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2021 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - Then They Gathered

Steven Furtick - Then They Gathered

Steven Furtick - Then They Gathered

Come in the kitchen with me and let me show you something God is speaking to me about. Lick the bowl and taste and see that the Lord is good. Acts 1:4: "On one occasion, while he was eating with them…" See? It's in the Bible. Come in the kitchen. Lick the bowl. He was eating with them.

"…he gave them this command: 'Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' Then they gathered around him and asked him, 'Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?' He said to them: 'It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.' After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 'Men of Galilee,' they said, 'why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.' Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers".

Y'all, I stared at this text so long. I didn't want the familiarity of this text to eclipse its significance for this moment. The first thing I kept seeing was the word y'all shouted in this section in Acts 1:8: power. "You will receive power". For the longest, I thought that was the message God had for us: when we release our pride, we receive God's power. The Lord said, "That is true, and you can preach it sometime, but not this time. That's not the message". So I said, "Well, what else could it be"? There are all kinds of things you see in this passage that are amazing, like when they said, "This same Jesus will return". He doesn't change. His nature doesn't change. His character doesn't change. His purpose doesn't change. Not controlled by some political power what Jesus looks like. He's not made in our image; we're made in his. He doesn't change. We change as we behold him.

The Lord said, "That's not the message for Elevation Leader either". I thought, "Well, we're running out of stuff here, Lord. That's the best stuff in the passage. What is it? 'Do not leave Jerusalem.' Is it 'Do not leave'? Am I supposed to tell them 'Don't run off and join another church. Don't sign the divorce papers,' or whatever? Is that the message: 'Do not leave'"? The Lord said, "No. It's not there". What the Lord told me to focus on today is in verse 6. This is my message: Then They Gathered. I want to preach to you today on those three words: then they gathered.

One of our volunteers… His kids play sports with our kids, and he asked me right at the beginning when he saw me up here sweating on the stage with Chris and Jonsal and Jenna on stools preaching back in February of 2020… He said, "Is that weird"? I said, "What"? He said, "Learning to preach in an empty room". I said, "It's not learning to preach in an empty room; it's remembering". I found out a long time ago a lot of spiritual growth isn't about learning anything; it's about remembering. "Remember who you are". The book of First Simba. No. It wasn't weird at all. It just took me to remember. Like how David said, "This is an unusual circumstance with a nine-foot giant whose helmet outweighs me. I really didn't come here to fight, but I do remember how to, because I've done that before. I've never fought this before, but I have fought".

The key in the David and Goliath passage is to realize ("The God who delivered me from the paw of the lion and bear will deliver me from this uncircumcised Philistine") that the enemies change but the power you're fighting in doesn't. So, every time you shift from one stage of your life to another or one mode of leadership to another or when you shift in the role you're playing, like our campus pastors when everything shut down… I'm not trying to take us so far back, because I know we just got good news that everything is going to… And I'm really hesitant to trust it, so I'm kind of dipping my toe in feeling happy about that. But just to go back to that time, a lot of them who were used to hugging people, praying for people, and being with people basically did the job as if they were hired at a call center.

Instead of (to quote the great Lin-Manuel Miranda) the room where it happened, it was all of a sudden the Zoom where it happened. The adaptation of this church in that time was one of the greatest proofs I've ever seen in my life of the grace of God upon this ministry. There is a grace for adaptation. Just ask Moses, who needed a sign that God was with him, and all of a sudden, the shepherd's staff he had carried in the wilderness of his decision to kill an Egyptian became the instrument, as he threw it on the ground and it turned into a snake, to prove to him that God can change anything. There is a grace for adaptation. Just ask the disciples, who were also in a desert place trying to feed some hungry crowds. Crowds become mobs really quickly. I'll talk about that momentarily.

So, on the verge of that turn, when you realize a crowd is not a church… You understand when the disciples came to Jesus and placed the meager resource (you know the feeding of the 5,000) into his hand, it became enough as he touched it as they brought it. There is a grace for adaptation. In your life right now, I want you to know there is a grace for adaptation. There is a grace for you by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit in God-taught words (what Paul teaches in Corinthians) for us to express in our lives realities we have no experience of, but God gives it to us as we need it. That's the grace of adaptation.

