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Steven Furtick - Beta Blessings

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Steven Furtick - Beta Blessings

This is very well known in church circles. I don't know if you've ever heard it before. I hope some of you haven't, because we want to reach people who have never gone to church before. Don't feel bad if you don't know what this means when I read it and the church people all start shouting and you're like, "What"? That's all right. Look at this Scripture in Revelation 22:12. "Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes…"

I want to preach about blessings today, but not just any kind of blessings. There are all kinds of blessings. I want to talk to you very specifically about Beta Blessings. That's my subject today. Let's begin our study of the Word of God. Do you know beta? I don't mean a sorority or something like that. Alpha, beta, gamma. I don't want to bring any flashbacks to the people of God. I don't mean blood pressure, like beta blockers. I saw that on an infomercial. I don't mean that. I don't mean in the stock market where it measures the stock. Not that kind of beta. That's not what I'm thinking of. Not the Beta Club I was in in eighth grade. That's not what I'm talking about. Chunks always does this. He always signs up for the beta versions of software. I guess he's an early adapter, which is so funny, because when he first started the church, he didn't even know how to use a spreadsheet, and he was the CFO. He had a notebook with a Golden Retriever on the cover of the notebook, and all of the church finances were in it.

There wasn't much to write down, so it was all right. That was the beta version of Elevation Church, the beta version of our bookkeeping. Now there are all of these audits and committees and subcommittees and everything like that. Now he's always telling me about the new software. Graham was laughing at me the other day. He said I needed the new iPhone 12, and I said, "I didn't know I missed 11". He said, "You need the 12 junior". What's it called? The mini. I love to make them cringe. That's why I do that. I pick out stuff I can say to make them cringe. That's my favorite thing. It's just a privilege of being the pastor and having your kids in church. The iPhone 12 junior. They hate it. They hate it so much. I don't know. I'm not a beta guy. Chunks will get all this new software and it'll be the beta version, which means, of course, it's still being tested. He likes it, and I'll be like, "Is that good, that new operating system"? and he's like, "I don't know yet. It's in the beta version".

So, I put this sermon in my phone. I was looking at the note in my iPhone X senior. I put this sermon, Beta Blessings, in my phone, and I checked on the info tab on my Evernote, and it said I put it in in 2018. It has been that long in my phone. Then there comes a time when God will prompt me to release it and preach it. When I put it in my phone, Beta Blessings, I was thinking about the things God does in our lives in certain seasons that, at first, we're not sure if it's a blessing because it's in beta. When I wrote this sermon down in 2018 and couldn't figure out exactly how to preach it, I thought it was wasted. It wasn't wasted; it was in beta.

We've been following the Israelites through the wilderness, and they are in between seasons. I read you a Scripture where Jesus said, "I'm the Alpha and Omega". That is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, alpha, and the last letter, omega. That's why he says, "I'm the Beginning and the End". In the last book of the Bible, he says, "I am Alpha and Omega". I want you to write this down: Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, but I need a beta blessing for the spaces in between.

When the Israelites were in the wilderness, God was with them. He never stopped being with you. He's not waiting for you at some future destination. "I want to get closer to God this year". That doesn't come five Bible books you've memorized later. Then a lot of times, we'll be like, "God, bring me back to the love I had when I first met you," which is typically overrated in our imagination, because we weren't as holy as we like to tell ourselves we were when we first met him. When you say he's the Alpha and the Omega, you have to also mention that he is also beta. That's in between alpha and omega. That's where we need his presence the most.

How many understand that when a new year changes and a new year begins and there's so much excitement or when a new year ends and there's so much desperation… We've kind of missed the point that some of God's greatest blessings are beta. Some of God's greatest blessings are in the form of manna. I don't know if you've been watching the sermons or slacking off, but I'll catch you up real quick. I've been talking about manna in the wilderness. He gave them manna, which means "What is it"? Isn't that cool? They needed food, and God gave them something, and they didn't recognize it as a blessing at first. "What is it"? That's what manna means. Manna also means what it is. It is what it is, and I don't yet know what it's going to be.

