of a message that I preached and multiplied it to two, four. I was taking notes, and I was like, "Well, now I'm going to preach another part". We were talking about I'm Not What I Thought. You can be a wonderful person but have a terrible thought. You can be a sane person but have a crazy thought. You can be a happy person and have a depressing thought. When we separate ourselves from our thoughts, it's kind of like Isaiah 55 where God says, "As high as the heavens are above the earth, so are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts".
I want more God thoughts in my life…thoughts that come from God, thoughts that lead to God. I mean, let's be honest. The signal-to-noise ratio is out of control in our world today. There is a famine for the Word of God, words of peace, comfort, love, joy, and encouragement. My buddy called me yesterday and said, "You've got to keep on preaching from another place". He has been watching me preach for 10 years. He said, "God knows how much his people are needing right now, and you need to allow it to flow through you". I said, "You're right. Pray for me about that". People need faith, and I don't have it. I need God to do it in me and then speak it through me for you.
So, this week, I want to talk about Thought Bubbles. What if I could see what you're thinking right now? First of all, would you still have a job? Would you still be married? You know, the things you think, the things you never mention, the things that make you miserable, the things you think about that you would like to really embrace, but to be honest, it's hard for you to sometimes think… We say "think outside the box," but it's also hard to think outside the bubble. I'm looking at the room today, and I can't see you, and I wonder, if I was drawing a thought bubble over your head, if I could see it how God sees what's really going on…
How many know there's a difference between a dialogue box…? I'm thinking of the old cartoons. I'm thinking of Calvin and Hobbes, specifically. I'm thinking about how some things are best left in the bubble. Let me break that down. Just because you think it doesn't mean you have to say it. Some things are best left in the bubble. I'll tell you another thing (and I'm going to show you this from Mark, chapter 5, the same story we were in last weekend): you don't have to believe everything you think. Are you ready?
Let's talk about Thought Bubbles. Remember that the woman with the issue of blood is no longer called that, not from God's perspective. That's not how God thought of her. The way we talk about ourselves isn't how God thinks of us either. God doesn't categorize us…I hate to break this to you…by ethnicity. In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female. That doesn't mean we're not different. That means our core identity is not determined by something external. In Christ, I have a new nature. In Christ, I have infinite possibility. But my thoughts… Have you ever noticed how you often get stuck in your head so you can never really receive what heaven has to speak? You live under an open heaven, but you have a closed mind.
Let's go to Mark, chapter 5, where the woman formerly known as the woman with the issue of blood… The artist formerly known as the woman with the issue of blood, now known as a daughter of God. It just blew my mind that I've always read about this woman's persistence… She pressed through the crowd to get to Jesus. I've always studied about her intention. "If I can just touch the edge of his garment…" I think all of that is important, but I never realized it was about her identity. The Bible says she set her intention and she took action. In verse 28, it says she was healed, first of all, because she thought. I know you've already watched the sermon five times since last weekend because you love the Word of God, and you memorized Philippians 2, but just for those who haven't had the time, it said she was healed because she thought.
I always thought she was healed because she touched. And she was. When she touched him, it represented faith. But there are two parts of faith. The flip side of works on faith starts with a thought. People will say, "Follow your feelings". That would be a bad idea for 98 percent of us, a really bad idea for 98 percent of us. It would lead to violence, poverty, weirdness, and other stuff we can't talk about in church, but we'll talk about it sometime. "Follow your feelings". I want to say that a little differently. If you follow your feeling back to the thought that created it, if you follow your feelings backward, a lot of times you can find that it starts with how you think about God, how you think about you, how you think about your season, and how you define a blessing.
She thought she got what she came for, but Jesus was working off of a different blueprint. After the issue she came for… We come to God for many different reasons, but a lot of times, the reason we come to God isn't the reason he called us. He said, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways aren't your ways". God thinks higher. A lot of the things in my life start with the phrase "I never would have thought…" I don't know if she knew it, but Joanna was preaching today. She helps us on our staff, and she said, "I never would have thought we'd be in an auditorium with just the staff preaching the church".