In Acts, chapter 1, particularly, the Holy Spirit of God is coming to these disciples who we listed a moment ago. Peter, James, and John, the famous ones; Philip and Thomas, who make some cameo appearances; Bartholomew (aw, shout-out Bartholomew; I've never preached about him before); the women, Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. They're all standing at a moment where it's very different than it is for us, because everything is changing in their world.

It was different to be a disciple of Jesus back then, because back then there was a lot of political unrest. It was different back then, because back in those times there were many arguments about gender equality. Back then, to be a disciple of Jesus was hard. Back then it was complicated, because as the Jewish believers were becoming Christians, many within their religious community saw their conversion to Christ as traitorous to their identity nationally. It was different then. People used to divide themselves by things like skin color or custom, so it was really different then. The challenge becomes for me to bring you out of this irrelevant context in which the Bible was written. But there is grace for adaptation.

I want you to think about this. Even the way they would experience the presence of God was changing as they stood on the Mount of Olives, which is itself a place of transition. Remember? The olives only become oil as they are crushed. That's exactly what has happened to the disciples as their tears are barely dried from watching Jesus die. It has only been 40 days, and now he's leaving them for good. You felt like God left you a few times last year. You felt like God left you, like maybe you did something wrong and he took his hand off you. You didn't tell your volunteer team that. I hope you didn't. That's too heavy for your volunteer team to know about if you're a leader. We carry things as leaders, don't we? I'm not just talking about as a pastor. I mean, even if you're a leader in your home or if you're a leader in your business or if you're leading a volunteer team that had a Gideon opportunity over the last year.

Do you know what that is? Gideon started with 36,000 and got down to 300 before God gave him the victory. How many of y'all's volunteer teams are coming out of a Gideon season? You still don't look like you're good with it. That's why I wanted to preach to you today about "Then they gathered". Back then when they gathered, there was no multisite technology. Back then when they gathered, there was no nonprofit exemption for charitable giving. Back then when they gathered, there was no guarantee that they could worship in safety. And I'm not talking about masks. Back then. They gathered, which is a miracle in itself that they're together again. If you remember at the cross, it says that all of Jesus' disciples, the ones we just listed, scattered when he died.

So I was happy to see in Acts, chapter 1, "Then they gathered". Although the disappointment and disfiguration of their picture of the way the kingdom of God would look when it came in power had been completely devastating to their faith and even caused them to fail, God brought them back to this moment to give them a divine, supernatural empowerment for the task of taking the gospel to the world. They gathered. We went through a season where the way we gathered changed so much, but I found a verse I want to show you that all of you good Baptists… Are there any Baptists in the house? Are there any recovering Baptists in the house?

I went to a Baptist school, and before that I spent a lot of time in Baptist church. I grew up Methodist. They always quoted this verse in prayer meeting, because nobody really came to prayer meeting. I'm telling you the truth. There would be nobody at prayer meeting, because Brother Wilson would pray for 55 minutes, and I'm hungry. So nobody came to prayer meeting, not because they didn't love God, but Brother Wilson didn't know when to shut up. So, there would be very few people there, and it could feel kind of discouraging, so somebody would quote at the beginning of the prayer meeting Matthew 18:19: "Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven". Watch this. Verse 20: "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them".

I only ever heard that verse as an excuse for bad attendance. "Well, the Word says if it's only two or three, Lord, you're here with us. We know Sister Mary has a cold, but, Lord, it's me and Wilson. Show up, Lord". I started quoting that verse with renewed fervor and a revived vigor last year. I'd be looking out to preach back in March, and the cameras were on, and nobody was really in the room but Chunks over there underneath the camera. Chunks loves the Lord, but his face doesn't know he loves the Lord yet when I'm preaching. He's my guy, but I'd look over at Chunks and I'd be like, "Lord, you said two or three". I'd look at Holly. "I've got Holly. I've got Chunks. We can do this".