That's true about your life, and that's true about the thing you're praying about right now. That's true about everything God has put inside of you. I want to look at this real quick because it's so powerful. In Joshua, chapter 5, it gives us a picture of this transition. It says, "The day after the Passover…" This is the Israelites. After going through the wilderness for 40 years, after dealing with the situation for 40 years, the Bible says they celebrated the Passover, and they ate some of the produce of the land that God had promised. What kind of bread? I preached about this last week. They came out of Egypt with unleavened bread. They didn't have the time for it to rise, but they had to go.

Sometimes you have to set out with a word from God not knowing all of the details. Even Abraham had to do this. God said in Genesis, chapter 12, to Abraham… This was before he even had an H in his name. This was before Vanna White even sold him… This was back in the times when Vanna White used to manually turn the letters. Some of y'all don't know. This was a long time ago. This was back in the very beginning. Did I just preach Wheel of Fortune by accident? Yes, I did. I did it on purpose too…for the real ones. Watch this. Before Abraham knew where he was going, he had to leave what he knew. Don't quit your job. Don't sign a divorce paper. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about abandoning your way of thinking.

The Lord said in Genesis 12:1, "Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you". Do you notice how specific God was about what he was leaving from and how vague God was about what he was going to? That's where beta blessings are required. That's the beta version of the blessing of God. Follow it a verse farther. This is God's original blessing to his people coming through Abraham, the father of our faith too. The nation of Israel would all come through this one man, but it was still in beta. The Lord had such a big vision for how he wanted to use Abraham as a blessing. "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing".

One more verse. Let me show you how big this is, what God had in mind to do through Abraham. Let me show you how big this is, what God had in mind to do when he created you. Let me show you how big the picture is that God sees while you're so zoomed in on the part of your life that you don't like. He said, "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you". Do you see how big that blessing was? But it was still in beta. Correct me if I'm wrong, but when they have it in beta, they don't release it to everybody. You have to sign up for that. God was going to bless the whole earth through Israel, not just them, but we encountered them the last few weeks in the wilderness while they were still in beta.

The Lord told me I'm preaching to some people today who are in the beta version. When it's in the beta version, they're usually working out some bugs. That's why I don't put it on my phone until later. I want to wait until they get all of the bugs out. I wonder. Did God take his people through the wilderness for 40 years, around and around in circles, to get the bugs out? I wonder. Has God left some of the things in our lives in a holding pattern or brought us into spaces where we're not getting what we're praying for or it's not happening as fast as we want it to because maybe he wants to get the bugs out?

So I'm praying a prayer over my life this week. "God, get the bugs out". I don't want to release a version to the world… Before I preached this message to you, I preached it to myself so I could get the bugs out, because before I release it, before I put it out on YouTube where everybody with a broadband connection and an opinion can judge it, I want to make sure it's what God wants to say. I had it in my phone three years to preach to you, because God wanted you to have it right now, but it wasn't wasted; it was in beta. God said, "There's some stuff you prayed for, there's some stuff you asked for, there's some stuff I know you need… It's in beta".

This relationship isn't a bad relationship; it's in beta. This song I'm working on isn't a bad song; it's just in beta. That book I worked on last year that's not ready to be released yet wasn't a waste of time; it's in beta. I put it in a box in my room to remind myself that Lazarus might go in a box for a minute, but he will rise again. When we get too attached to the beta version, it puts God in a box. Let's go deeper. The manna was not meant to be on the menu permanently; it was a seasonal provision. When the manna went away… I don't know if you saw that in Joshua 5. At first they thought, "This is really bad". How many of you had something in your life last year that you went, "This is really bad"? The manna was what God gave them in between. That's what I mean by beta blessings.