Well, I never thought it either. This is the year of "I never would have thought…" Go back through your phone. Fifty percent of your texts are things you never would have thought you'd be sending. You never would have thought you'd be buying the kid a new computer, not so they could play games on it but so it could be a classroom. You never would have thought that. The woman never would have thought that on the way… This is the woman we call the woman with the issue of blood. She never would have thought that on the way to heal Jairus' daughter, the important synagogue official, the person who we would think was the priority, that Jesus would call her "daughter". She never thought of herself as a daughter. Now, the way you think of yourself determines what you will do and what you won't do.
Remember, this is kind of a review from last week. If you think of yourself primarily in terms of your position, that's limiting. I didn't get to tell you this last week, but I told the campus pastors. When I was at the ball field a couple of years ago… When I'm at the ball field I'm a different… I'm not a different person. I don't have multiple personalities or anything like that. I'm a very nice person in most situations, but at the ball field… People can call it wearing different hats or different roles. There's one you, but there are many roles, many manifestations of you at any moment. Just before I came out to preach to you, I was being dad, and I enjoyed that.
So, when I would go out to the ball field, the ump would make a bad call, and, you know, I have a good loud voice God gave me to preach and to help people… One of my kids got called out, and he wasn't out, and I had it on video. This was several years ago, back when we played at Mint Hill. I came out with the phone and showed the umpire. I know you're not supposed to do this, but I said, "Hey, Mr. Ump". I wasn't mean. I was very polite. I said, "I got it on video. The call was bad. You need to reverse the call. This is an instant replay booth. Come on. Just watch this real quick. I got it. I'll put it in slow motion for you".
I didn't yell at him or anything like that, but one of the other dads thought it was cute when I came back over… The ump didn't reverse the call; he told me to get off the field, and then when I came back over, the guy said, "Careful, Furtick. You're supposed to be a pastor". You know what I said back. "Right now I'm a dad". Wouldn't it be great if every single one of your roles worked together perfectly to complement one another? People will say, "Just be you". Which one? The one who has to bite their tongue or the one who's allowed to be honest? Which one? The one who keeps it real?
Well, keeping it real will maybe keep you unemployed and single if you're bursting every thought bubble, saying everything you think, just being everything you are. You have to know what's appropriate to the role and the situation, but there comes a time where something in your life will drive you to a point where you will come outside of the confines of what you thought you were, and you will embrace something you never knew you needed. Like the woman with the issue who became the only person Jesus ever called "Daughter". "I'm a daughter. I'm a son". If I did it for myself, "I'm a dad. I'm a pastor. I'm a songwriter. I'm an author".
Some of these things I don't even like to say like that because it misses the point. I'm not a songwriter; I write songs. I'm not an author; I sometimes write books. Sometimes. Every 10 years I write a book. "You're supposed to be a pastor". I'm also supposed to be a parent. Sometimes it's difficult, because I find myself in roles… I promise you I'm going to read the Bible verses in a minute, but I am preaching already. Just because it didn't come up on the screen yet doesn't mean I'm not preaching it. You categorize stuff too weird in your mind. You're like, "He's not preaching the…" I am totally preaching the Word of God!
Jairus was a campus pastor at Elevation…I mean, a synagogue ruler, but he was also a dad. He had a daughter, and he's no longer a campus pastor preaching a sermon or making phone calls or a worship leader or a piano player or a drummer. He's a dad in this moment, and he said, "Heal my daughter. I need you"! Desperation will drive you to see yourself differently, to lift the limits. I want to look at this one more time, because the woman thought, "If I touch him, I will be healed," and she was, and he called her back and gave her the miracle of a restored identity. That's not so catchy. Right? But that's what it was: the miracle of remembering who you were before your issue consumed you.
You go through things and you forget who you are. You think you're what you have accomplished. But what if God wants to reveal something that goes beyond your résumé? The ability to navigate all of the different names I'm called by comes from knowing who I really am beneath all of the layers. She thought, she touched, and then she heard from Jesus, "Daughter". What an amazing thing, yet the text begs to be picked up at verse 35, because Jairus, who asked Jesus to heal his daughter… At the same moment that the woman was delivered from her issue, he was devastated. As she was being restored as a daughter, his own daughter died.
I want to pick up right there in Mark 5:35. The Bible says, while Jesus was still speaking to the woman, telling her who she really was… "Daughter". Look at it in verse 34. He called her "Daughter". Sorry, Eddie Vedder, but he did. He called her "Daughter". (Come on. I have to have fun up here. It's lonely up here.) As he's calling her "Daughter" and reminding her of who she was, Jairus, the synagogue official, the man who had often been identified by his position, who was supposed to be a pastor, but right now he's a parent… Her deliverance led to his disappointment. Sometimes those two go together. Sometimes to deliver you God has to do it through a disappointment. He will allow people to let you down to bring you things you didn't know to pray for.
