Steven Furtick - Protect The Vessel
Welcome. We're glad you're here. What a privilege it is to gather together and praise God. I'm going to drive some of you crazy. I'm not giving you my sermon title until the end of the sermon today. So, if you have some anxiety medication in your purse for your disorder that you need to access at this point, that's just fine. Go ahead and be seated. I love being the pastor of Elevation Church. I wouldn't pastor another church if… I was going to say "…if God told me to," but I guess I would if he told me to, but I'd argue with him. I would argue a lot. It's such a great joy to be with you.
The world needs these messages right now. We see mass shootings and terror on every side that we turn. The world needs Jesus. As simple as that sounds, I just want to remind you that everything we're doing here as a church matters. People tell me about things that were averted in their life because of this church and this ministry. To be honest with you, that's what keeps me going, pushing through all the self-doubt I experience or even just the grind of… It's my sixteenth year of being a pastor. As long as God is changing lives, I think it's worth it. Today I'd like to give you something from the Scriptures that could come as a real preventive measure for somebody.
Go to Acts, chapter 28, right now. No time to waste. For the sake of context, let me get verses 42-44 in Acts 27. The reason I wanted to have you be seated is because this is a little lengthier Scripture, but I want to share everything God gave me with you. We have so much to talk about. "The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. But the centurion wanted to spare Paul's life and kept them from carrying out their plan". That's really cool, because they say it's like cancel culture these days. You hear a lot about canceling. The only one who can really cancel something, when you want to get down to it, is the one who created it; therefore, Paul got to live, no matter what the captain of the ship did or no matter what the prison guards decided. It says in verse 44, "The rest [of the prisoners] were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely".
Now let's go to verse 1 of chapter 28. "Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta". Which means honey…or refuge, but the literal meaning is honey. "The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, 'This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.' But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god".
That's how quickly people can flip, by the way. There's no better time for me to say this than Palm Sunday. Remember what they were saying on Palm Sunday? "Hosanna! Hosanna"! But they put the palm branches down Friday when he went to the cross. "Crucify him"! That's how quickly people can change. So, the people on Malta did what people do. They changed their minds, because they're fickle, because they're finite. It didn't really matter what they thought of Paul, though. Watch what happens next in the story. "There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days".
Isn't this cool how God is taking care of Paul through strangers? Isn't it amazing how God has favor for you everywhere he takes you? What's really crazy about the passage and what I want us to talk about a little bit today is that God's favor on that island was not disqualified by the mistake the sailors made in the sea. It's one thing to realize God puts his favor on you when you make good decisions and you're wise and you quote Scriptures and you had your time with God and Jesus and coffee this morning and you were nice to everybody. This is a little different, because God's favor was waiting for them in a place where their mistake landed them. So, Paul now gets invited to this dinner with this important guy on the island that they didn't even know the name of a couple of days ago. Then an opportunity comes up.
Now, I want to try to convince you today to become a Christian opportunist. It says while Paul was at this dinner, he discovered that Publius' father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. God was punishing this man for naming his son Publius is what I think. "Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. They honored us in many ways; and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed. After three months [in a place where we didn't plan to be] we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island—it was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux".
I want to encourage you today to protect the vessel. That's not my sermon title; that's just something I want to say to you from my heart to yours as a pastor. I know that seems like a strange thing to say after reading a Bible passage about a ship that fell to pieces and landed on an island. As you saw in the text, the vessel, as we use that term, the ship, completely lost its former structure. However, that's not really the vessel God is most concerned about. I think a lot of my problems in my own psychology come from protecting the wrong thing too much and protecting the right thing not enough. I don't mind admitting that I'm defensive.
I was telling a story the other day. Somebody asked me, "Are you confrontational"? I was like, "Let me tell you". This one guy one time was telling me, "Pastors ought to this, and pastors ought to that, and pastors ought to that". The thing is he wasn't doing anything that he said pastors ought to do. So, I said, "Hey, real quick, show me the Scripture (this is my Bible; maybe you have a different one) where it says there's a different standard for a pastor than a regular person". Don't cheer for that. That's stuff God needs to get out of my heart. What's wrong with y'all? This is a confession, not a testimony. But I'm defensive. I sometimes protect my opinion, my preference.
Let me give you a Scripture Paul said. Remember, Paul is writing this Scripture in 2 Timothy 2 at pretty much the time where his ministry is about to close. It's quite possibly right at the same time after the shipwreck, but he's writing this letter to Timothy. This is why I told you to protect the vessel. Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:20, "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work". If he purges himself from these, he shall be a vessel God can use.