I'm someone who really fights for my relationships. I don't throw people away. There are people in this room right now who are on my staff who I should have fired 15 times, and they probably should have been mad at me and left, but I'm loyal. I really am loyal. Sometimes, in that effort to be loyal… Not necessarily to a person. I always want to be good to people. If I'm your friend, I'm your friend. But sometimes I'm loyal to something the Lord used in one season at the expense of something he's bringing in this season. I want to take that off of people, and I want to take that off of jobs, and all of the ways we use sermons as an excuse to not have perseverance.

Let it sink in. This is not a confirmation for you to quit, but it is a command for you to grow. Elevation Church… They used to call it "Evolution Church," and I'm like, "Well, both are right". I'm not talking about Darwin, "From the goo to the zoo to you," or any of that. I'm saying, like, change, and it always changes. But isn't there a temptation…? A rabbi wrote this. He said our wisdom is distinguishing between those things which must remain unchanging in our lives and those changes we should accept and embrace. I read it over and over again. I wrote it out. I read it. I said, "Lord, show me that".

In Joshua 5, once Moses had taken the people as far as they could go, he was, I guess you could say, in some ways, beta. Not like a beta male. I don't mean it like that. Not that he was passive. I'm saying he was what God gave them to get them to a certain place. God gives you that. He gives you instruments. He gives you provisions. He gives you manna. When Joshua led the people to the edge of God's promise, the manna stopped. That was bad. No, it wasn't. It was beta. I want you to shift your mind this week and see things in your life that are in development and be able to say, "It's not bad; it's in beta".

When the real product gets finished, they update it. You don't keep the beta version on your phone forever. When they came to the edge of Canaan, when God gave them the ability to sow and reap, they couldn't go out of their tents and just collect the manna anymore. By the way, this is underscored so brilliantly in Exodus, chapter 16, where it said they were to go out and get the manna they needed for that day. When they tried to keep the manna too long for the next day and didn't have the faith that God would put it there, it would rot, it would stink, and there would be maggots in the manna. What God gave them became infested with their lack of faith. When they kept the manna too long, when they kept the beta too long, guess what got in it. Bugs. Do you see it?

It said the maggots would eat the manna, but if they used what they were supposed to use, if they did what they were supposed to do, if they moved to the rhythm of the voice of God, there would always be more manna. If we want to watch all of these economic predictors and we want to watch all of these social conclusions and we want to watch all of these talking heads who say the worst things to keep us watching, then we will have maggots in our manna. God gave us certain things for seasons, and it's time to grow up. Oh, I'm the worst about this. I'll find something that works, and I'll just keep doing it.

When I used to preach sermon series, that was a blessing. I told Holly the other day I used to need to plan my sermon series 12 weeks in advance when I started so I could have time to study. I didn't know what I was doing. "You still don't". Thanks a lot. (I just say it so nobody else can. It's a deeply embedded insecurity that manifests in me being sarcastic onstage in front of thousands of people.) I used that as a way to study. "Okay. I'm going to preach on this and that and the other," and it let me study. Over the course of years, though, the way God began to speak to me… I'm just using this as an example. You would have your own. I would start to use that as a crutch, and it would keep me from speaking what God was saying to me right now and trusting him in the moment, because I would rely on the structure, not the Spirit.

There's nothing wrong with sermon series, and maybe God will use that again one day, but right now I've noticed the Lord has me in a different place. To do that takes trust. Do you remember Malachi 3? "Bring the tithe into the storehouse". Some of y'all have PTSD over that Scripture. "Bring the tithe or God is going to curse you. Bring the tithe or God is going to puncture your lung. Bring the tithe or you're going to have a flat tire". It has all been done. I don't think that Scripture is about just tithing 10 percent. It is about that, but it's about trust. It's about trusting God to transform you. It's about trusting God to teach you. It's about trusting God in the transitions of your life.