You know how we quote Ephesians 3:20? "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…" Why do we always think that more is going to be bigger? Sometimes more is deeper. So, while he's calling her "Daughter…" He said, "Daughter, go in peace". See, she left with healing, but he wanted her to leave with peace. Peace only comes from knowing who you are. Peace can't come from possessions. Peace can't come from positions. Peace can only come from knowing who I am. Purpose…that's where peace comes from…what God put me here for. While he was still speaking, while she was being delivered from her issue, Jairus was devastated.
The Bible says in verse 35: "…some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader". What's it called when you put something in between the commas that you could take out of the sentence? I'm not good at grammar. An appositive? So, just connect these two. Everything is connected. She's receiving something positive, and he's losing something priceless, yet he's still being identified by his position. Jairus, the synagogue ruler, but today he's not a CEO. Today he's a dad with a broken heart. Let's talk just you and me for a minute. Let's pretend to be friends. I'm sure we would be. I'm sure you would love me if you knew me and I would love you too. I know you're amazing, but let me get out of preacher mode for a moment and just talk to you like a dad or like a brother or like a friend or something like that.
What is the thing you thought God was going to do and the opposite happened? The opposite. I don't mean about a parking space. I'm trying to go a little bit beneath the surface. This whole year… How many of you predicted this year going exactly…? Yeah. How many of you, everything that was on your resolution list is right on schedule? I want to meet you, and I want you to lay hands on me, and I want you to transfer that anointing to me. His position, the synagogue ruler… The woman is restored to her rightful identity. His position is irrelevant because it really doesn't matter what title you have in moments like this. He thought Jesus was going to heal her. What else would he have thought? Jesus was on the way. The crowd is around.
I'm thinking he thought he was going to get his daughter healed, but Jesus stopped for another forgotten daughter, and in the process of restoring that daughter, he lost his daughter. Do you see it? He lost his 12-year-old daughter to a woman who for 12 years had been consumed by an issue. There's a trade-off. She got her miracle; he didn't. What happens next… This is where I want to start my sermon. The Bible says, "…some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader". That's the appositive. "'Your daughter is dead,' they said. 'Why bother the teacher anymore?'" I bet if I could see your thought bubble, a lot of it would say, "Why bother"? Or a less G-rated version of that. Right? Why even bother? Like, what's the point? Why even put anything on the calendar these days? Why even try right now? Why bother? What's the point?
I have to show you something. Are you ready? I'm back full in preacher mode now. I'm a preacher right now. "Why bother the teacher anymore"? That was what was in their bubble. They said it out loud. The thing about Jesus is he can read your thoughts. He can see not only what you say, but he can pop your thought bubble and know what's really in your heart. I want to talk about thought bubbles today. Jesus overheard what they said and told Jairus, "Don't be afraid; just believe". It depends on how you hear that, whether you hear it as being something that he said as a cliché or whether you hear it as something that he said to keep Jairus' faith alive in the moment. It was about to die, because there's a crowd around. He's hearing all of these voices. "Why bother? Why bother"? And so are you. Conspiracy theories… Some of y'all eat conspiracy theories for breakfast. I'm telling you, it's a terrible time to try to listen to the crowd.
Now this is amazing. When I saw it in the text, I got so excited. Not only did Jesus do the first contact tracing when he said, "Who touched me"? when he felt a contact with the woman with the issue of blood, but Jesus… Watch this. Verse 37: "He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James". Long before the NBA had a bubble… My dumb self. Do you know how dumb I am? When they said they're putting the NBA in a bubble, I thought of SpongeBob. That's how dumb I am. For five seconds, I thought they were… Did you think that too? You won't admit it. I bet if I could see your thought bubbles, you didn't know either.
