Steven Furtick - Too Grown To Give Up
Our eFam reunion tour. Our teams have been visiting cities across the United States this year, and I wonder if they're coming to you next. Put it in the chat where you want our eFam reunion tour to come next and why they should come. Give us a good reason. Do you have good barbecue? Is there a mighty spirit of revival brewing in your city? Is there a really cool bowling alley? I don't know, but some reason we should come. So far, we've been to Tampa, Houston, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. Over 600 volunteers have showed up afterward to serve over 1,000 hours with our outreach partners. One hundred thirty-five people have been baptized at our pop-up watch parties.
Next week they're headed to Phoenix, but we don't know where next, so you'll have to help us decide. Just put it in the chat. Where should we show up next? I know that whether they show up or not, God is right there with you right now. We're not waiting for next week. Somebody say, "I need a word from God right now".
I'm excited to share with you today from the Scripture God has given us in Hebrews, chapter 11. Of all of the Scriptures God could have picked for us to study, I believe he picked this one for us today in Hebrews 11:23-29. Are you ready? "By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy…" Check out this curious construction of words: "…the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value [of higher worth] than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel. By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned".
Now let me lift these two verses so we can get into our topic for today. This is a word from the Lord today. It says in verse 24, "By faith Moses, when he had grown up…" Then it says in verse 27, "He persevered". The message God gave for today… I don't know if you'll like it or not. This is a broccoli kind of Bible passage today. This is not Breyers; this is broccoli. But if you're mature enough to receive this word and you have all of your molars and you can chew it, the Lord told me to talk about Too Grown to Give Up.
We need your help with this message, Lord, so give them the faith they need. The faith comes from you. Even the faith comes from you. Not just the grace. Even the faith must come from you. Impart it right now to every believer. In Jesus' name, amen.
Pretty legendary story in our family. I think it was about seven years ago. Graham and I were watching some music on TV, and I told him, "If you name that song that man is singing right now, I'll give you $1,000". I was bluffing because it was a Jimi Hendrix song and he was already playing the guitar solo and the name of the song wasn't on the screen, so I thought it was safe. He goes, "Fire". That was correct, which created an interesting dilemma: my integrity as a dad or my money. Then I thought, "Well, maybe there's an option C". I was shocked he got it. I was like, "How did you know the song was called 'Fire'"? He said, "I just guessed".
I still don't know to this day how he knew. It's a mystery. But what happened next is the stuff of legends. I said, "What if I buy you a Clemson jersey instead"? He said, "Yes". I bought him a jersey, and I came out about $960 ahead. It wasn't a real jersey. He was only 6. From time to time, he will still say out of nowhere, "Ugh"! He's 13 now. "Ugh! I can't believe I took the jersey. I could have had 10 jerseys". I don't know exactly what stirs it up in him, this deep sense of regret, this bitterness toward me, but he'll sometimes put it in my face as an accusation, some kind of parental judgment. "How could you take advantage of a 6-year-old like that"? It's pretty common. He'll bring it up. He'll bring it up all the time. Then he'll say, "I was too young to know what I was doing, and you took advantage of me". I'm like, "No. I was just teaching you. It was a lesson. It was actually teaching you to value something".
The problem is sometimes you don't really know what's valuable. You know the old song that said, "You don't know what you've got until it's gone". I would say you don't know what you've got until you're grown. In the passage I read you, what got me thinking about it is that it mentions Moses as a baby, and the reason this Scripture is so significant in Hebrews, chapter 11, this particular book of the Bible, is because the author is writing to an audience of believers who are, in many ways, babies in their faith.
Now he uses the example of baby Moses. I don't know if you saw that in verse 23. Let's look at it again. It talks about when he was little, and the Pharaoh had issued an edict to kill all the firstborn of Israel, because while they were living in Egypt they became very powerful, and he knew if they became too powerful they would no longer serve his purpose; therefore, he set up a system by which the midwives, when they were delivering these Hebrew babies, would kill all of the firstborn children. Moses' parents had the faith to see the purpose of their child, or the potential of their child, when he was still just a baby. That's a beautiful thing. If you've ever had someone see potential in you before you saw it in yourself, that's a beautiful thing.