So, he's saying to the nation… I couldn't believe when I saw this. This is what set it off for me. "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this…" Test. That's an important word. That's what they do in beta. They test the product. That's what God did in the wilderness. He tested his people. Not because he didn't know. He wasn't trying to get information about them. He wasn't doing Enneagram on the Israelites. It's testing where the bugs get worked out, where I learn not to be petty, offended, and paranoid and to rely on God as my source. He said, "Test me". I'm like, "No, you test us". He's like, "No, no, no. I'm not the one who has bugs to begin with. I'm just getting things out of you".

Why? Why is God getting the bugs out of me right now? Here it is: "…and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing…" The test is to create space in my life. "I'll put so much blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it". Lord, I want to have room to receive. Anything you bring into my life, I want to have room to receive it. I can't do that. I can't have room to receive what you're bringing in my life if every square inch of my mind is occupied. Then the next verse said something crazier. He said, "Test me. See if I won't bless you". Verse 11. You're not going to believe this. "I will prevent pests…" There are the bugs again. "I'll get the pests out of your crops. I'll get the bugs out of your thinking. I'm working things out of you, because if I release it too soon, you won't be ready. So trust me in this space called the wilderness".

God is getting the bugs out. Some of you have really good kids. They're just buggy. I asked Chunks, "Is that software good? Should I get it"? He's like, "I don't know yet. It's buggy right now". But just because it's buggy in beta doesn't mean it's not good. When God gets done getting the bugs out of your kids, the things you spank them over, the things you put them in time-out over… I'm sorry. This is a very politically correct culture. It's 2021. I don't want to be canceled. The things that you encourage them strongly to modify their behavior.

How many of y'all have at least one strong-willed kid in your family? How many would say they're even borderline stubborn? Okay. You know how right now it's an immature form? It's going to be boldness. It's just in beta. I have some blessings, but they're in beta. Right now they feel like a burden, but it's a blessing. God is getting the bugs out of my crops. This year, my field will be a delightful one. My vine will produce its fruit in season. How many of y'all have a beta blessing right now…something God is working on, something God is doing, something God is perfecting, something God is establishing, something he's completing, something he's revealing, something he's reviving?

You've got it. I've got it in beta. I already know Alpha. I know who started it. I already know Omega. I know who's going to finish it. But watch me right now praise God in the beta stage. Work the bugs out. Get the bitterness out. Get the unbelief out. Get it out so that you will have room to receive it. It's just in beta. It's just in between. Are you blessed? "Yeah. It's in beta". It doesn't look like you're blessed. It doesn't look like a blessing. Some of the things that turn out to be the biggest blessings when they're in beta are the buggiest. How many of y'all ever bought a boat? It was a blessing for a minute, wasn't it?

Back when I was little we had a subscription service for music called…not Spotify…Columbia House. All my Wheel of Fortune, Columbia House saints, shout unto God with a voice of oldness. They would sell you 12 CDs for a penny. That's practically free. I heard the Israelites in Egypt talking about, "We had fish for free in Egypt". (Numbers 11:5) Yeah, and we also got beaten half to death in Egypt. It was free at first. You've already heard the masterful speech "Free at Last," but free at first. Those are the things that come into your life looking like a blessing, but they're not. You would send off this little card. Little did you know when you were sending off that card it was the first step toward a collection agency.

I had a collection agency on my back at age 13. Twelve CDs for free. And they were free… at first. But then there was the selection of the month. It was a negative billing kind of situation, where if you didn't send back this card, automatically here comes to your mailbox not the CDs you wanted… You'd go to your mailbox. "What's this"? You'd open it up. "It's Michael Bolton. I didn't want Michael Bolton". It was free at first. The Michael Bolton CD is $25. You go to your mailbox, open up the package, and they sent you Ace of Base. Like, "No! I wanted Motorhead Ace of Spades. This is Ace of Base".

It was terrible, but it was free at first. Then they keep sending you stuff you didn't ask for. It was free at first. I don't mean to get up in your fornication. It was free at first. I don't mean to get up in the things you do that are free at first. It could be a lot of things. Let's not just get on the sex stuff. I could talk about manipulation. Y'all like me saying fornication better than manipulation, because everybody in this room has tried to manipulate what God gave you at one point in time. It works at first until you're looking down at Spice Girls, wondering, "How am I going to pay for this"?