Have you ever had to gather something that was…? What I love about our church that I saw last year was that we didn't stop gathering. We had to adapt, but we gathered, and we stood on the promise of Matthew 18 that was spoken by Jesus. If it's just two or three… "God, I have to count the cat right now, because I'm a part of eFam, and I didn't plan to be. Hold hands with me, little kitty, because the Bible said if two or three… I'll be two, you be three, and let's praise the Lord together. I'll be Paul. You be Silas. We have to get out of this prison". They gathered. Now watch this. Not the crowd. The crowd was long gone. We talked about gathered.

Let's talk about they. Blind Bartimaeus didn't gather. The woman with the issue of blood who was healed by Jesus is not reporting as having gathered. Where is Lazarus? Isn't it crazy how certain seasons will thin out who is your perception of they? Before we give the disciples too much credit, they didn't stay until the end either. Just John and the women. Go to the narrative. Go to your favorite Easter story. Look at the cross. You're not going to find loudmouth Peter. You're not going to find honest Thomas. (Y'all remember we renamed him.) None of them are there. Just John and Jesus' mama. Then they gathered. The reason I was excited to come preach today is I wanted to talk to they. I feel happy. Did you see Holly tear up? She teared up because there's a difference between them and they. I don't think you're perfect or anything like that. I wouldn't ever put that pressure on you. I don't think there are people in this room who haven't struggled.

There are thousands of people. Right? I would say by the law of averages, there are leaders in this room who got high in the last day or two and are still trying to press forward and do what God called you to do. I have to be real about that, because if we think the they God uses are the ones who never cussed anybody out in Target trying to get some toilet paper… I'm going to have to update that reference. Never cussed anybody out at a gas pump. "I'll beat you over the head with this gas pump". That's not an excuse for us to not grow up in the wisdom and maturity of God, but it is a permission for us to realize that there is grace for adaptation. You are not yet all that you will be, but that doesn't stop you from being they. I think who you include in that they in your life is maybe the biggest determining factor in where your life ends up.

Some days you don't get to choose. Some of that is determined by circumstances outside of your control. For me, this is my they. This is what God called me to give my life to. They gathered. Even though Peter cut off Malchus' ear in the garden, he gathered on the Mount of Olives. Even though he couldn't stay awake while Jesus was sweating like drops of great blood as the capillaries were bursting as he was preparing to go to the cross (Peter, James, and John were sleeping), they gathered. What am I trying to say? Don't beat yourself up too much where you can't receive the grace God gave you to change. Who needs this? Sometimes I don't feel like they. Honestly, sometimes, as I observe myself in contrast to the standard of Jesus Christ, there's a lot of unworthiness that can get in.

What the Enemy would love to do is to use… Do y'all still believe in the Devil? "More than ever, Pastor Furtick. I'll tell you right now. He sleeps in the room next door. I'll introduce you to him. I'll show you a picture". What the Enemy loves to do is to use the condemnation to keep you from receiving the grace that would enable you to change, to get you to think you are not they. But it said, "Then they gathered". The same ones who scattered at the cross gathered at the ascension, and there weren't many left. There weren't many left at the upper room…120 to be exact. Do you know how many people we had when we started our church? The first Sunday we ever gathered…121. I wish it was exactly 120, but I have to tell the truth. It was 121. Let's pretend the "one" was Judas. We have to make this illustration work. It's the only one I have. I'm telling you, something about this season of church and ministry… I thought I should share this with you today.

It brought me back to realizing that God didn't just give us a crowd called Elevation Church that buys tickets at tour stops and listens to songs on Pandora and watches sermons on YouTube once every five weeks. God gave us a core of committed disciples, imperfect disciples. I came to remind you that you're still they. Holly, God gave us a they. When we were praying back in 330 Dellwood Drive back in Shelby, our first home that we bought for $92,500 in Shelby, North Carolina… When we were praying back then, these are they. Does that blow your mind? Now, they're dysfunctional, just like us. They have bad tempers sometimes, just like us. They don't read their Bibles every morning like they should, just like us. "You're a pastor". I'm a person too. But I'm they. Peter preached on the day of Pentecost after cussing to the girl at the campfire.

