Steven Furtick - God Will Restore What The Enemy Stole
There comes a time where you have to appreciate where God fed you during the famine but be willing to leave and go back to the place where you really belong. You know how I said this was like a lifeline? You've convinced yourself you can never have it. You've convinced yourself you can never be happy, and you quote Bible verses. "God wants you to be holy, not happy". That's in the first version of you. That's not a Bible verse. That's the book of your dumb cousin's opinion. Have you ever read that?
Now, in case this seems like a stretch to compare us to this woman, let me tell you a little bit more about her story. She wasn't really looking to get something from God; she was looking to give something to God. You can go watch the sermon online. I preached it to Holly. It was called Just the Two of Us. I preached it in the whole empty room. It was just her on the front row and a few people who snuck in the back. It was just the two of us. I used it to talk about this woman and her husband. It was the most awkward sermon I ever preached, because it was just two of us in the room. It's a very big room. This woman was determined to use what she had for God, expecting nothing in return.
When I say "Timing your testimony" and I use these examples about taking the mic away, and all of this, what I really mean is trusting God to obey him before he has shown you exactly why he's calling you to do it. It's really easy to say after the fact that God connected this and that and the other, but the trick of it is she made a room for the prophet to come and stay before she knew what God was going to do through her act of obedience. Isn't that the hardest thing? Like the author said, to believe in advance what will only make sense in reverse. That's the hardest thing in the world. To let down the nets for the catch before you have any clue that this carpenter knows where they are. That's the hard part. After she did that, the prophet said, "You've gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can we do for you"?
She had something in her heart she wanted God to do, like you have something in your heart you want God to do…a freedom you want to experience, a gift you want to see God develop, a greater state of meaning than just survival. She had it in her heart, but she had learned how to hide it. When the prophet asked, "What can I do for you"? the woman said, "I have a home among my own people". Because she did then. What she didn't have was a son. The Bible tells us her husband was old. I told you. God has terrible timing. He waits until this man is shriveled up. Can I say it like that? He brought her what she had stopped asking for. It was so painful for her to consider the potential that it could be any different she said, "Stop messing with me. Do not mislead your servant, man of God," and she pushed away the promise of God. She pushed away the possibility of something different.
That's what you've been doing to everything God has been sending into your life to mature you and restore you. She is pushing away the very thing that came from the mouth of the one she made a room for. She is pushing away the promise God has sent her, but God did it anyway. The prophet looked at her and said, "About this time next year you will hold a son in your arms," and she did. There is no record that she believed it. There is no record that she had faith for it. There is no record that she all of a sudden came into a Scripture quotation phase, did a Beth Moore Bible study on pillars of faith. There is no record of that, but she held a son. One day, unexpected to her, that son died unexpectedly.
So let's recap. "I didn't ask you for a son. You gave him to me anyway, and then you let him die". She brings the boy and puts him on the bed of the prophet. She went to IKEA and picked this bed out herself, put it together herself. She said, "I'm going to put this back on the place you were lying when you told me God would give it to me". And Elisha restored the boy to life. That boy is the boy who's standing in the king's court at least seven years later in 2 Kings 8, the boy she didn't ask God to give her, the boy who died even after God gave the boy to her and came back to life. What got me about this text was realizing the thing that died in one season of her life was the thing that stood beside her in the moment of her greatest need.
You have to imagine it. Gehazi is the servant of Elisha. The king calls Gehazi and says, "Tell me some stories about Elisha". Gehazi has many. "Well, there was one time… One time he took his cloak and struck the Jordan with it, and the waters parted. The people were waiting to see 'Is he really a man of God?' and the waters parted. Then one time there was this spring in the town, and the water was poisonous, but Elisha put some salt in the water and purified it, and he said, 'Your water will never be cursed again, and you can drink from it.' Well, one time there were these boys who called him 'Baldy,' and he called some bears out of the woods to maul them, but let's skip that one".
You know, you tell selective stories. "One time there was this confederation of kings, and they were in the middle of a drought. Elisha came out to them and said, 'I don't even want to talk to you because you follow the wicked gods of your ancestors. If I didn't have respect for Jehoshaphat, I wouldn't even speak to you, but now bring me a minstrel.' And the minstrel started playing, and Elisha started prophesying in the dry valley. He told them, 'Dig your own ditches and prepare for the rain you can't see.' And the rain came from a direction that it wasn't expected". It didn't come from the sky like normal rain does. It came from somewhere else. It's just the way Elisha was. You can picture Gehazi. He's getting fired up telling these stories. He's remembering. He's rehearsing the things God did in a previous season. "One time we went to this widow's house, and she had a little bit of oil. She thought she had no oil, but Elisha told her, 'Go back and check the thing you called nothing again, because what you call nothing is exactly what God needs to do something.'"
So, he's telling the stories. There's one he skipped with Naaman. Naaman was a leper who came to be healed, and when Elisha pronounced healing over him by dipping seven times in the Jordan, which is a ridiculous thing to do, because the Jordan is a little dirty body of water and Naaman was a great commander… He could have bathed in the waters of Abana and Pharpar, but he had to come all the way to the prophet and dip in the Jordan seven times for his flesh to be restored like a young boy. He was so excited about his miracle he tried to give some gifts to Elisha, and Elisha said, "I don't want your gifts. I didn't do it for that". Gehazi chased down Naaman and said, "Hey, my master changed his mind, so whatever you have, I'll take it back to him," and he kept it for himself. Elisha, the man of God, knew about it, and he called him out, and Gehazi had leprosy.