The fish were free at first. They said, "Fish in Egypt". My mind is really weird, so I get on a theme and I just stay there until I almost wear it out to death. The fish in Egypt is what they wanted to go back to. That's the same thing from the twelve tribes of Israel as the twelve disciples. I want to show you this continuity to show you a beta blessing. Do you remember when Peter in Luke 5 was fishing all night and caught nothing? That was a really frustrating thing, but his lack of success was actually a blessing because it set the stage for him to meet Jesus. At that exact moment, he's putting the boat up.

I know a lot of us have failed at things. I have. You have. It's hard to see those things as a blessing when they're in beta. While he's washing his nets and cleaning out all of the particles that would rot the nets so he couldn't use them again, the Lord goes and preaches in his boat and calls him to be a disciple. You want to talk about a blessing. They went from empty nets to sinking boats. For some of you, this is going to be a year of boat-sinking blessings. Do you receive that?

Some of those blessings will not come in the form of material possessions, although if you need that, may God do it for you. Some of those blessings will come in the form of things that no material possession can be exchanged for. It is going to be a year for some of us… I declare this over your life with no trace of sarcasm or manipulation. This is going to be a year of boat-sinking blessings in your life. Do you know how they're going to come? Not when you pray for a blessing but when you obey. What took the nets from being empty to being so full they couldn't even stand the catch was when Peter said in verse 5, "We've worked hard all night. This isn't working, but because you say so…" Pray to be blessed. Fine. Pray about it, but obey to be blessed.

So, beta blessing works better obey to be blessed. Not "I'll obey this when you bless me, Lord". Not "If you bless me, Lord". No. Just because it's the right thing, just because it's who I want to be, just because it's what I'm supposed to do, not because of something external. This is who I am. That's why I'm kind. That's why I'm going after it. That's why I'm still doing it. That's why I'm still serving: out of obedience. This is so awesome, because they went from empty nets to boat-sinking blessings. The question is…Will you have room to receive it? Peter didn't. He needed another boat. He needed more room to receive.

When the boats were so full of fish they couldn't hold them, he had to signal his partner. For this stage of your life, you are not going to be able to stay in isolation. I know you used to do that. You did that to survive. That's how you did it. You were a fighter, and you kept people off of you. You did that, but that is going to prohibit you from receiving in this season. You have to signal the other boat. There's so much to it. They haul in all of these fish. What a blessing. Then the craziest part of the text. When they caught the fish, they saw Jesus for who he was. When they caught the fish, he gave them a calling. They tried to push Jesus away. Peter said, "I'm a sinful man". Look at Luke 5:8. "I'm a sinful man". "No, you're not a bad man. You're just in beta. I have a plan for you. I have a work to do in you".

You're just in beta. Don't give up on yourself. You're just in beta. I know you're buggy and whiny. I'm just in beta. He's the Alpha and the Omega, and I'm in beta, and I'm blessed. Now, what I saw next challenged everything I thought I knew about the Bible. I thought Jesus blessed them to catch the fish. Then what happened in verse 10… They were astonished by the catch of fish, and so were the partners. He said, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will fish for people". Verse 11 got me. "They pulled up their boats and left everything," the blessing they just had. I read it, and the Lord said, "That's because the fish wasn't the blessing". That wasn't the blessing; that was the bait.

See, that miracle Jesus gave them wasn't the blessing; that was the bait. I'm not talking about beta; I'm talking about bait. I said, "What do you mean"? It was like I was having this conversation with the Holy Spirit. Not out loud, but just thinking about it, trying to go deeper in it. How did they leave the blessing they just had, and how can we do that? How can things be moving around in our lives and it seems like good things are going away, and how can I be okay with that? How can I move forward in that? How can I do it?

