Steven Furtick - How God Uses Your Confusion
But we will subjugate our relationship with God to our feelings. Notice this. The cloud didn't ask the children of Israel, "Do you feel like moving today? Would this be a good time? Did I catch you at a bad time"? God doesn't consult their mood, see if they feel like moving. I don't have to feel it. I'm not being led by my feelings; I'm led by my priorities. It is the difference between mature faith that will get you through the wilderness and the kind of faith that goes up and down and flows like this and has you going all around to all different people all the time. God sent them the cloud to teach them to prioritize.
Some people came to church today because they felt like it. Other people came to church today because this is the day the Lord has made. I set this time aside, and the less I felt like it, the more I knew I needed to do it. "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness". That is a statement of priority, not a statement of feeling, not a statement of preference. If I did everything I felt like doing, I would have a prison ministry, from inside the prison.
If I preached when I felt like preaching, you would hear three sermons a year from me. I didn't preach because I felt like it, although I did today. I feel like preaching today. I can't explain it. A little extra caffeine will work a wonder in your soul. But even if I didn't feel it, it's 11:30, and here come the people, and the Word of God is here, and somebody needs it. It's preaching time. It's praising time. I don't lift my hands because I feel like lifting my hands. I do it because he's worthy. How many worship him because he's worthy? That's why I seek him: he's worthy. That's why I offer him the honor: he's worthy. That's why I'm staying where he told me to stay: he's worthy.
You don't stay married 15 years being nice when you feel led to be nice. You stay married 15 minutes. But if it's your priority… God is my priority. One way of saying this is he's at the center of my life. Think about that. The tabernacle is in the wilderness. It's a portable tabernacle. Many of our locations at Elevation Church still meet in rented facilities. It means we have awesome volunteers come early, stay late, set up, tear down. Some of y'all didn't come to Elevation during that season, and those of you who did are thanking God that those days are over. That's where you find out who your really faithful people are, hauling those trailers in Winston-Salem and in and out. We have portable locations.
Well, we didn't start that. God started that. He not only told them how to build the tabernacle when Moses went up and sought him for six days in the cloud, and after seven days in the cloud God spoke… Some of you leave too soon before God speaks. When it's cloudy, you quit listening, but that's where God speaks: in the valley, in the cloud. He told them how to build the tabernacle, but he also told them where to put it. He told them, "Make sure you set it up in the middle of the camp so that everybody has to face it, so that all of the tribes standing under their different banners have to face the same center".
When I look at my life, I realize that not only is God leading me but he is leading me from the center. The cloud would hover above the tabernacle, and the tabernacle would stay in the middle. Watch this. This is so powerful. I should demonstrate it. Come here, Jordan. Come here, Buck. Come here, JJ. Wherever they went, this had to stay in the middle. Sometimes we are so paralyzed about where God is positioning us, so we go, "Does God want me to take this job or that job"? and we become really flaky. We won't commit to anything. We're moving all around. "I don't know. Did God want me to marry him"? You married him 27 years ago. That is a done deal.
Now what you have to do is keep the presence of God in the middle. When God moves, you just have to… Of all of the ways God could have led them, this is a strange scenario. How many would agree this is strange? If you want the people to get up and go, put them on a schedule. That's just some parenting advice, by the way. You decide to have a baby. Put them on a schedule. God does the exact opposite of what every parenting book tells you to do. He wants to teach his children something. The Bible says that sometimes the cloud would stay for two days, and then it would move, so they had to move, because they had to keep the thing in the middle. Then it would stop, and they would stop. Sometimes the cloud would stay for a year.
I want you to think about this. Somebody has to stay up all night. There are millions of people. We just read the Bible and think, "Wouldn't that be cool if God would give me a cloud to show me which job to take, what school to put my kids…"? No, it wouldn't be cool. It would be horribly inconvenient, because you'd always be thinking, "Are we moving today"? Then just about the time you would unpack in the spot you were in, it would start moving again.
The craziest thing about this whole scenario that is not mentioned in the text but is implied is they weren't really going anywhere. If you know your Bible… You know your Bible, Jonathan. At least you should. You're an ordained minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Buck is just a security guy. No, he's actually a great example. I met him in college. I liked him because he was a wrestler, a successful wrestler. He won a state championship. He fought in MMA tournaments. They were illegal, unsanctioned MMA tournaments with interns at Elevation Church, but that's not my point. I met him on an internship. The whole time I was at the internship I was complaining. I didn't see Buck until seven years later. I didn't know when I was doing the internship that he and I would travel… We've been to six continents together preaching the gospel now.