All of the theys, make some noise. When they see us, Elevation Church, out in the community doing good and giving cars to single moms and giving education and supplies, I want them to say, "There they go again". "There they go again acting like they really believe it's more blessed to give than to receive". There's a great value for me in realizing how back in the day, when it was just 120, we didn't have these cool worship songs like "Graves Into Gardens" and "The Blessing," but we would just sing the old songs, like Robin Mark songs, like: These are the days of Elijah Declaring the word of the Lord And these are the days of your servant Moses Righteousness being restored And though these are days of great trial Of famine and darkness and sword…

I was the worship leader, because I could afford me. I couldn't afford Kari Jobe and Chris Brown. I couldn't afford all of that, so it was just me singing: Behold he comes, riding on the clouds Shining like the sun at the trumpet call Lift your voice, it's the year of jubilee And out of Zion's hill salvation comes. There's no God like Jehovah There's no God… What was the blessing for me of the last 14 months, as our church has had to reinvent from the inside out, has been to realize that just like the disciples received the greatest gift of God's presence in between what they had already known and what they couldn't possibly predict, God was creating for our church a space for what we didn't even know to pray for yet. In January, we got together with Elevation Worship and Maverick City and recorded this album called Old Church Basement. Even though the campuses are open and some people aren't going back… I mean, God love them. They'll go everywhere else but church, but when it comes to church…

All right. Now I'm going to tell y'all a story I wasn't going to tell you. I was at an establishment recently, and normally, the people who are so nice who say, "We love your church. Thank you for all that y'all do in the community…" Usually they say "Y'all," which makes me feel good, because this church is not me; it's they. So, anyway, this woman was not saying any of that. She said, "What are y'all doing having church right now"? I said, "Oh, ma'am, there are multiple things. We have our online ministry for people who aren't able to come". We do all that, and it's amazing, and God positioned us for that. We looked really smart when this pandemic hit, like we had foreseen the strategic global pandemic and we'd set up our online ministry so we could have a dispersion of… No, no, no. That was just God setting us up. That was just the grace of God he knew we needed for the transition. We give him the glory for that.

So I said, "Our teams are amazing, and they can watch. We put all of that out". I said, "But for the people who want to come, we open it up. It's safe. Our teams are doing a great job. Our volunteers are doing a great job". She goes, "I don't know if I believe you. That's a lot of people". I said, "It is a lot of people, and what I'm telling you is you don't have to come. It's online, 9:30". Forgive me, Lord. I am they. I should have walked out, but I didn't. She kept going. I mean, just going and going. Then it hit me. "Wait a minute. She's arguing with me about having church, and she's standing right here with no mask on". One of those saints of God. One of those. That has nothing to do with my point.

What I was saying was it was a gift for me in the last year. I wasn't happy about people who lost their jobs. I wasn't happy about nurses working 18-to-20-hour shifts. I wasn't happy about kids not being able to go to school. I wasn't happy about people who were sick, obviously, people whose lives were hanging in the balance, and even those who lost loved ones. But what I became thankful for through the process of navigating ministry in a time of such isolation was that the space God left us was the room for something new he wanted to do. I'll never forget… I don't think I've told anybody this, maybe not even Holly. We were writing this song. It was one of the last songs we finished for the album Old Church Basement. The song was called "Come Again". Holly put it in her sermon last week. It talks about "I'm open".

Get this. At a time where we have all of these empty seats in this church, we came in. It was a two-night recording. Everybody was tested before they came in and everything. We did everything right. We came in here, and we turned this whole church… The whole room was empty. I asked Chandler and Brandon to meet me and finish the song because it needed to be finished. It said, "It's not a building you want to fill; it's my heart". That's all it said, and I didn't know what would come next, and we had to record it that night. We had written songs for six months, and we just needed one more line. I was trying stuff for like an hour. I sat right there, and Chandler was on a piano and Brandon was on a microphone. Then a prayer came to me, and I sang it.