How many of you have ever had somebody that you just borrowed some of their belief in you? Yeah. It's an awesome thing. People like Aunt Jackie who told me, "God has a very special plan for you. He has a really special plan for you". At the time when she was saying that to me… That's something that sounds really good. It's something that if you hear that in your own right you could fill that with your own preferences of what that plan is. She said it to me, but the beauty of it was that she saw it in its baby form. She believed in what was in me in baby form. Moses' parents had the faith to see the significance in what was hidden.
So, I want to spend just a moment right now… This is not the whole message, but it'll set up the context. I want to talk about hidden significance and how some of the things that are most significant are hidden for the very reason that they are significant. In Moses' case, he was hidden until he was 3 months old so he could stay alive. God often hides the most significant things in order to protect the potential of that thing until the time is right. Now, we know Moses as the Red Sea parter. We know Moses as the prophet who commanded plagues. We know Moses as the one who brought water out of the rock. We know Moses as the man who saw God face-to-face. But his parents saw his destiny when he was in diapers, and they had the good sense to hide what was significant so it wouldn't be killed before it had the chance to develop into what it was destined to be.
One of the things I teach my son about creativity is "Don't show people things you're working on too early while you're working on them". Don't post everything you are creating out of a need for instant validation, because it will short-circuit your creativity to see what it could be. I have this rule about sermons. I never tell anybody what I'm preaching about. Ever. The reason is if I show it to them before I really know it for myself, the look on their face… There's this look people get when you're trying to tell them. "I was going to talk about Hebrews 11, and you've got to grow up, and all this stuff, and Moses and the Pharaoh and all that". They look at you with this polite kind of confusion.
It's a very specific look they get in their eyes, like, "I'm sure you'll do something with this". It's like a house that's dilapidated. It's like, "I'm sure somebody could fix it up. I'm sure the bones are good". They look at you that way. So I taught my son… I said, "Never show your embryos". When God is doing something significant in your life, it is good for it to remain hidden for a time. How many would agree Moses was a significant figure in the history of God's people? Yeah. A pretty big deal. Maybe the most significant figure in the history of Israel. Maybe. I mean, Hebrews 11 mentions a lot of them. It mentions Abraham. It mentions Jacob. You've got Enoch, who didn't even die.
God took him up because he was pleasing to God. It says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God, because he who comes to God must believe that he is". It's like, "Yeah". But do you really? And that he rewards those who diligently seek him. That's an amazing Scripture. The author of Hebrews… You have to understand. He's giving us a picture of those who did not quit on what God called them to do. To give us a picture of those who didn't quit, he shows us someone who was almost killed before he even had an opportunity to be called. The thing I want you to know is that everything significant I ever did in life I was tempted to quit.
I am preaching this message to somebody today who is tempted to quit on something God called you to do. I understand how people love to take a sermon and put their initials on it for whatever they want it to mean. Trust me. I've seen it happen over and over and over again. So, you haven't smoked in three weeks, but then I preached on "Don't quit," and you go get a pack right after I preach because the pastor said, "Don't quit". I know how y'all are. Y'all are real shifty sometimes with these Scriptures, real slippery sometimes with these Scriptures, real manipulative sometimes with these Scriptures. But please, let us reason together at the mercy seat. I'm talking about quitting on what God called you to do.
The picture is of a man God called to deliver a nation, but he was almost killed before he even had the opportunity to be called. This helps me understand why some of the people who have the most significant purpose to accomplish for the kingdom of God go through the heaviest attacks at the formative stages of their lives. So, his parents had the faith. It says they had faith. I'm concerned in the church that we have confused childlike faith, which is what Jesus told us to have, with childish faith. These Hebrew believers… Remember, they were just babies. They were still being weaned off the sacrificial system that Moses instituted.