I was excited… Don't worry about it, because I have a case for my phone, so it's fine. Do you have a case for your phone? I think the cockiest people in the world don't put a case on their phone. "You mean you are that together and that sure of yourself"? Did you hear how they gasped when my phone flew out of my hand? I practiced that 15 times to try to make it believable, because I wanted to show you that we have cases to protect our phones. How much was your phone…$500, $700, $300? We have a case for our phone, which you can get another one of, but they don't make a case for your soul, for your heart, for your faith, for your expectation. You can still use a phone with a cracked screen. It'll still work.
When the Lord started speaking to me about this message, he said, "Tell them they are spending more time protecting things that can be replaced…" I want to use an example. Paul says to Timothy, "These things". "Protect yourself from these things". Do you know what the things he mentions are? You can look it up. He's talking about false teaching. He said it spreads like gangrene. That's disgusting. He said you have to really protect yourself from those things. One thing he calls it is godless chatter. See, this is the thing about it. I didn't know Paul had Twitter until I read him say, "Protect yourself from godless chatter". He said avoid… This is the same passage, 2 Timothy 2. Look it up later and check me out.
See if I'm telling you the truth. It says, "Avoid stupid arguments". The reason I chose to go off Acts 28 today, talking about "Protect the vessel," is even though the boat that was carrying Paul broke into pieces, it wasn't as important what was carrying Paul as it was what Paul was carrying. There are a couple of ships in the passage. One of them is nautical. One of them does what boats do. But the other vessel in the passage, of course, is the apostle Paul, who was going to Rome because he had a case (double meaning) to stand before Caesar for the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, as he's on his way to Rome, of course, there's a shipwreck.
I've preached about this before. It's an amazing story. We don't have time for it today, but there's something in this passage for us to realize. There's something that happens after Paul survives the crash that is even more important than what caused the crash to begin with. I spend a lot of my mental energy trying to figure out why things are the way they are, and a lot of times I can come to conclusions that aren't necessarily accurate. I've noticed this about myself. A lot of times I connect things, and I think the reason this happened is because that happened. Now, I wouldn't consider myself prone to self-pity, necessarily, but I do have my moments. Even Paul did.
As a matter of fact, when he was in the storm… Let me just bring this up to refresh your memory. It became apparent that there was going to be a crash. He tells all of the people who are in charge of the ship, the other prisoners, in verse 21, "Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed". Which vessel is God interested in protecting? Read the passage again. He says, "You have to keep your courage even in the midst of really horrible conditions, because the important vessel isn't the one that carried you". The most important vessel, or the most important container isn't something that carries you. It is the heart God has given you, the calling, the assignment, the gift, the ability, the imagination God has given you to carry something to the world.
Now, we're not all Paul, so we're not all carrying what he was carrying, but the significance of this story would apply to anybody in the room. I promise you there is something you are carrying that only you can carry. I don't know if you see yourself this way or not, but it's like Paul knew, "Whatever happens to the boat I'm in, there is something in me that is more significant to God". So, whatever is breaking apart in your life at any given point in time is not as important as what God has put on the inside of you, so protect the vessel. Don't put a case on your phone but then use the same phone to expose your heart… Do y'all want me to preach? I could read a poem and go home. I already got the revelation. As a matter of fact, please do not email me about this. I barely even open emails, so it would be pointless.
I heard one person one time who talked about how they eat clean, eat clean, eat clean, and all of that. Granted, I have my own certain way I eat, and I am very, very picky, and I am very, very disciplined in my own way, but the only thing is I get to eat unlimited bacon on the eating lifestyle I have chosen that God has given me and foreordained through Dr. Atkins. Don't email me. I'm not going to read it. But the person who was eating clean… They didn't eat this. They didn't eat that. We went to the thing. They had bean sprouts. That's what I remember. What I remember is they were saying all this stuff. They were like, "Because if you eat this, you get killed with that, and then if you eat fish, then you have mercury poisoning, and then if you don't eat fish…"
So I sat there, and I thought, "Huh. This is funny". It was an example to me of you are so careful about what you will put in your body… And it's great. Study it all. I know; you know science. That's great. But it wasn't coming from just a place of wisdom. It was all fear based. "I read this study, and I saw this, and I Googled this disease, and I YouTubed that disease," and all this stuff. I thought, "It's funny, because you eat clean, but you think crap". This is what I thought. I didn't say this. You eat clean, but you think crap. So you live long, but you hate life. You are protecting the shed, but you're not maintaining the equipment. You're managing your profile, your image, your appearance, this physical body. It's going to break. Take care of it, but the real vessel has nothing to do with anything that can be counted in calories or carbohydrates.