So what's he doing in the court of the king? A leper can't be in the court of the king. It looks like the little boy isn't the only one God restored. I have to put this in, because if I don't, you'll think only if you're like the woman and you do what God told you to do you can ask God to restore what you lost. Gehazi is standing in the presence of the king to let you know that even if you did it, even if it was your fault, even if it was your selfishness, even if you were the one who let go, even if it was your irresponsibility, you can stand in the presence of God under the blood of Jesus and say, "I want it back! In the name of Jesus, I want back everything Satan stripped from me and stole from me and took from me"!
So, he's telling the king the stories, and he gets to the one about the woman. "She built us a room and put a bed in it. She didn't have a son, and Elisha said, 'You're going to have a son.' She was like, 'I don't even want a son. I've given up on it.' And Elisha prophesied the son, and she shows up pregnant. Then the kid dies. He's in the field, and he starts screaming about his head. Then they put him on the bed. I was going to go try to heal him with my staff, but Elisha said, 'No, this is a job for me.' And he came in, and I don't know what he did in that room, because it was just him and the boy in there, but they both came out".
As he is talking, the woman walks into the room. Do you understand the statistical improbability that at the exact moment…? There are so many stories to be told about Elisha. I didn't even give you half of them. God knew the exact moment Gehazi would be talking about that woman. I don't know if she hit traffic on the way so she was late or whether she caught every green light so she got there right on time, but I have learned something about God. You can trust his timing. You can give him the mic. You can let him speak what he wants to speak over your life, and in the appointed time, it will come to pass. I've seen it in my own life. God knows exactly what, who, where, when.
Oh, this is the best Scripture. Do y'all want the best Scripture in the Bible? Here's the best Scripture in the Bible: Psalm 119. This is the best Scripture today. I'll have a different one tomorrow, but this is the best Scripture I've ever read in my life right now. God will give you a certain word at a certain time. Here's what he gave me. Psalm 119:125: "I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies". Here's the part that hit me. Before I read it, who is this for? "It is time for thee, Lord, to work…" Not for me…for thee.
I want you to come into the presence of the King. Not the king of Israel. I want you to come into the presence of the King. The Lord told me to tell you it's time for him to work. You've done everything you can do about it. You have manipulated it so much you've messed it up even worse. There comes a time where Holly tells us, "Get out of the kitchen. You are not helping". I heard the Lord saying to somebody, "Get out of the kitchen and let me work". "It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law". "It is time for thee to do something about what they did".
This woman left a homeowner, and while she was gone surviving the famine, somebody else took her home. Go back to 2 Kings, chapter 8. This is so anointed I can barely get it out of my mouth. There's so much jumping up in my spirit while I preach to you, because the Lord said this is a lifeline for somebody. "It is time for thee, O Lord, to work". She comes into the presence of the king to ask back what she lost when she left. At the exact moment she walks in, Gehazi was telling the king her story. Does God not have the craziest timing? Gehazi said, "That's that woman, the one who put the table and the lamp and the bed in the room, the one who gave us a place to stay. That's her, the one whose son Elisha restored to life, and there's the boy".
You have to drag what God did in your past into the room and show the thing you are facing today what God did for you yesterday. That's what you have to do. "It is time for you to work, Lord. Just like you gave me this back, I need that back. Just like you restored this that I thought was gone forever…" God did that for me. There are some things that I know that I don't have to prove it to you. You don't have to agree with it. God did that for me. Nobody else. It wasn't a human. God might have used somebody, but only God could bring the dead back to life. The God who did this, I need him to do that. Verse 6 says something very interesting. This is the last verse I want to give you. "The king asked the woman about it, and she told him. Then…"
Read it again. She told him what God had done for her, and then he assigned an official to her case. So, she only got back what she needed when she told the story of what God had done. Do you follow the sequence? She could have told herself any story. "Life isn't fair. This isn't right. I tried to obey God, and now look at me". But she told the story of what God had done. So, God wants to know, "Why have you stopped telling the story? Not to others…to yourself. Why have you stopped telling the story of what I did for you and replaced it with a story of fear of what might happen next"? While you are telling yourself these hypothetical stories of what might happen or these shameful stories of what did happen, you are standing next to a story, a living, breathing, walking, talking miracle, a product of nothing but the grace of God.
That's why April Carter told me… She said, "God did this for me". I said, "Well, why didn't he do that"? She said, "In all fairness, it's not your story". See, she never stopped telling herself the story. You stop telling yourself the story of God's faithfulness, and you start telling yourself the story of fear. She told him what God had done, and then… I'm telling you, that one word… Let me give you another word: yet. "I don't have it yet. I haven't found a way to get set free from this yet. I don't see how it's going to work out yet". Timing your testimony. Don't tell it too early, because you don't know what God is going to do in chapter 8. The timing of God is so amazing.
Every time you tell yourself a story about the things God did then and bring it into the presence of what you need him to do now… He said, "Give her back what belongs to her". Say it out loud. "Peace belongs to me. I am a child of God. Joy belongs to me. I am a child of God. Freedom is my inheritance. I am a child of God. I belong because I believe. I am a child of God".
Tell yourself that story. Preach the gospel to yourself. If Gehazi can rehearse the great things God has done, who was a leper and a scoundrel, can't you? Can you trust God's timing enough to give him the mic and believe what he speaks? Though the vision tarry, wait for it, for it has an appointed time. It's taking me awhile to understand God's timing is created to increase my trust in him, whether that's the fourth watch of the night or whether that's the fourth day after I have lost something I love. God gives you these little gifts. What are yours? Have you told anybody that part of your story or are you so consumed with your present struggle you have stopped rehearsing your past victories?