In Moses' sacrificial system… You may know a little bit about this. I'm not going to go into great depth about it. Their sin was atoned for by the blood of bulls and goats. Their sin was atoned for by the offering that was made by the high priest who had to do it every year. The theme of the book of Hebrews is that Jesus Christ is superior to the Mosaic covenant, to the Mosaic commandments, to the Mosaic customs. So, we're looking at a group of believers who are learning a brand-new way to do things. In their embrace of Jesus Christ… In order to walk in this new way of life Christ offers, it involves a letting go of what they have known. Now that they have a new identity… See, they're transitioning their identity from being justified by the law, which doesn't work… You can't even keep the speed limit.
Please don't look at me like you can keep the law. "Be holy as he is holy". The law was just designed to bring us to the place where we would know our need for grace and receive it, so that you would quit trying to keep the commandments in your own strength so you could receive the grace of God through the person of Jesus Christ. This is the gospel, and it still works today. You can be forgiven of your sin without a bull, without a goat, without a turtledove. I don't need another high priest. I don't need somebody to change their mind about me. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. You can be forgiven right now. Not seven steps, not three classes, not ten years of sobriety, but right now he can save you. Right now! Yet they are being tempted, as God is birthing the church into the world, to return to the thing they were set free from.
Okay. We talked about hidden significance. Let's talk about conflicted identities. It's when you're not used to the new way of doing things enough, so you return to what you knew, because what is new in that moment is costing you. The example of Moses is a perfect illustration of maturing enough… Can I preach about maturity? It seems like every sermon people want to click on these days is miracles, but what about maturity? What about maturity to know what to do with a miracle when God gives it to you so you don't mismanage it? In Hebrews 11, there is a picture of a prophet. Moses was a prophet. He's not your typical prophet. In fact, I thought the writer of Hebrews was pretty nice to Moses when he explained his story. I want to show you that now. There's a lesson even in this.
You know, all I'm deciding to do is figure out what not to tell you today, because there's so much good stuff in this. So, let me give you a contrast. This will be good. Verse 27: "By faith Moses, when he had grown up…" I read you this, but I'm reading it again for a reason. "…refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward". This is a description, or a picture, of maturity.
In Acts, chapter 7, it tells us that Moses was 40 years old when he made the decision to be identified with God's children, not the Egyptians who were oppressing them. Now, there's a lot of great stuff in the backstory that I won't make time to get into the message today about how his parents floated him down the Nile River in a basket. The same Nile River he would turn into blood 80 years later he floated on to survive when he was a baby. I thought about preaching "Faith to Float," because sometimes you feel like you're floating between two things, waiting to see what it's going to be. I thought about preaching that, but I have discipline, and I'm only going to preach one message today.
This message is about how, one day, Moses makes a decision to be identified not with the Egyptian who raised him but with the parents who birthed him. This is not primarily a racial text. This is not primarily a nationalistic text. Conclusions could be drawn in those directions. But what's really happening here is about Moses choosing what he will be defined by. I want you to realize in your life today you have a decision about what you will be defined by. Even though his early life was defined by an assassination attempt, even through the trauma of floating through a basket… Some of us end up in therapy because our Pampers were slightly too tight. This man was floating down a river in a basket coated with tar. Even though his life began with trauma, he made a decision in this moment that "I will not be defined by something I have become bigger than".