That's why Paul says, "Let go of the boat and keep up your courage". It's okay. I have a case. It's all right. Then they get to the island, and Paul is like, "I told you. I told you God was good". "This is my testimony"! He's singing worship songs and stuff. "Jireh"! He had the bootleg YouTube version. He had learned it a long time ago. But he said, "Here, let me help". These islanders are being nice, so he's like, "I don't want to just sit over here and not help. If you're nice enough to build a fire, I'm nice enough to help". Just to read the Scripture again… He said, "Here, let me help," and when he was putting the wood on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand.
Have you ever been trying to help somebody and in the process of helping you got hurt? This is one of the main things you have to look out for. I've been in the process before where I thought I was doing something… It's awesome, because he's only trying to be useful and he gets bit by a snake. So, at this point, when I was reading the Scripture, I had to stop and ask the question, "Why did the snake bite Paul"? I'm going to see what you think about it. You're not going to just sit there and make me do all the work. Put it in the chat. Why did the snake bite Paul? On three. One, two, three! I don't know what they're saying online, but… Are y'all speaking in tongues? Is this the tower of Babel? What happened at Elevation Church?
"It was the Devil! That's how the Devil is. He's always picking on Paul at his weakest moment. He wants to take him out so he can't preach. This is the Devil"! Right? "The Devil is the snake… Genesis 3, the Serpent, the symbolism. Revelations"! Maybe it was the Devil. A snake bite… I guess that's the Devil. "No, it was God. It was God who let the snake bite Paul, because everything happens for a reason". People will say, "That's why you're single: because the Lord is preparing your ship in the harbor". It's like, "Shut up! I want somebody to watch Netflix with. Shut up"! "It was God who let that snake bite Paul, because, well, then Paul got to show that 'That snake can't hurt me. God is greater than the snake.' Graves into gardens, you know. So it was God". But it's not that deep, y'all. It says it in the text.
It's crazy how many somersaults we will do just to get around what the text actually said. It says the viper was driven out by the heat. It was nothing but a natural consequence of the fire. But watch what everybody was so quick to do. Watch what God wanted me to show you. While Paul has a snake hanging from his hand… This is unbelievable. I can't believe this. This reminds me of church people. Everybody is standing around talking about why he has a snake on his hand. Did you see it in the text? These kinds of people get on my nerves. "That's why you're going through that. If you would have raised your kids on the books I read, then your kids wouldn't be struggling with this". "Well, when I raised my kids, we had prayer times at 8:30 for Matthew 8:30". I don't even know what Matthew 8:30 says. "And we would sit around… If you would train them up, that would have been…"
Now, it says the islanders were kind. They built a fire. These were not evil people, even though they were strange people, but something in even the nicest human heart has a tendency to want to do this. In the Scripture it says that while a snake was hanging from Paul's hand, while a snake was hanging from the man of God's hand… This could have killed him. Verse 4. We would never get to verse 5 if Paul would have listened to what they said in verse 4. This could have killed Paul. This. "When the islanders saw the snake, they said, 'This man must be a murderer.'" They are interpreting his identity through the lens of an event. "If this is happening, then you must be…" "This man". The pointer finger. It's like the logo for a lot of Christianity. Those people. That lifestyle.
"If this man was a good man, he wouldn't be going through this". "If you had not wasted that season of your life, then God could have blessed you like that. If you would have listened, if you would have been in church, if you would have…" I never saw any power released through a pointing finger. Personally, I never saw it. When you read in the Bible, you read a lot about the hand of God much more than the finger of God. This kills. This heals. So, while we're talking about the Devil, let me tell you what Satan means: accuser. That's Satan's logo, not God's. So if it's like this, that's probably not God. Don't get me wrong. There comes a time for strong teaching. I had somebody tell me the other day, "I love you because you scream at me". I said, "You're welcome. I'll keep doing that". (They said when I was preaching. It wasn't like a personal thing. I just want to clarify that. It could be taken the wrong way.)
God isn't really… He certainly could have done that to Peter when he did this stupid "get out of the boat" trick. "I'm coming, Lord". "Not very far you're not". But I didn't see Jesus do that to Peter. I saw him do that. What you have to decide in this moment of your life is between the pointing finger and the healing hand. That's my title: The Pointing Finger & the Healing Hand. If Paul believes what the people say about him in this moment, he dies. That's true of some of you. In fact, the problem with a ship comes not when it gets in the water but when the water gets in it. I had to realize that protecting the vessel in my life means not believing everything that everybody thinks about me, including me. The most dangerous and sabotaging form of this does not come from other people's finger in your face. If the Enemy has his way with you, he will have you in the mirror saying, "This is the problem. It's me".