Well, Jesus knew something very important, that sometimes there is a benefit to a bubble. Not everything belongs outside the bubble. Ask Joseph. He told his brothers, "Hey, man, God showed you something". His brothers busted his bubble so quickly. They threw him in a pit. Some things are best left in the bubble. Some things don't need to be posted right now. Some things need to be prayed about. Some things need to go through wise counsel. Some things are best left in the bubble. Keep it in the bubble. I just kept you from sending an email that was going to take you five years to repair. Keep it in the bubble. Save it as a draft. Pray on it. Type it out. Pray on it. Delete it. Edit it. Revise it. Belief has to be incubated sometimes in a bubble.
"Don't be afraid; just believe". And what's the first thing he did after he told him that? "Y'all back off, because this man needs to believe something right now. This woman needs to believe something right now". She was healed because she thought. She didn't ask anybody's permission. She acted on it. I mean, there are some things, when God calls me to do them, I don't tell anybody. I don't even like to tell my team that puts my sermon title on the screen what it is before I preach it. How are they going to put it on the screen if I don't tell them what it is? I'm weird about it. I don't want to always talk about stuff God is doing in me. We put something down this week. I said, "Chris, just hold it for a little while. We just have to live with it. I want to keep it in the bubble".
Some thoughts you have to hold on to; some thoughts you have to release. Some thoughts you have to let go of because that's not really what God said. That's not who you are. That didn't come from him. Remember, "My thoughts are not your thoughts". I'm not what I thought. Some of that you have to let float off, but when you get a God thought, keep it in the bubble. When Jesus told the crowd… He thins out the crowd. The first thing he has to do is get Jairus in a bubble. Jesus says, "Don't be afraid; just believe". Here's what's crazy: Jairus does not say a single thing that indicates that he has faith. He didn't say, "I believe, Lord". He didn't make declarations of faith. "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord". He didn't do any of that.
Sometimes belief is best shown, not told. Sometimes faith is best if I touch the hem of his garment. She didn't tell anybody. She just touched. I don't mean sneak around and do weird stuff, join seven different dating websites and don't tell anybody. I'm not talking about that. Jesus said, "Don't be afraid; just believe," and the next thing he did… Watch this. Jesus is so relevant. He's so relevant to what we're going through right now. He put Jairus in a bubble. He said, "Peter, James, John, y'all come. Everybody else, stay". Bubble. If you let too much fear in right now, if you let too much content in right now, you are going to go crazy. If you start imagining what your kids are going to be like at their graduation of high school and they're in second grade, you're going to go crazy. Keep it in a bubble.
Let me give you a Bible verse. "Sufficient for the day is its own trouble". You have enough trouble in today's bubble. Trouble bubbles. That's part 3. I'm going to do part 3. Will you help me preach part 3? But it gets crazier than that. "When they came to the home of the synagogue leader…" Now we have his home where the issue is and his position, and he comes into the home, and watch what's going on. Jesus sees a commotion, people crying, wailing loudly. Everybody is tweeting and blogging and streaming and talking and pontificating with a million opinions. Jesus went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and wailing? This child is not dead but asleep". Verse 40: "But they laughed at him".
Watch what he did. You say you want to be like Jesus? When did the miracle happen? "After he put them all out…" I feel a delete party happening in your contacts section while I preach the Word of God. Now, don't delete everybody. He took the disciples with him. You don't put everybody out. You don't put every thought out, but sometimes you have to believe in a bubble. Sometimes you can't ask everybody. I mean, you have to ask your boss. You have to ask your wife. You have to ask the important people. You have to have a few, but it's too much right now. God sent me with a word to get you in a bubble. He said, "Everybody, leave," because sometimes breakthrough only happens in the bubble.
Thank you, Lord. He's showing me things. He's giving me things right now as I speak to you, and then while I'm getting those things, there are other things being like, "Oh, that's dumb" or "Wow, that's really stupid". But I'm in a bubble. I have to keep it in the bubble. I have to remember while I'm preaching that I'm not preaching for somebody who's going to criticize what I say or think it's weird or think it's crazy. If you think I'm out of my mind, that's the goal. My mind has made me miserable for most of my life. They laughed at Jesus, not because he was weird but because he was focused. Jesus had the original NBA bubble. Not the National Basketball Association…No Buts Allowed.
