Steven Furtick - Freedom From Unhealthy Cravings
So, why do you crave what you hate? Why do you prefer pessimistic thoughts? Why do you tend to gravitate toward that? Or self-pity. Why do you like that? Why do you like to say really horrible stuff about yourself that you would fight somebody else if they said it to one of your friends? Why do you crave that? Why do you feed yourself that? I always like to point out when we're talking about "Your phone is your Pharaoh" that most of the stuff you're doing is called a feed.
Have you noticed it doesn't really fill you? How many of you got off Instagram or Facebook one night this week and said, "God, I just feel so fresh. I feel so ready for what's next. My faith in humanity is restored just seeing the comments of those who the Lord has appointed to speak into my life. Mmm! Garlic, onions, leeks… this is delicious". Listen. It's like it was in Egypt. They gave them bricks with no straw. That's what these social media apps are designed to do to us: to starve us and keep us coming… Y'all better watch the documentary on Netflix. This crap is real. It doesn't fill you. Your appetite for the wrong things is insatiable. Yet some of the stuff you crave isn't bad; it's just where are you going to go to get it? That's what I love about God. He has what I really want.
Let me ask you a question. Why would you run to Pharaoh to beg for something your Father can freely give you? I don't want this to be a negative sermon. Let me preach for a few minutes about your Father's fridge. We're talking about comfort food, so let's go all the way forward a few centuries when a rabbi named Jesus showed up and started teaching. He said, "Let me tell you what the kingdom of God is like. The kingdom of God is like a man who has 100 sheep, lost one, and went after the one. Oh, it's like a woman who had 10 coins, lost one, and went after the one". Or, if you didn't get that, it's like a man who had two sons and lost one. The one said, "I'm going to take my inheritance".
The Bible says in Luke 15… I love how the Bible just goes together. It's like a great meal where all of the dishes complement each other. I was thinking about the famine they felt in the wilderness, and then I thought about this younger son in Luke 15. You know him as the Prodigal Son. You might have heard about him. He gets blamed for a lot of stuff. He went out and took his father's money and wasted it. He took what he could have invested and wasted it. Some of us have done that. We've wasted time. We've wasted thoughts. We've wasted energy. We've wasted intellect. We've wasted passions. We've wasted desires. We have craved inordinate things.
That's what the word means in Numbers 11:4. It means to crave an inordinate thing with an indiscriminate leaning on your senses. Just eating anything. That's what happened to the son who left his father's house. I want to read this to you and see if this is how you've been feeling lately. The Lord told me that we are feeling the famine, and it's not even just an economic thing. You might be like, "Well, my job is fine". I think we're feeling a famine just for some basic human contact these days, because everything is new and everything is the same. It feels endless and it feels different all at the same time.
I never had to walk up to people before and think, "Do we shake hands? Are we going to do this"? I used to have to be like, "Are we going to dap? Are we just going to shake? What are we doing? Are we doing this or are we doing that"? Now I don't even know if we should touch each other. I never had to ask that before. But it feels like it's just the same every day. Look at Luke 15:13. The younger brother got together everything his father gave him and set out to a distant country. Do you see that? He went to a foreign place, just like the Israelites. Here's the difference. He went to a foreign place, and he wasn't running from a famine; he was running from his father. I understand running from a famine, but why would he run from his father? "When he got there, he squandered his wealth in wild living".
When you read that, you think about all of the things you don't struggle with, but I would challenge you to plug in something that personally fits for you there. Don't take it straight to the strip club, because you would never go there when you see wild living. Think about the other things. Think about the things that keep you spending, spending, spending…not just money, but keep you just spending, spending, spending, hungry, hungry, hungry, thirsty, thirsty, thirsty, feeding, feeding, feeding. Think about these things. Think about what it is for you. It could be something different for each person in here.
Look at what happened. "After he had spent everything…" That's what eventually happens. Eventually, you're just spent. How many can testify that eventually…? When you go to a foreign place away from who you know you really are, away from character first, chasing after applause from people or chasing after somebody's approval, it doesn't fill you. Pharaoh can never feed you. There aren't enough fish in the world. While we're at it, the fish aren't that good. They aren't as good as you remember them. They aren't as good as you imagine them. The fish are not that good. It's full of bones, and it'll choke you on the bones. The fish are not that good! The fish are not worth me giving up myself for. The fish are not worth me giving up my peace for.
No, no. There's not a fish in the world, there is not a fish in Egypt, there is not a fish in the Nile that is worth me giving up my knowledge of God and myself. That's what the younger brother did. "After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need". It was a good thing that there was a famine, because it brought him back to his father. It's a good thing. If it brings you closer to God, it's a good thing. I'm not talking about feels good in these five minutes. I'm not talking about comfort. I'm talking about change, grace, faith, the good stuff, the stuff you can live on, not what this kid started eating.