Now the next thing you know, you don't even see a way forward anymore. What got me about the passage is it is not guaranteed that Paul is going to survive if he holds on to what is hurting him. I want you to imagine this against the context of Exodus 4. Exodus 4 is God calling Moses, another great man of God, another man of God who even in spite of his own proclivities… He was a murderer. They're pointing their finger at Paul. "This man is a murderer". He's not. He's a messenger. Moses was a murderer. He killed an Egyptian trying to do God's will his way. But God didn't come to Moses pointing. He asked him a question in Exodus 4. "What is that in your hand"? Moses said, "What I have in my hand is a staff, and it's a very common object".
Now here's the contrast. For Moses to see God's power, he had to throw down the stick, and it became a snake. For Paul to see God's power, he had to throw down the snake. What I have done to myself in some seasons of my life is I have held on to what was hurting me. How long are you going to let a snake have free rent on your hand? It's just a question. I get disappointed too. I get offended too. I get bitter too. One of my titles that I thought I shouldn't call this sermon was "Bit Not Bitter". Here's the way I was thinking about it. It can't kill you if it only penetrates the skin. It can't kill you if all it does is break the skin. The snake only kills Paul if he allows the venom to get in the vessel. That's the only way it stops you. It's a surface wound if you do this. But we make trophies out of our trials, and we hold on to them so tightly.
We overidentify with the events ourselves so that we become identified by our experiences. We start saying to ourselves what the islanders were saying about Paul. "You must be a bad woman. You must be a screwup. You must be trash. You must be worthless. You must be slow. What's wrong with me"? Have you said that a lot lately? "What's wrong with me that nobody wants to be with me? Why doesn't anybody stay in my life? Why doesn't anybody want to be around me? Why don't the things that happen for other people so easily happen to me? Why can't I be happy like they're over there so happy"? That's not God. This is. Why is the Enemy's primary strategy accusation? Because if he can keep you doing this, you'll never do this.
Here's how resentment works. Paul in this moment could have gone, "This is so stupid that I'm on this island. This is so stupid that the fire… Nobody else got bit by a snake". I mean, think about what Paul could have said in his heart. All of these other prisoners… "God must be punishing me. That's what everybody else is saying. Maybe they're right". I went through a season in ministry where so many people were saying a certain thing about me I started to act like I had to prove them wrong. So a lot of my ministry, if I look back through a certain season, was me up here being like, "I do study my Bible…in the Greek, in the Hebrew, in the Pig Latin…"
I'm busting out every language I ever learned…hieroglyphics…just to get you to see I'm not what you think I am. "He's an entertainer". But when I looked deeper, it wasn't what they were saying that had the power to contain me, control me, or limit me in my ministry effectiveness or humanity. It was "Will you do what Paul did? Will you do this"? Because when you do this, now you can do this. Pointing fingers or healing hands. They're watching him so closely. They're going, "Let's see if he gets better". I don't think Paul really cared much about the audience at this point, because he knew he had an appointment in Rome. His security and his purpose made him impervious to the opinions of others.
Did you catch what God just said to you? There is a sense in which when you know God's hand is on you, when you know it's God's hand… Even in the mistakes. Even in the decisions of others. This is what takes us some time to believe: God is sovereign even over the screwups of others. Let me get to the good part. I preached about that a few weeks ago, so let me get to the good part. The people thought he was going to die. He didn't. Nothing unusual happened to him. They changed their minds and said he was a god. Paul knew he was neither. "I'm not a murderer. I'm not a god". I wrote a song lyric the other day. "I'm no beggar. I'm no king. Guess I'm something in between". I want to put that in a song one day. Maybe I will. But I was reading how they were like, "He's a god. He's a murderer". He's like, "I'm neither. I know who I am. God told me who I was". Acts 27. "Before I even went through the storm, God told me who I was. So, I'm not looking to you to define me now that I'm on this shore called Malta. I don't even know you like that".
Watch this in Acts 27:23. This is anointed. "Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong…" There it is. "…and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar…'" You have a case in Rome. "…and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you". But Paul wasn't busy doing this, because if he blamed those who were responsible for shipwrecking him on this island, he would never see what God wanted to do on the island while he was there. It set me free. There's no power in this. When you place blame, you give power. If they put you in the situation, they have to get you out.