See, the catch of fish was just what God used to get them to their calling. It wasn't really the blessing. It was just the bait. The manna was just the means to get them to Canaan. That's all it was. It was just the beta, the bait. It was the bait God used. Like, when I went to college, I got a scholarship. Not a full scholarship, but enough scholarship that God gave me to get there. I thought that was a blessing, and it was, but it wasn't just a blessing; it was bait, because when I got to college, I went to BSU, which is the Baptist Student Union, and they asked me to be the greeter on the team. I thought that was good. I have a good personality. What a blessing that they want me to be a greeter. And it was, but it was also the bait.

Another person on the greeter team… Her name was Holly Boitnott. The artist formerly known as Holly Boitnott. When I met Holly Boitnott, I figured, "What a blessing to be on the welcome team of BSU with Holly Boitnott". But that wasn't really the blessing; that was just the bait, because then they asked me to be the leader of a summer ministry impact team that would go across the state of South Carolina to preach to people. I thought, "What a blessing. I'm the only freshman Mayson Easterling ever asked to do this. What a blessing that I get to do it". But that wasn't even the blessing; that was the bait, because he also said I get to pick my team members, so I circled back to the welcome committee.

I promise you God knows how to get you where he wants you to go. I want you to know the thing you thought was the blessing wasn't even it. That wasn't even all. That was just the beginning. "I am the Alpha and the Omega". That's just the bait. That's just the beta. You haven't seen your best self yet. You haven't seen your risen self yet. This is just the rough draft. There will be a revision. I'm in beta. God said, "Beta blessing". He said, "I have blessings I want to bring to you, so I'm using things as bait to get you in the places where I want you to be. I'm using the things you hate to bring you into the blessings you've prayed for". It wasn't even the blessing. That was just the bait. It does not yet appear what we shall be. I just got a glimpse of it right now. You think that acorn is sexy. There's an oak inside that acorn.

Oh, you thought the beta was good. Wait till God gets these bugs out. That's why you have to keep surviving and living and not kill yourself and not give into it. That's why. There is a blessing so big for Abraham. There is a blessing so big for you that you are a part of, not just to you but through you, for your family and your children and their children. So, God, if you want to release me into the world… God, I want you to get the bugs out. Not to make me perfect. I'll never be perfect. Peter walked away from the fish, followed Jesus, saw miracles, lost his faith at the cross, met him again after the resurrection. He's still in beta. After all he saw, he's still in beta. And you think you're supposed to be arrived by now?

Please don't put that pressure on yourself. I'm in beta. That's not an excuse for me not to grow. It's the reason why I have to. I want to see what I can be if I'm really free. It took me all the way to John 21. Something really strange occurs in the text. It seems like in the Bible the Israelites want to go back to the fish that were familiar, and it seems like so did the disciples. In John 21, the Peter who would receive Holy Spirit power and preach on the day of Pentecost… You have no idea what God is going to use you to do. You just don't know. You can't know what he has already done through you that you don't even know about. Peter did what we always do in that beta stage of our lives, the in between. Alpha is great; it's exciting. Omega is great; it's fulfilling. But beta? That's really different.

Middle school. Midlife. What do these things have in common? They are both the stages of life where we talk about people losing their minds. Why? Because it's the beta stage, the in-between stage. When I saw this in John 21:3, I judged Peter, because it said he'd already seen the risen Lord, and he said to his companions, "I'm going fishing". The fish represents what he was familiar with and what he was good at. He's trying to go back to beta. Peter is trying to be Simon again. Fighting the battles like you used to fight, doing it in your own strength, going back to old stuff that's not even part of the new creation. It's not even part of the original you. It's just layers. I don't want to judge him over a fishing trip. It isn't like he went to the strip club. He just went fishing.