Come on, let's have some fun together for five minutes. I don't want to say it like this, but I'm going to. We could probably edit it for the archive. Get your but out of the bubble. Does the Bible say but in verse 40? "But they laughed at him". "Get out. Get out. Get out". "You can do it, but it's…" "Get out". "Why bother"? "Get out". "But…" "Get out. I'm doing this". Some breakthroughs can only happen in the bubble where you have a few friends, where you have a few objectives, where you have a few priorities, not trying to be everything all the time. No, I'm going to do this and this and this, and I know who I am. I'm not trying to prove to anybody that I'm something else, and I'm not trying to play a different role. Just because we have to wear physical masks doesn't mean we have to wear emotional ones.
I thought it was so weird when they said, "It's weird to see people in masks". I said, "Not for me as a pastor. I've been looking at people in masks…" Jesus knew that sometimes it takes a bubble to maintain belief. After we get done with this, you'll put in the chat or in the comments this week what the bubble means for you. It could mean I need to have five minutes when I start my day to remind myself where my help comes from. I did it today, because once I come here there are too many stimuli. I'm going to be like, "The room is too hot. The room is too cold. Why is that person not here? Why is this person there? Can I get to the thing? Did I do the thing"? It would be too much.
I sat there and breathed in the bubble for a minute, and it really helped me. I don't always do it, but when I do it helps me. Out loud I started saying… I popped the thought bubble and actually prayed. I said, "God, thank you today that you have given me something that will help and heal people. I thank you for it, Lord. I thank you today that as I preach, I stand in your authority, not my own. I thank you that you've given me what I need for the role I'm in". Maybe you want to start your day that way. Maybe you want to clarify your priorities again. "You know what? I've been so busy over here…"
Then, of course, after he made the bubble, he showed them what a breakthrough looks like. I don't even want to read it because I'll be tempted to preach it. The Bible says when he went in where the child was (verse 41), he did the impossible. One daughter thought she was a woman with an issue, but another daughter who they thought was dead, when he took her hand… Wow! What would it feel like for something that you thought was dead…? Maybe not a person…joy, clarity. He took her by the hand. This was not how Jairus thought it would happen. This was not what he believed for. It was even better. What if God wants to burst your bubble to give you something better? Thank you, Lord. I receive it. God, I don't want to live my life trapped in my bubble.
You know, Jesus took this girl by the hand. Jairus said, "Will you put your hands on her, and she'll live"? Remember that? That's how he scripted it. That was his blueprint, but Jesus didn't bless him according to his blueprint. He took her by the hand and said, "Talitha koum! Little girl, get up"! And when she got up… Jairus didn't even ask for this. Look at verse 42. "Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this…" Keep it in the bubble. Some things are for you. "…and told them to give her something to eat". He threw lunch in for free.
When I say that God has got something better… God said, "I'm going to put fries in the bag that you didn't even ask for. I'm going to feed you something your faith didn't even know to reach for. I'll call you back and make you a daughter. I'll fix you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I'm a provider". Speaking of extra, can I give you another Scripture? I promise you I have preached to you enough where I can close the Bible in good conscience and we can go on and watch something else or you can stay with me while I traverse centuries of history and introduce Jairus, the man whose bubble saved his faith, the man who believed even when his daughter was dead, the man who kept moving forward even through the worst pain of his life. Like Levi Lusko. Like Fly Ty, my barber. The man who pressed through unimaginable pain to experience restoration.
I want to show Jairus about a man he never met because he lived hundreds of years before him. His name was Naaman, and Naaman had a bubble too. Naaman was a great man. That's what the Bible says. He was good at fighting. I want to introduce Naaman to Jairus, because they're very similar. I think they would be good friends if they met. Jairus was a synagogue leader. Well, they probably wouldn't have been great friends, because Jairus was Jewish and Naaman was over Aram, modern-day Syria. Israel and Syria didn't like each other, so they would have a lot to get past. Sometimes the people God wants to bless you through, sometimes the people God wants to use in your life are going to be people from totally different backgrounds; AKA, God wants to burst your bubble.
I thought about having a prop up here, blowing the bubble, you know, sound effects or whatever, but I said, "No, this isn't a cute message; it's a powerful message". Just because I'm saying that it's a bubble… It's so much bigger than that. I never knew Moncks Corner was going to marry Miami. Holly was from Miami, Florida, and I always thought I would marry a Southern girl. Let me tell you how not Southern she is. She thinks boiled peanuts taste like dirt. At least she did. I showed her boiled peanuts. Some of y'all in other places of the world are like, "Is he speaking in tongues? He said something about a peanut being boiled".
