Steven Furtick - You Don't Need To Know
This may not be the prettiest part of my life, but by faith I believe it's going to be the most productive. The most productive parts of your life will not be the prettiest. The greatest miracles in your life will come in the middle of the biggest mess. He said, "Actually, what happened…" He doesn't go into this long, long, long, long list of events. Holly, he doesn't go into a long list of events. Some of us are more verbose than others. When Holly tells me what happened in her day, it takes her more word counts (because she's smarter) to get it done. She's like paragraphs and I'm like sentences. Paul doesn't even give them a sentence on his condition in prison. "Food sucks, y'all. Pray for me. It's loud here". He doesn't give them a single sentence.
I wonder why. I wonder by this point in his life, does he have his priorities straight, to know that what is happening in me is always more important than what's happening to me? I wonder, do I have it straight? Not really. Not yet. I'm still conformed to the pattern of this world. I'm still acted upon by external events. If I feel it, I believe it. Well, Paul is past that. Paul is like, "Look. I could sit here and tell you all about prison. Blah, blah, blah. I've been here so many times before. It's not even worth wasting the papyrus I would write it on. I only have so much scroll, and I don't want to take up the time telling you how bad my day was. I don't want to spend so much time just thinking about, talking about, and guessing about all this stuff I can't control. What I want to focus on instead is the fruit. And what has happened to me…"
Get this. Beneath the surface, God is growing something greater than our minds can imagine. Something is happening in the soil. Something is taking root in your heart right now. In this season of my life, God is giving me a root system. In this season of my life, God is teaching me to focus. Remember, I'm looking forward to normal. God is pruning some stuff out of my life right now to make me ready for what's next. Can I get one witness in this room that God is rooting me, establishing me, so that I can bear more fruit? Well, we like the fruit, but the root is kind of boring, kind of not too sexy, kind of ugly when you get down to it.
Have you ever put roots in a vase and handed them to somebody for Valentine's Day? I want what's on the other side. We all want what's on the other side. On the other side of the Red Sea, I'm going to give you praise, Lord. God, when we get back to church… I saw y'all on Instagram. I've been going through your Instagram posts, everybody who tagged me or Elevation Worship, singing a song. I scrolled through them. Ask Abbey. Ask Graham. We spent three hours last night just scrolling through y'all. Some of y'all couldn't sing on key, but we still enjoyed seeing you sing these songs. I saw so many people say, "When we get back to church…oh man! Watch out". Well, why wait? I thought you were church. I thought the Holy Spirit lived in you. Jordan, if you were at Riverwalk, you'd be standing up shouting me down. Why do you need a crowd to shout me down? I thought the Spirit of God lived in you.
Now look. We love to shout over fruit, but fruit without root doesn't last long. I want something sustainable in my life. I want not only the blessing of God, but I want him to build me up so I can bear up under it. I want to yield my fruit in season. There is a time for everything, Solomon said. There is a season to mourn. So if you're mourning right now, that's the root. But you will rejoice in the morning. That's the fruit. I'm not focused on what I'm going through. I'm focused on what God is doing through it. Focus on the fruit.
"How was your week"? Well, it depends. What part about it do you want to know? When I almost strangled my kids or when I hugged them? I did both. The part where I was walking around the house cussing under my breath or the part where I was singing, "Amen"? Because from the same mouth, the fruit of lips that profess his name and the fruit that will tell you other stuff too. Listen. Out of this great season of uncertainty… Somebody put again in the chat, "I do not know". You are allowed to say that. I don't know what makes people think preachers know stuff we don't know. People will ask me the weirdest stuff. "If a cat dies in the middle of the night and the owner went to church the day before, will it get to heaven or does it have to pray…"? I don't know about your cat. "In the book of Revelations, where it talks about the horse and the heavens and the earth…" I say, "I didn't break open the scroll. The Lamb did that. I'm not the Lamb. I'm a dumb sheep like you".
So, knowing that I don't know… What a powerful concept. Knowing that you don't know makes you open to wisdom. Knowing that you don't know. I talked to Craig Groeschel yesterday about when church is going to open, and this and that and the other, and all of the states are different. I don't know if our governor is ever going to let us out of the house again or not, but certain states in the United States of America are opening up. Certain nations are more open than others, and we're all on different waves dealing with coronavirus. (If you're watching this in a time capsule in 2032, things were weird. This was not like Elevation Church had a bad growth season. We weren't allowed to come).
I was like, "What do you think, man? Another month? Another six months? Another 12 months? Will we go to church and come back"? We went back and forth just talking, just burning up our data plan talking to each other. Finally, I said, "Do you know what the smartest thing we've said on this whole call was? When you said three minutes ago, 'I don't know.' That's the smartest thing either of us have said". Here's what's really cool about right now: We are all idiots at the same time. We are all equally ignorant of what comes next. Nobody has a crystal ball. I know your uncle's cousin's friend worked for the Pentagon. Shut up. Hearing from everybody. "Well, my dad went to college with Dr. Fauci". Shut up. Nobody knows. Paul didn't know.
