Steven Furtick — Keep Your Head In The Clouds
I'm coming from a text today in Isaiah 55 and it is very powerful what the prophet has to say. Give your now to the voice of God. "Let the wicked," verse 7, "forsake their ways, and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord and He will have mercy on them". How many are grateful for God's mercy in your life? Come on, if you know you're going to need some mercy on Monday why don't you go ahead and praise Him for it in advance? You oughtta praise God for the mercy you don't even need yet. 'Cause you know you're gonna need it. Touch somebody and say, "You're gonna need mercy".
You're gonna mess some things up and mercy will be right there waiting on you. So if you do that, if you turn to Him, He'll have mercy on you and He will freely pardon. And the reasoning is this, verse eight, "As God declares, 'My thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways My ways,' declares the Lord, 'As the Heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from Heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth".
See this is the verse that I pray every time before I come preach, every time I don't think there's been a time in ten years that I didn't pray this before I preached because it says that like the rain comes down from Heaven and does not return without watering the earth, making it bud and flourish that that's how God's word is yielding seed for the sower and bread for the eater. And so God feeds us today and the process begins when His word hits our hearts. He says, "This is the way that my word operates. So is my word that goes out from my mouth, it will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire. And it will achieve the purpose for which I sent it and you will go out in joy".
Tell somebody, "I'm leaving happy". And you'll be led forth in peace, the mountains and hills will burst into song before you. I love that, He says that you're surroundings are going to begin to reflect the joy that's in your spirit when you go out letting joy everything around you is going to reflect that joy. Come on, somebody, I feel Jesus in this place. And all the trees of the field will clap their hands instead of the thorn bush will grow the juniper. There's going to be an uprooting, says God, and I'm gonna replant some things in your life and re-position some things in your life and instead of briers the myrtle will grow and this will be for the Lord's renown. It's not about you, it's all about Him, for an everlasting sign that will endure forever.
God we thank You that Your word endures, we thank You that Your hope endures, we thank you that the spirit of Christ rules and reigns in this place. I know I gotta preach but I feel revival in this place. We need to throw up our hands on every location and worship Him one more time. He who was and is to come Is the One who lives in us The great I am! Yahweh! Yahweh! Come on, hug five people before you take your seat. It's good to be in church today. Yahweh. Elijah Uncle Max sent me a picture that said something pretty funny. It said, "When the world says no way, God's people say Yahweh". Touch somebody and say, "Yahweh".
Thank you so much worship team, incredible, incredible. But I wanna kinda talk about how we think and Joyce Meyer — I don't know if you've ever seen Joyce Meyer but she's a Bible teacher, a great Bible teacher — and she has this saying, "We need to think about what we're thinkin' about. We need to think about what we're thinkin' about". If you would just touch the person next to you kind of on their head and say, "That's your problem..". Because we're taught to believe in religion that you know the devil is our enemy but I found out that my greatest enemy is in me. And this text deals with the subject of our thoughts.
I'm calling this message today "Keep Your Head In The Clouds," come on, Brad, "Keep Your Head In The Clouds," It's a little saying that we use when people are a little too imaginative we say, "You need to get your head out of the clouds". As a parent of a 10 year old, a seven-year-old, and a four-year-old I am daily reminded of the power of imagination. The creative power of imagination; the destructive power of imagination. Why it was just yesterday that Graham built a zipline for Abby's stuffed pandas. It was just yesterday that the entire dresser came tumbling down, thankfully no one was under it. What happened? Graham's imagination. It is your imagination.
I want to make an announcement, as matter of fact, if you didn't know this: your imagination is under attack. The enemy is after your imagination. Your imagination is the incubation place for every great thing that you'll ever think. For any opportunity that you will create for yourself or seize. Your imagination must be active. And so the enemy sets out early in life preferably to sabotage your imagination. Or, can we say it this way: to imprison you within your own imagination.
Here's what I mean by that. Your mind is the place where all of the miracles that God wants to work in your life will begin. Your mind is also the place where a lot of the miracles that God wants to work in your life will die. So, the enemy, and when I say the enemy I mean the devil and if you don't believe in the devil well, you need to have some kids. The enemy will try to create in your own imagination a sense where you can't stand to be alone with your own thoughts. And he wants to make it where you don't really like to be with yourself. In other words, he wants to capture your imagination.