See, I grew up in the Moncks Corner bubble where boiled peanuts were a delicacy. I didn't crack no crab legs. I'm cracking the boiled peanuts, and from the gas station. The homemade ones were a treat, but I'll do it at a gas station if we need to. You never had a boiled peanut in your life before you came to Charlotte. That woman tasted boiled peanuts in my mom's kitchen. I was so excited. I was trying to impress her. I had my dad fry some shrimp, and I had some boiled peanuts my mom made. It was a whole family effort. We were just dating. She tasted them, and I watched her to see what she would think. She said, "It tastes like dirt". I laid my hands on her until every Miami demon came out of that woman. This day…I stand to give God glory…she cooks me boiled peanuts once every two weeks, and she eats them too.
Let's praise God for the miracle. I have a testimony from death to life, from Miami to Moncks Corner. A man told me, "I couldn't stand to watch you preach because you were white, but God used you". A man told me, "I couldn't stand to watch you preach because you were young, but God used you". A teenager told me, "I used to not like to listen to you because I thought you were boring, but then God used you". God might not use who you thought he would use. Naaman was a great man. Oh my god! Many victories. That was his position. Look at it in verse 1. "He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded…" That means in the public places. "But," the Bible says.
Do you see it in verse 1? The Lord gave him victory. God has given you victory. God has given you some things. "…but he had leprosy". Nobody would have known that under his armor. The woman was bleeding on the inside. Naaman has something that is eating away at him, even as God is working through him. Both can happen at the same time. Naaman kind of demonstrates what I was telling you about, that often God will send you an answer through an unexpected person you didn't even ask the question to. God will answer your prayers in places you didn't even think to ask.
When that thing happened at school last year, I did not know you were going to be my workout partner, but those are some of the best times of every day for me. I'm talking to my son Elijah. Sometimes when I'm down there I don't know whether to be a dad or to be a trainer, because I want to yell at him, and then I also want to be a good dad and comfort him, like, "It's okay. You don't have to… Get one more rep"! I don't know which one to be. God used something we were both frustrated about with school to get us down there in that. You never thought you'd be throwing around those big weights either. At first, we wouldn't work out together because his weights were too small. I didn't feel like re-racking that much. I'm a big guy, you know. But now we lift together. He's getting strong. I never thought my son would be my workout partner in this season.
I know it's a silly analogy, but sometimes God will use something to bond you with your child. It's just amazing. We talk about everything. I'm going to write a book about the things we talk about in that workout room. I already wrote the introductory chapter. I'm going to wait until he's 50 years old to publish it in case he doesn't listen to any of it. Maybe I'll just give it to him. Maybe I won't ever write the book. I don't know.
See, I'm getting to this point in my life where I'm going to stop trusting so much in what I thought. Bust the bubble. Stop thinking there's only one style of ministry God can bless you through. Stop thinking that ravens can't bring you food. Stop thinking that sticks can't part Red Seas. Stop thinking that only the first one in gets healed. Stop thinking that the Savior is going to look like Superman. He might look like a baby. He busted their bubble. That's why they could not receive Jesus. He was not what they thought the Messiah would be, and he didn't do what they thought the Messiah would do. We're right there now.
So, Naaman… I was talking about Naaman, wasn't I? Naaman was a great man, but he had a horrible issue. That's true of everybody I'm speaking to. If you said, "No, I don't" to the second part of that, that means you struggle with pride. If you said, "No, I don't" to the first part of that, you struggle with insecurity, which is an inverted form of pride. You're a great person with some nasty issues. So was Naaman. But here's the thing I wanted to show you about Naaman, and I wanted to show Jairus. There was a little girl living in Naaman's house who was from Israel. She saw her master's condition (verse 2). Everybody else saw his position. (I'm not saying this to be cute.) She saw under the armor. She saw there was something happening on his skin that if it was left unattended long enough, that issue would consume him, even his accomplishments.
So then, "She said to her mistress…" Verse 2: "…she served Naaman's wife". She served. She said. God spoke through a servant. One time in the Bible God spoke through a donkey. That's how I know he can use me too. I'm a servant. God can speak to you. Some of you will listen to me preach, but you won't listen to your wife. I can't speak to the things I don't see. Sometimes we will not listen to the things God is speaking because we have so carefully constructed when he speaks. You think the only time God speaks is when you listen to a preacher or you think the only time God moves is when you're in a church building.