Look at what happens to you when you leave your Father. Look at what happens to you when you start remembering Egypt's fish and forgetting God's faithfulness. This boy went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country. You don't belong here. I'm saying that to somebody. You do not belong in this low place. You do not belong at 3:00 in the morning on some Pornhub trying to find something to fill you that only makes you more hungry. You do not belong in that place. And, yes, this is a real pulpit, and, yes, we talk about real stuff, and, yes, I live in the world, and, yes, I know that some of us… I'm not yelling at you. I'm pleading with you. Don't let a craving kill you.
You want acceptance? Good. You want joy? Good. You want life? Good. You want more? Good. The problem with most Christians isn't that we want too much. We don't want enough. We'll settle for fish. God wants to give us fruit. We'll settle for a high when God wants us to be seated above all the noise of this world. I'm telling you what I found out the hard way. The boy didn't want enough. He just wanted his share of the inheritance, and look at where it left him. Look at where it leaves you. This is why we've been feeling weak. Not because of something going on externally. No, no, no. The Bible says he looked at the pigs he was feeding and (verse 16) "He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating…" Comfort food, eating something that was fit for an animal.
Have you been doing that? Thoughts you're telling yourself, things you've been believing, lies you've been going to just to feel full for five minutes. Then he had a moment of realization. I love it, because (verse 17) he came to his senses and said to himself, "My father's fridge is full". I just paraphrased that. I like the way that sounded. Put it right there in the chat. Say it with your mouth out loud. "My Father's fridge is full".
Look at the person on the couch next to you and brag about it. "My Father's fridge is full". Tell somebody else you've been going to who has been abusing you, "Your fish are not that delicious. My Father's fridge is full". Tell every Pharaoh that keeps you in chains of ways of believing and behaving and living and thinking and hurting and bleeding and starving, "My Father's fridge is full! Goodbye, Pharaoh! I've got a Father! Goodbye, pigs! I've got a Father"! It's full. He has all the comfort you need. He has all the joy. You haven't been needing the wrong things; you've been getting them from the wrong place. It's an acquired taste. The truth is an acquired taste when you've been eating lies all your life.
So, the Lord said we should think about comfort food today. We should ask ourselves the question: "Why do I crave what I hate, and what would be a better way to get it"? Like, practically. There is a better way inside of God to get this done. For everything that's destroying your life, I want you to realize your Father has it. Every decision you make, here's what you're deciding: "Am I going to get it from Pharaoh or am I going to get it from my Father"? One is a chain restaurant. It's going to keep you stuck right where you are in Egypt. But the other one… If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. The key to everything I'm trying to teach you is in Numbers 11:4. When the Israelites craved the meat of Egypt, it all started because of the rabble that was with them.
You may ask me, "Pastor Furtick, I know what rabble is, but just for the other people who don't study their Bibles as much, what exactly do you mean by rabble"? When I show you this, you're going to understand. Listen to me by the Spirit of God. I'm not playing with your emotions here. I'm telling you what God showed me. When you see what the rabble was, you will begin to understand why you've been craving things you hate that destroy you. When the Israelites left Egypt, they had to do it in a hurry. They did it in the middle of the night.
Some of your life has been like that. You've just been trying to stay one step ahead of something really bad. Survival mode. Stay with me. I know I've said a lot, and I know I cooked too much, but get some Tupperware and take this home. Exodus 12:38 describes it, when they left in the darkness, about two million strong, six hundred thousand men, women, and children; when they left on foot like that, and they got everything they could in their hands from the Egyptians, and they left Egypt where they were enslaved, where they went to originally be fed, which represented the place of bondage, which represents what you might be leaving this year, or trying to leave.
Here's what happened: "Many other people went up with them…" That's the rabble. When it says, "The rabble with them began to crave other food," it's the Egyptians who left with them who were not one of them. So, when you left Egypt, all of Egypt didn't leave you. I'm not talking about people. I'm talking about perspectives, patterns. I'm talking about the things that went with you. You're in Christ. You're a new creation, but don't be alarmed when some of the old cravings are still there. That's the rabble. God said the first step to receiving…
This is what I'm going to teach about for the next few weeks. Are you ready? I'm going to pick this up next week. We're going to talk about having room to receive in your life. I feel like it's our series for the new year: room to receive. In order to have room to receive the new things…the grapes of Canaan, the promises of God, the good things, the encouragement, the life, the joy, the honey, the sweetness, the things God has called you to savor, the truth that is already in you but keeps getting crowded out by the lies, by the rabble, by the routines, by the attitudes, by the beliefs, by the behaviors, by the limitations, by the examples you've seen… I just spelled the word rabble.
Go back and check it. It's all of those things. It's the routines, it's the attitudes, it's the beliefs, it's the behaviors, it's the lies, the limitations you believe, and it is the examples you have seen set that keep you reaching for Egypt's fish when Canaan's grapes are right in front of you. I want you to remember going into this new year that before you can receive the blessing, God has to remove the rabble.