The Scripture here says that God sends his word into your life for a purpose. And so the enemy knowing this has to plant thoughts in your mind that will pervert that purpose. In other words, to make you a captive of your own imagination so that he can take from you your sense of anticipation and turn it into anxiety. Have you ever thought about this? That the same organ that creates anticipation in your life also creates anxiety? The same imagination that can really make you excited about going to see Eddie Van Halen is the same imagination that can keep you up at night worrying about stuff that may never happen.
Touch somebody and say, "Capture your imagination". You've got to make a decision in your life that my imagination is a gift from God and I'm not gonna let it turn into an iMax screen for the devil to just project whatever fear and whatever insecurity and whatever scenario he wants to broadcast in my mind. Today's the day that I'm taking my mind back. If I'm gonna get my peace back, I've gotta regain the territory of my mind.
And this Scripture is important because the Hebrew people have been going through a cycle. That's the first I want to mention is cycle. It's a cycle of captivity. You understand that Isaiah is a prophetic book so Isaiah is writing this particular chapter 200 years before the people would need it. He's writing it 200 years before they would need it because they were carried away into captivity which began a cycle so that they would begin to think like the Babylonians and instead of thinking like they were from they were thinking like they were trapped.
And so this may have application to us today because we may not be in physical captivity but I think the worst thing in the world is to be free physically and to be enslaved mentally. The worst thing in the world is to have freedom to do something different but not have the psychological ability to break free from old memories because if you let the enemy he will manipulate your memories and chop them up together so much that you're afraid of your future and you can't even think about tomorrow without feeling something in your stomach. What's happening here? He's attacking your imagination. And he wants to get you in to a cycle. It's a cycle.
If you look at most of the negative thoughts in your life they occur in cycles. They're set off when you're tired or they're set off when you're lonely or they're set off in moments where particular things have triggered you to think in old ways and yet as believers so often we're focused on the symptoms than we are on the cycle. And so if we're always just trying to pop pills to get our symptoms to go away we'll never address the cycle that created those symptoms to begin with and God ends this passage talking about the symptoms He said the thorn bush is going to be replaced by the juniper and the briers are going to be replaced by myrtle and this is gonna be a sign but before you can see the sign, before the situation can be fixed, before the symptoms can go away, you gotta break the cycle.
And we came to church today not just to get a little something to make us feel better about our symptoms, but we came here so the Word of God could break our cycles that have kept us trapped. In fact, I came as a liberator today, I picked up this microphone like an anvil to break chains in your life for every cycle that's had you trapped, for every cycle that's had you stuck, for every cycle that's kept you awake, for every cycle that's kept you unemployed, for every cycle that's kept you single, for every cycle that's kept you in terror, for every cycle that's kept you paralyzed by pain.
Today is the day, says God, the cycle is broken. Come, on give Him a shout somebody! And the cycle must be broken, if the cycle isn't broken you're gonna go around and around so God says you break the cycle when you turn to me. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. How is God so smart? How did He know what it took the neurosurgeons until just a few years ago to find out? Look at verse 7, this is fascinating, He said that they have to change their ways by changing their thoughts. The ways and the thoughts. How did He know that when they started studying our brains they would find out that when our neurons fire to create a thought they also over time create pathways, neural pathways in our brain showing us that the way we are right now is a product of the way that we thought up until now.
Scientists think they're so much smarter than God, God told you this in 800 B.C.! That if you think a certain way you'll be a certain way. "Well that's just the way I am". No, that's just the way you think. Change the way you think you'll change the way you are. Change the way you are you'll change the life you have. But it starts with a thought. Starts with a thought like a seed. So God uses a cycle that we can understand to help us understand our thinking which we often struggle to understand. And He uses this analogy through Isaiah of the cycle of rain and seed and harvest. Rain falls on the seed to create the harvest. Rain falls on the seed but the rain can only water the seed that has been planted.
So I want to ask you a question today. What are you watering in your life? 'Cause whatever you water will take over your garden. Whatever you water will grow. Whatever you water, whatever you irrigate in your imagination will grow. Interesting word to me that he said was, he said, verse 7, "Let the wicked forsake their ways". Forsake, that's a funny word because that's a relational word. That's a word that means that we were close and you left me. You were supposed to be with me. Somebody can't forsake you if you were never close to them. Someone can't forsake you if you didn't depend on them.
So this is a word that a child would use to the dad who left, "Why did you forsake me"? It's a relational word. And could God be addressing the fact here that we have developed a certain relationship with our thoughts? That although we say we want to be free of the cycle of our negative thinking we've actually become so comforted by that way of thinking that we wouldn't want God to break it because it's what we've come to depend on for companionship.