Can I tell you this? I had God in such a bubble I thought God could only grow our church if we had buildings. I stood up here on this stage and said, "We're going to reach 100,000 people every week," and in my mind I saw 20 more buildings. I did not know, could not have known, and still don't understand that we are reaching way more than 100,000 people, but not the way I thought. It's not what I thought. It is Ephesians 3:20: exceedingly abundantly above all you ask or imagine, with fries in the bag. He has been bursting your bubble! His ways are not your ways and his thoughts are not your thoughts. Jairus expected healing, but he got resurrection and fries in the bag. God is going to do some things in my life, in our ministry, in our hearts that we didn't even know to ask for. They didn't count that little boy, but he had the meal that became the miracle.
I don't even want to preach this. If I preach this like I feel it, your bubble might burst. You might start realizing that it's not about what comes from you; it's about what comes through you. He's doing a great work! This is for you, big boy. This is for you, Naaman. This is for you, little girl. This is for you, daughter. This is for you, commander. This is for your leprosy. This is for your hidden place. This is for your issue. This is for your identity. This little girl said, "If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria"! The place he would have never thought to go, the thing he would have never thought to do.
If you are the commander of the army of Aram, the last thing you think of is going to see the enemy that you attack all the time. The last thing he thought of. Maybe I could say it like this: his plan Z was God's plan A. Please receive this ministry. God might have hidden your help, but if you stay in your bubble… Those of us who need to plan everything are going to miss his presence. That's why they say, "Why don't you preach with notes"? Because I figure some of the greatest stuff God might say might flow from something I didn't know to write down. What if he gives it to me in the moment? Am I open? What if he gives it to you in 2020? Is it open? What if he gives it to you through a time in your life that's the scariest time of all? Are you open? Don't be afraid. That's hard to do.
"My daughter has died". No, no, no. Keep it in the bubble. Just believe. Thought bubbles. Something so simple. What are the thought bubbles, the things I thought God was going to do, the things I've limited to? Just like a thought can link you to the power of God, a thought can limit you. A thought can limit you just like a thought can link you. The woman experienced a point of connection by faith. She acted on a thought and she was healed. I wanted to introduce Naaman to Jairus because Naaman almost missed it. The Lord said, "I'm preaching to somebody today who's in danger of missing it". The thing he's doing in your life.
See, Naaman got ready to go see the prophet. He burst his bubble. He said, "I'll go to Samaria". How many know when it gets bad enough you'll try stuff you didn't think about trying? You'll start eating broccoli and stuff. You'll start fasting and stuff. You'll become a vegan and stuff. You'll start praying and stuff, worshiping and stuff. You'll become one of those Christians, one of those radical Christians. Verse 4: "Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 'By all means, go,' the king of Aram replied. 'I will send a letter to the king…'" All of the things the king thought would help Naaman. "So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing".
All of the things he thought he would need, all of the things he thought were required for his life to be restored. When he got there with the letter the king sent with Naaman… "So that you may cure him of his leprosy". The Bible says that when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes. "…he tore his robes and said, 'Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!'" But watch the prophet. The prophet Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes. Have you torn your robes? Have you forgotten who you are? Have you gone so deep into mourning it's no longer just a necessary grief, but it has become normal for you? Have you medicated yourself with misery? "No," Elisha said. "Don't tear your robes. Have him come to me and he'll know there's a prophet in Israel".
"So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha's house". God said you're at the door today. He's waiting on Elisha. He's waiting on a miracle. How many of you are waiting for something in your life right now, some kind of breakthrough? Please raise your hand if you're breathing, because if you're breathing that means there are more breakthroughs God wants you to experience. He doesn't want you to stay stagnant, just stay at one level. We're going from glory to glory. I'm going to keep preaching faith. I'm creating a bubble. Elevation Church is going to be a bubble for you over these next few months. This is going to be a bubble where you're going to get pure, honest, raw faith.
There is a word from the Lord. Elisha sent a messenger to him and told him, "Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed". "But Naaman…" For all of you who are hung up on that part that says "But," you missed the real message. He went away angry and said, "I thought…" The woman received a miracle because she thought. Naaman almost missed his. Just like a thought can bring healing, a thought can stop it. "I thought that he would surely…" Stop trying to be so certain. Be confident. Certainty and confidence are two totally different things, child of God. Certainty is faith in what you thought he would do. Confidence is faith in who's going to do it.