I want to read it to you. Stand where you are. Receive this word. I want you to put your body in a posture that you're going to receive what I want to show you. "So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing". Sounds familiar. Sounds like Luke 5. Sounds like a few years ago. Sounds like the wilderness. Sounds like our habits, our addictions, 2019, 2020, 2021. Sounds like that. Well, Jesus shows up again at the point of what they perceived to be their failure, but it was really his whole point. I speak it over your life. Sometimes the failure is the goal because of how it positions you. The Lord waited until the last minute, until they got all of the bugs out, until they got their muscles sore, until they'd done all they could do.

"Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, 'Friends, haven't you any fish?'" Pay attention to this verse. "'No,' they answered. He said, 'Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.' When they did…" When they did something different, when they did it a different way. God is saying, "Do it a different way". This is what we've been talking about. This is what God has had me walking us through. Do it a different way. A different way to meet those needs that were put there by God, one that doesn't push him out of the picture, one that doesn't leave you feeling worse, fish you can eat that you don't choke on the bones, things that don't make you feel like crap in the morning, things that don't make you go farther and farther into isolation.

He said, "Friends, haven't you any fish"? Then when they threw it on the other side, they were unable to haul in the net because of the large number of fish. Boat-sinking blessing. "Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!' As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, 'It is the Lord,' he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water". I don't want to preach about that. I want to preach about this: "The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish…" The fish, the blessing. "…they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards". A football field. Now verse 9. "When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread".

I don't want you to miss the significance of this for your life. Verse 8 says they towed the net full of fish, and verse 9 says when they landed, they saw burning coals with fish already on it. Then Jesus in verse 10 says, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught". "Bring the blessing I just gave you". Next verse: "Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore". Peter is an alpha male. Always struggling. That's you. Always trying. "It was full of large fish, 153…" Who's counting? "…but even with so many…" This is the thing about God's blessing. It didn't break the net. That's the thing about God's blessing. It doesn't break the net.

I'll leave you with this thought, because I know you're full now, and I want you to be able to digest what you heard, but I should show you this. "Jesus said, 'Come and have breakfast.' None of the disciples dared ask him, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord". Verse 13 says, "Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish". The question is…Which fish: the ones they had just caught or the ones he had already cooked? All of the things we bring to God in our effort to do better, in our effort to be blessed… We find that when we get to the shore and recognize him for who he is, he's already cooking what we couldn't catch all night.

I don't know what our global church family is going through, because God doesn't see crowds; he sees people. But he must see someone who has been fishing all night and catching nothing. He must see somebody who's so frustrated you're about ready to just put the nets up, go home, quit trying, quit being present, and all of that, or he must see somebody who's stuck in a version of you that isn't really you. He had this message in my heart for three years, but today, this is the release date for you, for what you've been holding, for the expectation you've put on yourself that doesn't come from God. Right now, with your hands to heaven… I'll lift mine too. Let's just decide that we're not going to let the blessing of God that's in our life right now die in the wilderness.

Lord, I'm really thankful that you're the Alpha, because you began the good work in me. I'm really thankful that you are the Omega, because you'll finish it. Today I want to praise you for beta, the second letter of the Greek alphabet, the one that lets me know you're every step in between. I pray right now for every man, woman, boy, and girl who has been in beta. "Oh, I've got this issue. I've got this insecurity. Oh, I've got this thing". It's all right. It's just beta. I thank you that your blessings are more than fish. I thank you that your blessings are more than feelings. How we long, Lord, to eat the bread that doesn't perish, the food that doesn't spoil, and that's your Word. I thank you for every blessing and every battle you used to bring us to the place where we are right now. This is where we are supposed to be.

We praise you right now. We praise you with our mouths. We praise you with our hands. We praise you for the beta blessings. We worship you that nothing is wasted, not a crumb, not one jot, not one tittle. Not one word falls from your mouth that it does not produce. We thank you we're on the edge of Canaan. We are stepping into exceeding great and precious promises. When that which is perfect has come, that which is incomplete goes away. O God, we thank you for the manna, but today we're eating grapes. We thank you, God! We thank you for the law, but we're under grace. We thank you for Moses, but Jesus is our Joshua. We thank you! We honor you! We worship you!

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