This is where the significance of the text is in the detail. It says, "When he grew up…" I wonder, are there some things God is waiting for us to outgrow that we are praying for him to remove? The challenge of Moses' life is in order to become what he really was, he had to outgrow everything he had ever known. Do you see it in the text? He was raised as an Egyptian, but he was born as a Hebrew, yet there came a moment of decision. "I will not be defined by my environment. I will not be limited by my experience. I will not be affiliated with the events that brought me to this point". There is something God is calling you to outgrow in this moment, and I wonder what it is. Until you grow past the point of needing God to change things…
Some of us have to outgrow the need for everybody to like us or validate us in order to see what God has really put in us. He chose to be mistreated. He chose to be lonely. He chose to be a weirdo. He chose the uncomfortable space of growth. You know what? Growth is chosen. Not change. Change will slap you right in the back of your head. Change will kick you in the shin. But growth is chosen. In the moment, he has a decision to make, and so do you, and so did the Hebrew Christians. Do we outgrow what we've known so we can become who we really are? Moses didn't even do it the right way. In fact, in Acts, chapter 7, it tells us that one day when he was 40 years old (this is Stephen giving us this information) "…he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites. He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian".
Well, that's one way to do it. He feels something on the inside. He knows he's not what he's around. He understands there's something different in him than the people, the culture he's surrounded in, so he does something out of his impulse that is really an indication of his destiny, and he kills an Egyptian. Verse 25 really got my attention. "Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not". So now we understand what it means to say that Moses chose to be misunderstood rather than to give up who he was. Grow up. Why are we still in seventh grade, and we are 53 years old, and we still filter the majority of our decisions through "What will other people think about this"? We spend money with that filter. We say things with that filter. We don't say things with that filter.
Now, I think it's important to consider what others will think about things. I do. I think that's why you brush your teeth. That's why you make sure when you go out in the morning there's a smile on your face. That's a good thing to think how your life is affecting others, but I don't think you should be controlled by it. Not as grown as you are. Are you really so grown in your body but so small in your spirit that one person's opinion can move you off your purpose? You are much too grown at this stage in your life to be taking your cues from a culture that doesn't even know Christ. Our growth has been so stunted, and I'm going to tell you why: because mostly what we've been taught is sin suppression. We have not been taught transformative thinking. We have been taught "Push it down, and don't do that where anybody can see you, and don't tell anyone how it really is".
So we push things down. We never deal with them. We never really know how to bring it to Jesus. We've heard a lot about forgiveness of sin, but what about freedom from sin? What good is it for God to forgive me of sin if I'm going to live running back to the same thing he brought me out of? So, now I want to get into a section of the message… This is going to go on my YouTube channel as a standalone. This is a little mini message within the message. I've been promising this for a long time, and I'm going to preach it right now. I want to talk to you about sins with benefits. Sit down and listen to this. In verse 25, it says he chose the reproach of God's people, or we could say he chose the inconvenience of purpose over the pleasure of sin. "Anybody who says sin doesn't feel good didn't do it right. Amen".
Everybody quotes this verse to talk about how sin runs out, but here's the thing I've learned about… We could call it Egypt. We could call it the place where we go to have our needs met. If you do not appreciate and acknowledge the need a sin is meeting, you won't know how to get that need met in God, and you will come right back to it. I know how that sounds. "Appreciate my sin? My sin killed Jesus. How can I appreciate my sin"? I'm not talking about appreciating the consequence of it. I'm not talking about willfully rebelling against God. Even the apostle said "Where sin increased, did grace that much more increase. But shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid! How shall we who died to sin live any longer to it"? But is the message we're preaching in churches really helping people get free?
"Quit sinning". Just put it on the church sign. "Quit sinning. Quit cussing". You know what? I would rather you keep cussing and not quit growing than thinking the whole point of the Christian faith is behavior modification. Now this may separate some of us, because some of us may be so addicted to the gospel message of "Quit sinning. Quit sinning. Quit, quit, quit, quit, quit". But today I want to talk to you about the sin of quitting. Did you know that quitting is a sin? I'm not telling you not to put your résumé out. Maybe you do need another job. I'm not telling you to stay in an abusive relationship. That's foolish. I want you to be safe. But to quit on what God gave you to do and the deposit he called you to guard is the greatest sin of all.