So when Paul does this, it's his way of saying, "It's not whose fault it was that matters. It's not what you think about me that matters. The only thing that matters in this moment in this season of my life is this". "Get that fellow over here, the one the snake bit and he didn't die. I want to meet him". Publius didn't ask for any other prisoners. Just the one who got bit and didn't get bitter. I'm not just being cute. I would have been bitter. I would have been like this. "You told me to preach. You told me to share the gospel. You said you would protect me, and I'm the only one who got bit". But this won't get you healed either. You can do it. God's not scared of it. You can do it. It's fine. But when you get done with that, are you ever going to get to this?
In a marriage, I promise you, one thing I know. This heals; this kills. I'm just trying to help you see something. This kills. It kills communication. It kills empathy. This heals. I just saw it like a picture. This is only going to get you to a certain place. And it's important. All of us can point to something in our lives right now that is making us weak, and that's fine. That's totally fine for the snake to fasten itself to your hand. It's not okay for you to hold on to it longer than you're supposed to. We can all point to something in our past that caused the way we're struggling with a character defect today, and that's fine. It only gets you so far. The real question when Paul shows up and gets in Publius' house and discovers there's an opportunity…
Remember I said a Christian opportunist? A worldly opportunist is when I see something that looks like a good opportunity, I give my all to it. When I see somebody who I think can give me an advantage, I'm nice to them. That's a worldly opportunist. A Christian opportunist realizes the great strengths hide in weakness. A whole island gets healed because of a sick man. The sick man only encountered the great apostle because of a snake-bitten hand. Let me make sure you see the connection. Why did the snake bite Paul? The fire. It doesn't say God made the snake bite Paul. Paul determined after the fact that he would use this too.
I want to say to somebody, and I feel like it's not somebody who's in the room: God is going to use this too. We all know about the ship that carries us to God's purpose, the ship that gets us some places, but the snake took Paul to Publius' house. God is going to use this too. I didn't say he caused it. Don't put the words in my mouth. I didn't say he caused it. God is going to use this too. I want you to make the confession out of your mouth by faith. "God is going to use this too". So, Paul goes, "This? Cool". Boom! Not this. "It was your fault I'm on this island! You stupid wood"!
Have you ever hit a wall? I've hurt my knuckles hitting inanimate objects. Paul didn't punch the wood. A lot of us go around, physically speaking, swinging at stuff that can't swing back. Oh, it's the government. Oh, it's this, it's that. This is only going to get me so far. I've got to do this. I've got to go have dinner with Publius and see why God put me on this island that wasn't on my itinerary. God said that some of you are going today from a posture of pain to a posture of power, but it's going to be a different kind of power. It's going to be a 2 Corinthians 4 kind of power.
In 2 Corinthians 4, the great apostle Paul says, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels". We have this glory in messy situations. We have this hope in choppy waters. We have this certainty in a crazy, chaotic world. We have this treasure in human weakness. We have this confidence in great chaos. We have this treasure in earthen vessels. We have this healing in snake-bitten hands. He went into Publius' father's bedroom, and in Acts 28, he did something really important that I want you to do. This is how you protect the vessel. Are you ready? Verse 8: "Paul went in to see him and, after prayer…" I want you to pray about it. "I am praying about it". No, you're not. You're ruminating. You're worrying about it. You're freaking out.
I'm going to do a sermon maybe after Easter called "You're Underthinking It". Everybody says, "I overthink things". No, you underthink things. You only process stuff at the level of your thought, never at the level of your spirit. He did something so simple. He prayed, because he knew he couldn't give any healing to Publius' father if he had venom in his own vessel. As we picture this, I want you to picture yourself in this season of your life. Here you are. "I should be here. I should be there". Pointing at where you should be will not result in progress or peace. We could all do that. "I thought I'd be… I should have been… If they wouldn't have, then I would have". Pointing with both hands. But watch this. After he prayed… I want you to see yourself doing this when I say it.
Paul went in and placed his hands… Not just the good hand, the hurt hand too. Does this give you a picture of what God wants to do through what you've been through? If it said, "Paul put his hand on him," I'd think, "Well, that's nice". But when I realize a snake had been on that hand just a few days ago, I think to myself, "God, what do you want to do through the places where I've been hurt"? Do you want this or are you ready for this now? I see a hand opening up, but it's not God's hand. His hand has always been on you. In every valley you've walked in, in every dumb decision you've made, in every bad thing you've ever believed about yourself and every bad thing anybody has ever done to you, his hand has always been there. It has never been the question about his hand.