I'm not the best singer, but I can get the job done when I need to. I sang: "It's not a building you want to fill; it's my heart," and I looked up at all of the seats in this room, this room, Ballantyne… I know everybody is in different rooms, but this room I'm in right now. I said, "This empty space is what you wanted all along". I'm looking at the empty seats, and a part of me wants to cry because these seats are so expensive. This building costs so much money. Like, Lake Norman and Riverwalk and all of these empty buildings giving me an ulcer as a leader and a CEO, but as a pastor… What if this empty space is what God wanted? When Jesus left the disciples in bodily form, he sent the Spirit to live within, and when the Spirit came, he said, "Greater works will you do in my name than I did in my body". But for the Spirit to be received, the body had to be released.

Before we shout about "You will receive power" in Acts 1:8, we have to talk about releasing our need to control or understand everything God does. Isn't that the hardest thing in the world? After all we've been through together, y'all won't be honest with me. Isn't it the hardest thing in the world to release your death grip on your plans for God? Because you know what Jeremiah 29:11 says. God says, "For I know the plans you have for me". Oh, it doesn't say that. "I know the plans I have for you". But the first step for those plans to be activated in a community or in an individual life is that you have to release the plans that were in the place where God wanted to do something you didn't even know to pray for him to do.

So, the more I sang it, the more I understood it. This empty space… It's not that God isn't going to rebuild our church… Oh, our churches are going to be full again. These buildings are going to be full again. These seats are going to be full again. That orange seat, that gray seat… It's going to be full again. Don't get used to having all that elbow room, baby, because I promise it's going to be packed out again really soon, soon and very soon.

Somebody is coming to take your seat. We're not doing empty rows for the next three years. No! We're about to fill this thing up for the glory of God. I prophesy to you: empty row, here comes a sitter! Somebody shout, "Here they come"! Here they come, the blind, the lame. Here they come, the hurting, the broken. Here they come! And the glory of the latter half shall be greater! I feel an anointing on this empty row that represents everything that is exceedingly, abundantly above all that you ask or imagine. He's able to do it. Here they come! "Then they gathered". God said, "I had to make some space for they". You remember? Make room. Stretch your tent curtains wide. Do not hold back. Do not fear. You will not be ashamed. You will not be disgraced.

That's the prophet Isaiah preaching to us. "I'll pour you out a blessing that you will not have room enough to receive it". Question: Is that a promise or a problem? So I wonder. Is this what God wanted all along? Not the virus or any of that. Please don't misinterpret. Y'all know me better than that. Right? Come on. There are no trolls in here today, are there? Okay. I'm just saying, then they gathered. Then. It would be one thing to say, "Then they gathered" after they had received the Holy Spirit, but the profundity of it is that they gathered while they were waiting. That's why I love y'all. These are they who didn't wait, who didn't wait for restrictions to be lifted, who didn't wait to have more answers.

Do you know what the best thing Jesus said in Acts 1 was for those of us who are control freaks and have a hard time releasing the way it used to be? "It is not for you to know". Did you all skip over that part? I know you did. You wanted to get to the part "You shall receive power". But in the unknown, that's the space. I don't like not knowing. I don't even like not knowing… Isn't it funny God gave me a sermon that he changed at the last minute while I was telling you that it's okay not to know? The Lord is funny. Hahaha. You've got jokes, Lord. But I wonder, did God put this on the calendar because he knew the moment we would be in as a global ministry? "Then they gathered". When? After they scattered.

So, this is something God gave me too. He said, "Tell the church, tell the ministry across every location…" There's the local church, and then there's the global church. It's one family now. This is they. The last year has forced us to be more creative. We've had to figure out… Thank God for the teams God gave us just to keep the gospel going out no matter what. That's amazing. I'm talking about you. The Lord said, "You were scattered to gather". What else is scattered to gather? Think about it. Psalm 126. This is a psalm of ascent. It means they would sing this song going up to church. Going up to the house of the Lord, they would sing this. This one is a little different because it was written after exile. It was a song about what God had done for them after they had spent a long time in another place.

That's what I thought was significant about this. We have our songs of ascent. Right? We have our songs that we sing in church as people are coming in, and sometimes those are the ones where those people who really don't have a lot of rhythm… They just stand there and kind of watch, and they wait for the… "I'm just waiting for the worship song. I just love the glory and the presence. I don't want to walk how you walk on water. I don't want to do any of that". It's fine, it's fine. You don't have to do it. The Lord gave his people a song for when they were going to the house of the Lord. Listen to what he said.