Sometimes I've had to keep crying while refusing to quit. Sometimes I've had to keep wrestling. We have an epidemic in our world today. It is the epidemic of quick quitters. There is no value in what is lasting. The priority is what is seen. So we will quit something to appear knowledgeable rather than staying and becoming wise. It's an epidemic. We quit everything so quickly. If it doesn't get 10 "likes" in 10 minutes we delete it. I'm too grown to give up that easily. The Bible said Moses was grown enough to know "This is not who I am. This is not all I am". Yes, it's nice. He wasn't giving up a life of poverty and failure. He was known as the grandson of Pharaoh, the most powerful man in the world. He said, "I would rather give that up for what God has for me. I would rather give that up". Because he was grown enough to discern what's really worth it.
That's what Graham is saying. "You tricked me out of my money before I was grown enough to do a cost-benefit analysis". So there's a contrast. Let's study this for a moment. The Lord has been dealing with me to teach a little deeper lately, so I'm going to try to do that. He didn't choose who he was born to. He didn't choose what he went through. He chose his response, and he focused on his reward, because he knew the pleasures of sin were fleeting. Disgrace for the sake of Christ was of greater value than the treasures of Egypt. Do we really believe that? The treasures of Egypt. The way the world defines your worth.
You know all about it. It's status oriented. It's all the visible stuff. It's all the external stuff. He chose something he couldn't see because he saw something that others didn't. It said, "He persevered because he saw him who is invisible". His values didn't come from something that was visible. Now, the more tempted you are to quit, the greater the significance. Nothing I ever did in my life of significance was I not tempted to quit. Now, when I am tempted to quit on something God gave me to steward, I realize the temptation to quit is an indication of the significance. A lot of us are addicted to quitting. You can talk about addicted to pills, addicted to porn, addicted to the bottle, addicted to this, addicted to that. What about the addiction we have to quitting?
I'll tell you what that looks like. In my 20s (I was reflecting on this with Holly the other day), I had this almost mafia mentality with people in my life. The way I operated was… This will sound really weird to some of the people who I have been friends with for almost all my life, because I am a loyal person, but I went through a stage where, in my immaturity, at the first sign of conflict I would quit a friendship. That was a protective mechanism. I believe it was something I saw modeled many times. I believe some of that has to do with how my dad grew up. You see things. I do believe that's part of it. I also believe I was immature, and I believe I was insecure.
So, the moment a friendship… I'm using this as an example. The moment a friendship would have conflict associated with it, it was easier for me to quit or to flee from the friendship than to face what I needed to face. For many of us, the moment a relationship starts getting really intimate, we quit getting closer. We will even design drama in order to be a defense mechanism from us really having to push past the surface and let someone see us. I was too insecure and too immature to know that the richness of intimacy is worth the willingness to push past the insecurity. God is changing me now because I'm growing. The funniest thing about us is we celebrate so much when someone "steps out in faith" to do something new.
But I was thinking the other day: sometimes the reason we're always stepping out to something new is because we don't want to stay and really change. I know this sounds weird, because the passage is about Moses leaving Egypt, but it is written to Hebrew Christians who have to stay in their faith. He is using the example of someone who left something that was not really true to them in order to encourage us to stay with what's really worthwhile. When you're tempted to quit, here's what happens: you only see the benefit of quitting. The Devil knows how to hide the price tag. That's how temptation operates. We're not mature. We're not grown up.
Look at this in Hebrews, chapter 5. Because you can't quit. You can't quit because of this. Look at what he says in verse 11. "We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand". You quit trying to understand. The moment it doesn't make sense… Sometimes if we hear a sermon and it doesn't rhyme and they don't tell us exactly what to write down, we don't even listen anymore. He's frustrated about it. I'm not, but the writer of Hebrews was. "You stopped trying to understand". "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again". He said it. I didn't.