How about yours? Are you going to walk around with that snake for another year, another five, another decade? Are you going to be an old man running around telling snake stories? With the same hand that could have killed him, he became an instrument of revival. The reason I didn't name my sermon when I started is because you don't always know what to call it until after it's over. Malta was called honey, but God brought Paul there for healing. Malta means refuge, but God brought Paul there for revival. I want us to spend some time believing today that when we do this… See, you can't do this and this. So which one is it going to be? Until you do this, you can't do this. Somebody I'm preaching to, if you can't do this for yourself, do it for your kids.
The whole island got healed because Paul didn't do this. When you do this to yourself, when you do it to an event… When you allow your identity to be consumed by an experience, it will always limit the flow of God's power in your situation. So, today, God sent me with a word for somebody to just know that life begins when you do this. Just this. I want you to use both hands. Stand to your feet in your living room. Stand to your feet in the auditorium and just do this.
Now look at me. This kills; this heals. This is accusation; this is acceptance. "Okay, I'm here," Paul said. "I might as well go over to Publius' house. I don't know what they're serving for dinner, but maybe God wants to do something through me". Do you know how many times God wanted to give me something but I was doing this? He wanted to give me a solution, but I was doing this. Then if you do this long enough, you start doing this, but God said, "Just do this". Just this.
Father, I thank you for your Spirit in moments like these. I know they're tender, some people, even as they try to push you away in this moment because it would, frankly, be easier to keep others at a distance. I thank you, Lord, that you know all things about me and everybody who's here. If there has to be a translation, you're telling them what Malta is. You're telling them what the snake is. You're telling them what Publius' house… You do those things. I can't do them, because you know them and love them. We just wanted to take a moment before we leave the building or before we log off and go on to something else to just do this, because this heals. We release those who hurt us, not even because they deserve it but because we don't want to spend the rest of our lives attached to something that almost killed us but didn't. We don't want to be defined by that. So, Lord, in the name of Jesus right now, we shake all shame off into the fire, all accusation and all condemnation.
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death". We shake that right now, like the dirt off our feet, like the snake off our hand. It couldn't kill us. It couldn't kill you. That's why you're still here.
Now take that same hand that was hurt, that same place in you that was hurt, and lay it on the next thing God puts in your life, because all the wisdom God gave you and all the compassion he gave you and all the healing he gave you… Just like the nail prints in his hand, this will be the place of the greatest release of power in the history of your life. I declare it. I stand in agreement with you for it. I testify of it. We have this treasure in earthen vessels. Look at me. Protect your vessel. Protect your heart. Don't let it just run around anytime it wants. Don't keep your car cleaner than you keep your heart. Protect your vessel, because you have to get there. You must stand trial before Caesar. You must do it. Nobody is going to do this for you. What you're carrying is more important than what's carrying you.
So, let the things fall away that have to fall away. That's all right now. What you need for where you're headed is in your hand. What's that in your hand? Should you be holding that or is it time for you to receive what God has next for you? I want to hear from you this week. I want to hear it in the comments. I want to hear it on social media. I want to hear what God is releasing in your life and what you are releasing to receive what God has next. I really do.
There are teams that go through these comments just to pray for you, and we want to hear about it. We want to stand in agreement. We don't want to stand there and do this. "Oh, get your life together. Repent". No, no, no. We're saying this. If we could hold hands, we would. It's controversial to hold hands, but right now, I connect with you by faith. The Scripture says if any two of you would touch and agree… That's not a physical requirement; that is a spiritual position. So I come into agreement with you in your life that you will have the power to shake into the passion of the fire of the Spirit of God whatever has attached itself to your life.
Right now, Lord, I lift my hands to bless your people all over the world who will hear this message at different times. This will be a turning point. This will be a moment of revelation. We stand with open hands under an open heaven. We give you thanks for your purpose. In Jesus' name, amen.
I hope you heard that. I hope you heard it with your heart, not just with your ears. I hope you receive it. That's all you have to do: Receive this. Receive God's grace, his mercy, his wisdom. He has so much for you. Hey, do you hear how I preached myself…? I have no voice left. I'm sweating through this heavy sweater, and I have not much voice left, but I just wanted to thank you. Thank you for giving, supporting, praying. We love you. It's amazing to be connected with you in ministry. Okay. I'm out of things to say. Subscribe. Blah, blah, blah. I'll see you next time. Love you.