Are my kids ever going to have a real teacher again? Nobody knows. They might send them to school and they might send them back. Nobody knows. When is the economy…? Nobody knows. Nobody. "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor"? This is Romans 11. Right before Romans 12 where it says, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind," he says, "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord"? Who knows? Not me. Not you. Not Paul. Paul always had an answer.
One man said he was often wrong but seldom in doubt. Do you know anybody like that? That was Paul. Paul always knew. You're going to see him. He starts this passage. He says in verse 12, "I want you to know, brothers and sisters," and then by the time he gets to verse 22, he says, "I do not know". So how are we supposed to know if you don't even know? I love this, because the truth is in the tension. Hermeneutical principle 101: the truth is in the tension. The presence of faith does not eliminate uncertainty. In fact, it operates by uncertainty. He said, "I want you to know that the gospel is going forward". That's the important thing. Verse 13: "As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard…"
Wait a minute. He's talking about clarity, but he's still not defining the outcome. His clarity is not about the outcome; his clarity is about God's presence in the process. What a word. I'm focused on what God is doing in me right now. I can't control what politicians do. I can't control how long this prison sentence is. There is something outside of my control. This is what I told Elijah in the pound the other day, Graham. I'm giving him life lessons, and I think this has to be number one. If you strip it all away… And I don't even need a Bible verse for this. This is what I taught him. The only thing you can really control is your focus.
What are you going to do…make it sunny? What are you going to do…make it rainy? What are you going to do…make people nicer? Are you going to make people stop being crazy? What are you going to do? Are you going to pray away the virus? Look, man. I'm praying just as hard as anybody for stuff I can't control. That's all I can do. But what I can control is my focus. I can control my focus. "Not me, Pastor Furtick. I can't control my focus. I'm ADHD". I am not talking about physical focus. I'm talking about emotional focus. I'm talking about spiritual focus. I'm talking about focusing your priorities. "Now the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control".
Galatians 5:22-23, cross-reference for your Bible study. The fruit of the Spirit is joy, but the root of the Spirit is priorities, what you are planted in, what matters to you. This is Paul's message. He's writing back to the church he founded in Philippi. He led that purple cloth dealer Lydia to the Lord, and the city was never the same. He got locked up with Silas in prison in Philippi for preaching the gospel. Remember that story? Most people don't know that he is writing a letter to the same people who only have a church in their city because Paul was thrown in prison.
Did you hear me? The only reason there is a book of Philippians is because Paul was thrown in prison. The only reason he writes in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…" Philippians 4:19 says, "My God will supply all your needs". Paul is saying, "I don't know how this ends," yet he's saying, "My God will supply all my needs". I don't need to know how it ends to know that I'm going to see the glory of God in the middle of it. Some things I don't need to know. That is why I am encouraging you to limit your intake of the news. You do not need to know everything up to the minute. Amen.
You do not need to know the things you cannot directly affect. You do not need to know all of the details to take your next step. Just ask Abraham. You do not have to know the 10-year plan for your life to give God your best today. You do not have to know how long until there is a vaccine for a virus to praise God and worship God for the life he has given you in this moment. Releasing my need to know is the hardest thing, because I thought information was the key, yet Paul says there is a confidence that goes beneath knowledge. Let me sit back down, because I have more to say about this. In fact, I haven't even started my sermon yet.
Paul said, "Because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more…" I'm going to praise him all the more. Oh, thank you, Devil, for challenging my faith. It's going to make me more grateful. Oh, thank you, Lord, for pruning my branches. It's only going to make me more fruitful. More fruit. I don't know who it's for, but you're going to have more fruit. Even if I have a little less money right now, I'm going to bear more fruit, because my roots are going deeper, because I'm humble and open, and where I am not a closed system, God can sow the seed of his Word and bring forth something my mind can never conceive.
Verse 15: "It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love…" This is all the stuff Paul can't control. He's like, "Yeah, some people are talking about me. Yeah, there are some idiots out here. Yeah, I've got trolls too. Yeah, I just block them and move on". Isn't it crazy how you focus on the one thing that's against you? Do you do this too? Okay. Pray for me. This is what I do. I could have a thousand people say something nice to me and one person say something nasty, and I will snuggle up to nasty. What am I doing? I'm being immature. That's immature. It means I'm not rooted enough yet in love to know "God is for me. Who can be against me"?
Paul knew that. He actually wrote that. "If God is for me, who could be against me"? So he knew it. He wrote it. He said it. It came from within him. He knew it because it came from within. I almost called this message… Holly hates when I do this. She says, "Just give it one title. Don't give it the alternate titles". Here's the alternate title for this message: "Prison Sentence". We hang up Philippians 4:13 in a weight room: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".
Paul wrote that sentence in a prison. Prison sentence. I wanted to know what's going to come forth out of your life in this season of frustration. Prison sentence. I could do a whole series on prison sentences. It has a double meaning. I don't know how long I'm going to be here, but I'm going to bear some fruit while I do. I am like a tree planted by the streams of water. I don't know how long, but I know how high, how wide, how deep, how unsearchable is the love of Christ. I know it is beyond my comprehension. I do not know, but I know there's more fruit, more favor, more faith.