There can be cycles of thinking that become so ingrained in the way that you process that you depend on them for survival and so when God actually challenges that cycle you become resistant because you're so used to it that you'd rather be warm with the wrong thoughts than have to get out from under the covers of what you've always cuddled up with and find a new way to think. But in Jesus' name today I declare that the cycle is broken because of the word of God. God said, "If you'll turn to Me even now I'll freely pardon you".
I want to recreate your mind. I want to transform the way you think. I want to break your cycle. Shove somebody say, "Break the cycle, break the cycle". Shove 'em. Give 'em a good little violent push. Go on, somebody push that guy in the button down, thank you ma'am, that bald guy up there in the butt I said I wanted you to push I want you to tell him to break the cycle, break the cycle, break the cycle of pessimism. Break the cycle of always being the victim. Break the cycle of self pity.
Now before you clap make sure that's what you really want because some of y'all say you want the cycle of self pity broken but how would you deal with disappointment if you didn't get to feel sorry for yourself? You can get so used to living on a certain level that when God actually comes along to elevate you you don't even want the promotion. Let's talk about the level. The level. The level that you think on. Isn't that what God means when He says, "Hey, My thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways My ways".
Let me give you a picture of this okay? You know how high the heavens are above the earth? That's how much higher I think than you think. And for you to experience peace and purpose in your life requires another level of thought. Wouldn't it be cool if there was a church with a name that was like, suggested, that wherever you are in your life today doesn't have to be where you stay for the rest of your life? If you came in this church today — I want to let you know just from the name that you saw on the banner when you walked in the door you came into a place today with some people who are going somewhere and it's not down. I'm headed up. I'm going up. Shake somebody's hand tell him, "I'm going up". Ask 'em, "You wanna come"? It's another level.
What level are you thinking on? Are you still thinking like you're 13 and you're 30? Still getting your fingers hurt over who didn't speak to you? Like you're a teenager? And you are a grown person? Human being, individual, sorry. Touch somebody say, "Grow up". Paul said when I was a child I thought like a child, that's the level I was on. But when I became a man I put childish things behind me. Come on to go up you got to grow up! Grow up in your thinking. Grow up in your processing. Just a thought. It's just a thought.
I told you two weeks ago as you go higher it always gets harder and I'm saying it again in honor of the 30th year anniversary of Super Mario Brothers. Today. Bless you, Luigi, as you go higher it gets harder. On a video game, every level creates different opponents. The country preacher said, and I can't say it like he did, but he said, "New levels, new devils". So as you think you want to think higher realize that it requires more of you. How many of you are in a management position in your job? A management position and this would include if you are a mom you are in a management position only you are managing terrorists. Raise your hand if you're in a management position. Management position? Cool.
I want to say something about the management position. The management position is a little bit harder than just the simple employee position because now you're having not only to manage your own discipline and your own thinking and your own decisions but now when you got your promotion along with your promotion came Pete. And Pete smokes weed. And Pete doesn't show up on time very much but now because you're a manager now, because you're required to think on a higher level now you're not only thinking about how to get yourself to work with car problems, now you gotta think about how Pete gets to work with car problems. And if Pete doesn't show up who's gonna show up? So ask the person next to you, "Are you sure you want the promotion"? Because you're gonna have to think about things differently in your mind. A higher level.
My thoughts are not your thoughts, God says. And my ways are not your ways. But you do have access to think like I think. And God invites you to come up here and think on my level. Come up here in my box seat and watch the game, God says. Come up here and fly at 30.000 feet over what's been keeping you up at night. It won't look the same up here.
You know how I know that? Paul wrote something so cool in Colossians 3 about the resurrection. He said that the resurrection is more than just the miracle. The resurrection is a miracle, it's a historical miracle when Jesus got up from the grave but it's more than a miracle because Paul says, Colossians 3:1, "Since then you have been raised, since You have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God". Watch this, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things". The resurrection is not just a miracle, the resurrection is a mindset.
I came to ask today do you have a resurrection mindset? Can you look at defeat and see deliverance? Can you look at obstacle and see opportunity? Can you look at shortage and see supply? Can you look at not enough and see more than enough? Can you look at conflict and see conquest? I'm talking about a resurrection mindset. I'm talking about the kind of mindset that knows that the seed didn't come into the ground just to die but after it's done dying it produces new life come on, we're thinking on a new level, a new level, come on up, get on up, get on up!