"You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil". Constant use. You can't quit every time it doesn't make sense. And for the love of Paul McCartney, you can't quit every time you don't understand something. (I don't know why I said "Paul McCartney". His name popped into my mind. "That was a deep connection. I didn't follow it". I didn't either.)
Listen to me. He's talking about Moses, the infant God protected, and how God protected certain things in your life in an infant stage because he saw potential for this moment. Don't quit before you get to see it. Moses persevered because he saw something that was not apparent to the naked eye. The treasures of Egypt. The benefits of sin. I know it sounds bad, but certain sins meet certain needs. Don't you love to judge people? I love it. I'm just being honest with you. I love judging others. It is the greatest escape from having to reflect on myself. It is amazing. I do not recommend it, because it has a surcharge. The surcharge is shame. It's the hidden expense.
Now watch what the Devil will do. He'll tempt you with something. Right? I'm not just talking about tempting you with something you heard about in youth group. I'm talking about the temptation to quit, the temptation to stop short of all that Christ has for you. In that moment when you're tempted to quit, he highlights the benefit and hides the expense. If you quit showing up, if you quit trying, here's what you can expect to experience: relief. But relief is not freedom. We don't know the difference. We run around quitting everything that would change us, running from everything that would revolutionize us, and resisting everything God sends to grow us. It feels like freedom, but it's really just temporary relief. Sexual immorality is temporary relief with the price tag of permanent bondage.
Gossip… Oh, that was a quiet one right there. Did you hear all the dryness in the atmosphere? The flowing of the "Amens" just ceased. The immediate vacation from having to deal with yourself. Moses had the ability, even though he didn't do it perfectly… Y'all, he murdered a man, and God called it faith? God does not frame our mistakes like we frame our mistakes. The process of maturity is learning to get from your Father what you used to get from Pharaoh. Every need sin is meeting in your life, God can meet it in a better way. Every need manipulation is meeting in your life, God can meet it in a better way. When we manipulate things, do it in our own strength, do it without praying about it, do it without caring about others, do it without considering the consequences, do it without being true to the integrity of who we are…
When we are manipulating something, we are trying to meet a need. The need is for us to be certain. Faith can meet that same need. Faith can be certain that no matter what the outcome is, all things are working together for my good. I don't have to control anything. I can trust God in everything. Moses chose, and you have a decision to make. "Will I be identified with what I've known? Will I be known as where I came from or will I in this moment of my life…"? He was 40 when he got there, but you don't have to be 40. You can do it when you're 14. You might be 80 and you can do it. If you make the decision in this moment, "I will not be defined by my environment. I will not be defined by the events that happened to me…" He persevered because he saw. He saw what others couldn't see.
Therefore, looking unto Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith, who despised the shame of the cross but endured it for the joy set before him. I believe God is calling us into a season of greater faith than needing to see the reason. I believe God is calling us to deeper faith than giving up the first time it doesn't work out. I believe God is calling somebody that you cannot give up on yourself because he has not given up on you yet. Even when he had to track down Moses in the wilderness 40 years later and bring him back to Egypt to deliver the people… Before Moses chose God, God chose Moses.
So, I don't think you get to quit. You don't get to quit. It's not an option. The blood bought you. The grace of God called you. There's a hand of God on your life. His grip is stronger than yours. Too grown to give up. I've seen God do too much to give up. I've been too developed. He should have killed me when I was a little kid, because I know too much about God to walk away now. Do you know how many times I've had to fight to get to this pulpit to say something to you and it would have felt better not to? Do you know how many times Jesus wanted to call a legion of angels to deliver him from the cross and it would have felt better not to? Moses didn't make it all the way to the Promised Land, so the author of Hebrews wanted you to know when you're tempted to quit.