I want to read you the whole psalm. "When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed". "We couldn't even believe it happened. We could not even get our minds… We were like those who dreamed. It seemed so crazy. It seemed like a dream". "Our mouths were filled with laughter…" This is 586 BC. They've been in exile. The people are coming back. This is the song God gave them. "…our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, 'The Lord has done great things for them.'" "Then it was said among the nations". "When we came back, when we saw what God brought us through, then it was said among the nations". This is then. If you have ears to hear today, God is saying, "This is then". Then they gathered. Then the nations will say. It is a trick for you to always think then is somewhere out there. "When I get my teams back up…" They aren't all coming back. Judas is dead. Okay?

We have to pick Matthias and build another thing. We have to cast some lots and get another disciple. I'm not calling that sweet lady who couldn't come back and be a greeter Judas. I'm just using an analogy. Then it was said, after we spent a time in a foreign place but trusted in God to get us through it. That's what you've done. Not perfectly. Then it will be said. Then they gathered. Then. The Lord is saying, "This is then". It's now or never. The church either has a message or we don't have a message. We either are the bride of Christ or we're just playing around, just dating Jesus, just conveniently hooking up with God when we need something. This is then, and this is they.

He said, "When the Lord brought us back, we could not believe. When the Lord restored the…" God, would you restore the fortunes of Zion? Would you visit your people again with an outpouring of wisdom, with a message of reconciliation, God, with peace flooding our veins so that we walk on the earth as Christ was, so that we stand in the stead of the living God, urging men "Be reconciled to God. Turn, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord". I declare that these are the days of Elijah. These are the days of Ezekiel, the dry bones becoming as flesh. This is then. You are they. We have gathered in the name of him who became sin, who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God. You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. "The Lord has done great things for them". Verse 3: "The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev".

That's a dry place, the Negev. O God, it barely rains in the Negev, but when it does, it rips through so suddenly that if you're not ready for it, it'll wash you out. You've been in a dry place so long, but this is then. When God releases his Spirit, when God floods your heart, when God does what he said he would do, you have to be prepared beforehand, because it happens so suddenly. If you're not ready, you won't have room to receive it. Restore our fortunes, Lord. God is in a season of restoring the years the cankerworm and the palmerworm and the coronavirus have eaten. This is the verse I thought I would leave you with: "Those who sow with tears…" For everybody who has been mourning a disappointment in your life, for everyone who has been crying like the disciples cried at the cross, and your life has been scattered, the promise says, "Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy".

Let me ask a question. Who are those who God is speaking to today? If it's you, lift your hands to heaven. You don't have to be in this room. You know that by now. "Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow…" Even though you've been weeping, you never stopped sowing. That's the thing about it. Even though you've had depression that has been in your own life, you kept doing what God called you to do. You kept your eyes on the joy set before you. You kept sowing. The promise says, "Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow…" These are they who sowed anyway. These are those who gave anyway. These are those who prayed anyway. These are those who quoted Matthew 18 over your two-person eGroup on a Zoom call in April. These are they who sowed anyway.

So, are you ready for this? Here comes the promise. Get ready. It's a gully-washing promise, like a stream in a dry place. "…will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them". So, for a season, they wept, but then they gathered. For a season, they had to weep, but God said, "It's reaping time". "For in due season you shall reap if you faint not". These are they who did not faint. These are they who waited. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up on wings like eagles. They shall run and not grow weary. They shall walk and not faint". These are they who waited. God, now that we have made room, not for our old paradigm of church, not for our limited confines of what ministry looks like that was limited to physical buildings… I believe you scattered us for a season to gather a harvest for an eternal purpose. He scattered you for a season to gather for an eternal purpose, a harvest unto himself.

These are the days of the greatest ministry we have ever seen, but it has been scattered. It has been all over the place. God knows it has. Does that feel like your life, your mind, even your priorities? I felt scattered, really disoriented at times. "Who can I trust? Who's with me? What's going on? What will it be like on the other side"? "Then they gathered". From my heart, thank you for sowing in a season when you were personally struggling. Even if you scattered for a little while, welcome back. There's room for you in the heart of God. There's room for you in the plan of God. There's room for you in the story he's telling.