"I thought he was going to come out here and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot, and cure me of my leprosy. I thought he was going to do one of these little things". God had to burst Naaman's bubble, set him free from what he thought. I believe there's a miracle happening in your heart right now. God is bursting the bubble of what you thought…what you thought you needed, what you thought you could be, what you thought you couldn't survive without. You're going to discover new capabilities in this season you didn't even know you had. Naaman almost went off because he thought.
How many things have I missed because I thought? How many things has God wanted to do in my life, but I didn't participate because it didn't match what I thought? He's still going to bless you, but not like you thought. "God, set me free from what I thought". What a prayer. "Set me free from my blueprint". It's not what I thought. Then he took me all the way back to Isaiah where he said, "My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are not your thoughts". The Lord wants to do a thought transplant for you today. You got approved on the donor list. He sent his Son to die for you. He said he wants to give you a thought transplant. I said, "What does that look like, God"? He said, "Well, it's going to have a rejection period".
My dad had a liver transplant, so I know all this stuff. "It's going to have a rejection period, but tell them to begin to think… Tell them to spend some time in the bubble with me, because my thoughts are not your thoughts. My ways are not your ways". Thank God that Naaman had a good friend. Thank God that Naaman had a voice, because he almost missed what God wanted to give him because it was not what he thought it would be. Just about the time the man was going off, like you've been going off; just about the time he was about to get cynical and bitter and mean and nasty; just about the time he was saying, "Why bother"? Naaman's servants came to him and said… Can you imagine the conversation? "I'm not telling him; you tell him". "I'm not telling him; you tell him". But one of them said it, from a thought bubble to a dialogue box. He spoke it. He said, "My father…" Respect. "Mr. Naaman, if he told you to do a great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, 'Wash and be cleansed'"!
Thank God that he went down. Isn't it crazy how God's thoughts are above our thoughts, but sometimes he calls us to come down and to do something that seems so dumb. Naaman said, "I could have washed in the rivers of Damascus. They were better than this". Your bubble is what you think would be better. God wants to burst that bubble too. It's not better to be somebody else. God wants to set you free from your bubble of what you think would be better so you could enjoy where he has you. I know; I want it to get better too.
There are a lot of things I want to get better. God invites Naaman into a process. I believe he's calling you, too, to go down, to stop worshiping what you thought. Realize that his ways are higher. Embrace his purpose in this season. "…and [he] dipped himself in the Jordan seven times". Do you know what that spoke to me? Repetition. You don't think differently because you heard a sermon. You don't grow pecs by doing it once every four weeks. God said, "Another rep, another rep, until you think like I think".
The man of God told him to do it seven times, and he did it seven times, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. He became who he was all along before the leprosy. Before the heartbreak, before the addiction… God is restoring you. The Spirit of the Lord is restoring you, dip by dip, thought by thought. He's bursting your bubble. You don't need your camels. You don't need your spices. You don't need your clothes. You don't need any of that. It's not going to take what you thought. God said, "My ways are higher".
Lord, we've covered so much ground today. It all comes down to something so simple. It comes down to something so simple that we could miss it. It comes down to us realizing that beneath all of the layers of what life has put on us and struggle has put on us, Naaman had to become a son, a boy. The woman had to become a daughter. God, bring us back to who we really are. Thank you that we are not our thoughts, our decisions, our mistakes, our accomplishments. We stand here right now because we have a name that has been given to us that is above every name, whatever people can call us, categorize us by. I'm something different. I'm something different than what I did. I'm something different than what I think. Who am I, God? Show me who I really am. Show me who you really are. I'll dip in the Jordan if I have to. I'll apologize. I want to rethink my life from your level. I want to spend some time in the bubble. God, I want you to pull down every stronghold, every thought that didn't come from you.
Cast it out right now. Lift your hands. I hear the Lord saying, "Water your thoughts". Water your thoughts with worship. Open up your mouth right now. If you get serious enough, you won't care what everybody thinks about it around you. You'll do it right there in your living room and begin to worship him. "I am a child of God". Even something that simple. Let's have a breakthrough right there in the bubble, right there in your home. Let's have God show up right in that place, right in that broken place.