I want to minister in this moment. Have you been tempted to quit? Not necessarily quit like how people see quit, but usually you quit inside, and you quit in increments. I took Greek for two weeks in college. After two weeks, I realized God did not call me to speak Greek, and I went to the registrar and got a drop slip. I walked to Hal Freeman's office, and the moment he saw me walk in the door he goes, "Furtick," and he laughed this diabolical laugh. He said, "That didn't take long". He saw the drop slip. He tried to convince me to keep taking Greek, but I quit. I had to take it again in cemetery…seminary three times. I finally finished. He said, "That didn't take long".
I wasn't ever really committed to it. I think it's shocking. One time Paul told the Galatian church, "I'm shocked how quickly you turn away to another gospel". I'm shocked how quickly you stop believing what I've spoken over you because of somebody else saying something different. You feel something different, because it doesn't happen overnight. It took Moses 40 years to grow to the point and then 40 more before he saw it come to pass. But you're too grown to give up. You need faith and patience. Faith without patience is childish faith. God sent me to tell somebody "You can't quit". There's too much connected to you to quit. I know it would be momentary relief, but can you see past the expense to see the benefit?
The psalmist said, "Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your sins, heals all your diseases, redeems your life from the pit, and crowns you with love and compassion". I would rather go through a season of temporary uncertainty than compromise the truth of my identity. You're making a decision right now, and you've been really tempted to quit. Do you know what it shows me that you've been tempted to quit? It's significant what God gave you to do. I know. The stronger the temptation to quit, the greater the significance.
Do you know how many times Moses wanted to quit once he started leading God's people out of Egypt? One time I think he was ready to ask God to kill them or kill him. "I can't keep up with this anymore". One time he got so burdened and overwhelmed because he was trying to do everything himself. He was trying to do more than he was made to do. A pastor came to visit me three years ago, and he came to tell me he was quitting the ministry. I thought he had had sex with somebody who wasn't his wife, but that wasn't the case. I thought he had maybe had a financial impropriety, but that wasn't the case. The temptation to quit was from the strain and the burden of maintaining what he had built. I think everybody can relate to that. I really do. So I said, "Why did you come tell me that you wanted to quit"? He said, "Because I wanted to see if you could convince me not to". He said, "How have you done it 12 years and you didn't quit"?
I wish I could have told him, "Because the joy of the Lord is my strength, and it is a blessing and a privilege to serve the mightiness of his splendiferous grace, and I just look unto him who is the author and finisher of my faith". But I had to be honest. I said, "Every time I was tempted to quit, not only did I realize after the fact that it was an indication that there was something significant…" There is something significant. They wanted to kill those Hebrew babies because of the significance and the strength they represented. So, after realizing that, every time I wanted to quit, I realized it was time to shift and that to keep doing what God had called me to do, I needed to shift how I was doing it. And he didn't quit. Not all stories have a happy ending, but the dude still went back and did it. He didn't quit; he shifted.
I don't know what you want to quit today. Maybe you just want to quit trying but keep your body present. Maybe you want to quit trying to love people and just become this bitter, cynical person who never tries again because people suck. (Could you tell that was coming from a deep place inside of me when I said it? I felt possessed for a minute.) God said, "Don't quit; shift". When Moses was overwhelmed later in his life… This was not the last time he would have to make the decision. When he was overwhelmed because there were too many people and he was running on empty and they were asking him for everything, his father-in-law Jethro came to see him with his two daughters, and he said, "I see what you're doing, and you're spread too thin, and it's not going to work. You've got to shift how you're doing this. You don't have to quit what God has called you to; you have to shift how you're doing it".
I sat there with that pastor, and we listed everything he was doing that somebody else could do. Remember, maturity is first and foremost the ability to discern what is worth it. I bet we found seven or eight things that were worthless on his list that he needed to be weaned from so he could have the strength to continue in what God has called him to do. Don't quit; shift. Shift into a new way of doing it. This is the challenge: to choose to go through a season of struggle instead of embracing the relief. He persevered because he saw him who is invisible. Do you always need results? Do you always need compliments? Do you always need a quick hit or can you get an ugly dub every once in a while?