Now we have all this room to receive from God whatever he wants to do next in our ministry. I thought I would end my portion of this time by turning our auditoriums and living rooms and cafés where people are meeting… I threw that in: cafés. I just imagined someone is in a café somewhere, but maybe we can make it an upper room for a moment. Maybe we can be 120. Maybe we can offer God our lives as a foundation on which to build whatever he wants to build next. I don't want you to miss it because I slipped this in at the very end. They that scattered seed in a dry season gathered a harvest. You have so much to look forward to. Please don't give up on God. Please don't give up on yourself. Please don't diminish your gift. We have so much to look forward to. There's grace for adaptation. There's grace for mistakes, but we have to gather. "Then they gathered". They sowed in tears; they brought home a harvest. They sowed in tears, and they reaped in joy.

Lord, we're going up there with Bartholomew and Philip and Peter, James, and John, the Sons of Thunder. They were so messed up they asked which one of them could sit at your right hand and left hand, and you still let them come, so we're good. We're coming up here with the women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, and the brothers. We're coming up like the 120, and we realize you're reinventing us even in this moment. We'll look back on this day where we gathered and felt so good, and then you send us out and scatter us that you might gather us again. Lord, I thank you for everybody in this room beyond what they do in our church. God knows they're more than an usher. Not that these things are little, but, God, they're walking in multiple roles.

I thank you that you scatter your people everywhere in the world. You put some to be dentists and some to be doctors and some to be lawyers and some to be teachers. You have your people everywhere. That's how your kingdom advances as you scatter us so you might gather unto yourself a renewed people. "Then they gathered". Whatever happens next, Lord, in our local communities, whatever limitations or unforeseen turns or twists it takes, we're not leaving Jerusalem. We're waiting for the gift. So, in this upper room right now, come, Holy Spirit. Come breathe into these slain that they may live. I want to pray for somebody who has been out of church, and they miss you, and you miss them. Bring them back rejoicing, Lord. We have room for them. I want to pray for those who kept coming to church, but because we didn't really know, we just got so turned around and confused. But then they gathered. Without knowing the answers, they gathered in faith, and you moved.

Now this same Jesus who was taken up… This same power that raised him from the dead lives in us, your church. Restore the fortunes of Zion, Lord, and the glory of the latter house will be greater than the glory of the former house. This is then. Not when we were back in quadruple overflow at Ballantyne. No, no, no. This is then. "Then they gathered". I thank you, Lord, for our gatherings tomorrow. Some of them will be one-ninth full. "Then they gathered". Yeah, God. Redeem the empty space. Give us a new norm. We thank you that this ministry never stopped reaching. We reached more people in this last season than we ever reached. You did a greater work than our minds could comprehend. I release your people in the power of your Spirit now, God. These ministry gifts you've placed…their intelligence, their brilliance, their love, their compassion, their consistency…be multiplied into the earth, be multiplied into our cities, be multiplied into your kingdom. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. "Then they gathered". In Jesus' name, amen.

Scattered to gather. I hope you received that word today. I hope it was just what you needed. I'm telling you, I felt like our whole church was supposed to experience it. I don't know if you heard what I said at the beginning, but I wasn't planning on showing that message to our whole church, but God gave me something and said, "I want you to release it to everybody," and I believe it's what he's saying to us right now. It's what he's saying to me right now. I pray that this week God would just surround you with his favor. I know I've already prayed. I know I've already declared this over your life, but I pray that God would restore the fortunes of Zion, restore your joy, your peace. I pray that he would restore your health. Anything you've been lacking… We agree with you in prayer that God is a restorer and a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.

Thank you. Thank you to the thousands of you, tens of thousands of you, who are part of this ministry. Thank you for giving financially. Maybe God would lead you to begin doing that right now. You know you're they. Right? You're the one God is going to use. I thank you so much for sharing these messages with others. That's how we spread the gospel. They'll always pick on me because I come so close on these videos. I just like to get right up in your face, invade your personal space, and let you know it is an absolute privilege to minister the Word of God to you. Bless you.
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