Sometimes he's an illustration. Sometimes he's making sure everything is set so I can minister. God had to take me all the way through an internship I didn't even want to be at. We went to Hohhot, China, together. We got chased through Chinese nightclubs together. Sketchy stuff. Before social media, thank God. God was guiding us for where he knew he was taking us, but he had to take us the long way for something he wanted us to pick up along the way. If I hadn't have done that internship… If I had gone to Charleston Southern University, there would not have been a Holly Boitnott. (Oh yeah, her last name was worse than Furtick when I met her. She got an upgrade on Furtick, and that is no small feat.)
I couldn't go to Charleston Southern. They had to take my scholarship away, because I had to go to Tigerville, South Carolina, in the mountains, in the woods, where boys and girls are not even allowed to look at each other across the street because it's a Baptist school. I had to go to the Baptist school to get a Boitnott girl, because God knew he was calling us to… I'm trying to say that if you keep God in the center, you don't have to know where you're going. Just keep the guide in the middle. He's guiding me, and he is teaching me to prioritize his presence. He will not do it in a way I can predict, because my tendency is to turn God into a formula. You know as well as I do that if God had moved that cloud at 7:00 p.m. every Friday, they would have become more dependent on the system than the source. He loves you too much to let your faith become a formula.
Can I say this? I need permission even though you don't know what I'm going to say. I need you to trust my integrity. God is using your confusion. I can hear it right now. On 1 Corinthians 14 on Facebook… There are people who sit around on Facebook, and they have nothing better to do. On this clip they're going to say, "But God is not the author of confusion". I read the same verse. It's talking about having an orderly worship experience, so it says, "God is not the author of confusion". In other words, "Don't everybody try to talk at one time or nobody is going to hear what anybody is saying". That is the context of that verse. He's not the author of confusion. That doesn't mean he won't use confusion.
Do you know what I believe? The only path to true confidence is through confusion, because only after you've been through the confusion and after you've been through the valley can you say, "The Lord is my shepherd". He told them, "I'm going to put you in that wilderness for 40 years, but while you're there, I'm going to train you to trust me". See, we are so destination-minded, but the cloud didn't move because they needed a new destination. Study this sometime. They got manna wherever they set up camp. The only reason God moved them around was so they wouldn't get stuck in one system. God said, "I don't want you to get stuck in a system that will short-circuit your faith, so I'm going to allow life to throw you off balance from time to time, and I'm going to put you in some situations where you don't feel certain," because you can't have your certainty and God's confidence.
"So I sent the cloud to guide you. I sent the cloud to teach you to prioritize my presence". The cloud was above the tabernacle. How many know not only is he central but he is above? God has exalted Jesus and given him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee…every sickness, every disease, every worry, every attack, every fear…every knee will bow, every tongue will confess. I feel God guiding me right now. I feel these words going right into your heart. Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Notice the Scripture says it was a pillar of cloud. A pillar is an image of stability. How can you have stability if what you're following keeps moving?
So Jesus is getting ready to be taken up. He's resurrected from the dead. I'm fast-forwarding a couple thousand years. He looks at his disciples, and he knows, like the children of Israel, they have never been this way before. He has a mission for them. He said, "You will receive power". God's presence is God's power. It's not an accessory. It's not a bonus feature. God's presence is God's power. Up until this time, they have been relying on God's presence in the visible form of Jesus Christ, but you have to watch this. Something shifts. Just before Jesus leaves the earth… He has already taken the keys to death, hell, and the grave. He has already paid the price for the sin that stood and kept record against us. He has already nailed your condemnation to the cross. He has already carried your shame. He has already borne your burden.
He has already taken your sorrow, and now he's standing, resurrected, and is about to ascend into heaven to be seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. He looks at his disciples and says, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends… I am sending you into an unstable world with a sure foundation, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth". Watch this. "When he had said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight".
They couldn't see him anymore, but they didn't need to see him anymore, because when he sent his Spirit… They got a GPS. I don't have to stay lost and lonely and confused and uncertain anymore. Jesus said, "Today is the day. All systems go. Today is the day you get your driver's license, and you will receive power when the Spirit comes on you".