I told Elijah, "Not every win is going to be pretty. Sometimes it's an ugly dub". Moses didn't do it just right, but he didn't quit, and neither will you. God didn't bring you here to hear this so you could just quit in increments, you know, slowly withdrawing yourself from your own life until there's really nothing of you left. Slowly withdrawing from your relationships until there's no real intimacy, just the illusion of it; slowly withdrawing your expectation from the gates of heaven until you no longer pray expecting anything to really happen, because you don't believe that he is or that he rewards those who diligently seek him. We grow in increments; we quit in increments.
Today, the Lord said to tell you "You're too grown to give up". I want to pray for you now. Stand up all over…all over the auditorium, all over Lake Norman, all over Matthews, all over Riverwalk, all over Winston-Salem…all over. Right there in your home, why don't you stand right now. I want the Enemy to see you standing. I want him to know you're still going to be standing tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next day and the next day and the next day. I don't know. I just hear the Lord saying, "You're too grown, and I've done too much, and I've entrusted too much, and you've survived too much to give up over this".
Father, right now, by faith like Moses, we want to see him who is invisible. What a paradox. To see what we can't see? To believe what we can't understand. Lord, your ways are higher than ours. I bring before you all of your children one by one, the ones you have called by name, the ones you have chosen, the ones you have protected from their birth until this moment. You saw their worth from the moment of their birth. You did not see it when the world conferred it upon them. It is not contingent on any behavior or performance. Their worth is great in your eyes, yet they are quitting on themselves, giving up on themselves. We choose in this moment the riches of Christ over the treasures of Egypt. We choose in this moment the uncomfortable growth in our lives over the convenience and the relief of sin.
I thank you, Lord, today that you have given us this message of freedom. We bring it all before you now, because we're standing between two identities too. We need your help in these moments, God, that we would not hide, that we would not run, that we would not take discomfort as a sign it's time for us to leave, but, God, that we would stand in this place. You have need of perseverance. You have need of faith. God, we're not asking you to take away all of our problems, because I don't think that's a prayer you'd answer. It would be nice, but it's not going to happen. Instead, increase our faith. We want to outgrow our insecurities until greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world. We want to outgrow what we've worried about as we worship you. No created thing has control over you or your will. So, God, right now we declare in the name of Jesus, the name that is above every name, the one whom we are identified with, the one who is seated in heaven… We declare that our identity is in him. It is in you, and it is by you, and it is for you. We thank you for this word.
Right now, I want to give an invitation for somebody to receive Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life. You've never trusted him for your salvation. You've never trusted him for the forgiveness of your sin. The Bible says that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. You will be saved. You will be set free. You will be made new.
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. I believe this is a defining moment in your life. You've been running from God. You've been running from truth. You've been running from yourself, but God brought you to this moment. The situations and circumstances of your life have all aligned to bring you to this moment to place your faith in Jesus Christ, not by a pledge to do better but by an open heart that receives the grace of God.
So, right now, if that's you, right where you are, I want you to repeat this prayer after me out loud. God will hear from heaven, and he will forgive your sin, and he will cleanse you of all unrighteousness. Now repeat after me all across the church, everybody praying out loud for the benefit of those who are coming to God:
Heavenly Father, I am a sinner in need of a Savior, and I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Today, I make Jesus the Lord of my life. I believe Jesus died that I could be forgiven and rose again to give me life. I receive this new life. This is my new beginning.
On the count of three, raise your hand if you just prayed that prayer. One, two, three! In the chat say, "I received Jesus". "I believe I received the grace of God, and I'm walking in a new beginning. I said, I'm walking in a new beginning. I know who my Father is. My sins are forgiven". We decree and declare over your life the old has gone, the new has come. Let's give God a great shout of praise for all of the souls coming home to the Father's arms! God bless you.