Steven Furtick - When God Says Maybe
I love that little phrase: "The means of making decisions in the presence of the Lord". Everybody has a means of making decisions. Everyone has a way that they try to figure out, "Where is this going? Can I trust this person"? I like this method a lot, because all the priest had to do was take out the Thummim. It stands for perfection or decision. Then he would take Urim, which represents light, which always represents revelation, which always represents knowledge. When God would speak through these stones, you would inquire of him. If the answer was affirmative, Urim would light up and you would know, "God wants us to do it".
Like when David was facing a battle at Ziklag and he had to go back and recover his family and the families of his men. He asked the priest, "Bring me an ephod, because I need to seek the Lord, because if I go into this battle and God doesn't want me to go into this battle…" "If I do this venture, if I go after this thing and God doesn't want me to do this thing, I'll be defeated, but if he says 'Yes,' no power in hell can stand against me. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few". So David said, "Bring me the ephod, because if God gives me light on this situation I can fight this battle. If God gives me light on this situation, I can stand the trial. I can stand the test. I can pass it. I can do it if God says, 'Yes.'" But sometimes God would say "No," and then sometimes the stone would do nothing. What that meant was "God doesn't want to answer this right now".
In other words, if I can take you back to middle school, "I love you. Do you love me? Check yes or no". Sometimes I would put a third box called "Maybe". Sometimes they would ask God, "Should we go? Should we stay? Should we do it? Should we not?" and the stone would do nothing. What do you do with them? "Maybe". Don't you wish you had a Urim and a Thummim in your closet? Come on. Right next to your belts? I'd rather have a Urim and a Thummim than a Rolex. What a blessing it would be. Do you know how many staff members I never would have hired to begin with? This is a big church. Can I be real with you? If I could have just had that special stone, pull it out… Wouldn't that be cool? Can you imagine?
How many things would you have done differently and how helpful would it be when you're making decisions if you could just have a stone to light up and tell you, "Yes, this is God"? You know how your kids start hanging out with friends and you're wondering, "I don't know about these parents. They seem kind of… I don't know. I smelled something on their clothes. It smelled like it might have been weed or maybe it was something else, but I'm not sure. Lord, should I let my kids hang out with these kids"? And God says, "Yes," and you can get some sleep. Or "God, should I take this job? It has more pay, but it's going to mean more hours". I just think it would be so cool if it would light up and tell me, yet God knows something about me that I don't know about me. Even if he gave me the light to know what to do, a lot of times I wouldn't have the faith to do it.
The truth is that even sometimes when you know what to do, even sometimes when you know this is God… They had these stones. It was behind the breastplate, and the breastplate was under the pomegranate tree, and the priest was doing nothing with it. They had the means of making decisions to know the will of God, but their fear and their complacency had put them in a place, because when you have the instruments but don't use them… How can God speak to you when you can't find this between Sundays? How can God give you his wisdom? The important thing about it was Jonathan said, "We don't have the ephod. Ahijah has the ephod. We don't have complete clarity on this situation". But what he had that was so important was the right person to turn to and talk about it.
I need you to understand the value not only of what God says to you in your life but about who you say it to after God says it to you. The right people will give you the go-ahead. The right people will say, "You know what? I'm going to help you as you do this. I know the addiction has you about three different cycles now, and it looks like this one won't be any different, but whether or not you make it, I'm going to be here with you on it. So let's go ahead and do this dumb thing, this impossible thing, this crazy thing". Then sometimes they have to turn and tell you, "That ain't God at all". But it's who you say it to. It's a 50/50 thing. It's not just my relationship with God; it's my relationship with others. A lot of us are suffering in silence in our relationship with God because we're living in bitterness with our relationship with others. You can't hear God just like this.
If Jonathan would have had an armor-bearer who told him, "You know what, man? Let me know how that turns out. I'm praying for you. Sign of the cross," I guarantee you the battle wouldn't have moved on beyond Beth Aven that day like it did. Even for me, I can say this. When people say, "How did you know God wanted you to start a church…"? I read a book. I felt inspired. I got up and preached. It seemed to help people. I read a book. I got a wife. We were doing our thing. One day she looked at me in the mountains of Tennessee. We were at some youth camp. Carl Cartee was leading worship. We came back to the room. People ask, "How did God speak to you it was time for you to start the church"? Because I wanted to start it when I was 40. The church wouldn't even be here right now if Holly didn't turn to me… Not God. She was my Urim. God used her like that.
She said, "It's time for you to go start this church". I said, "When I'm 40". She said, "No". Do you know how many people I've seen go start coffee shops because they like coffee? They hear a message like this and abuse it and think the whole point of the message is just go do the dumbest thing you can think of that you have a halfway interest in and then blame the Devil when it doesn't work out because it was spiritual warfare and attack and "Nobody believed in my dream" and "I'm nothing but Jesus on the cross, garden of Gethsemane, squeezed like the olives and the oil is coming out…" All of that is dumb, because I'm not even talking about that. I'm talking about who you talk to about what God is saying to you. Now I get to return the favor. The other day she turned to me and was like, "Hey, I'm about to tell you something I think God is speaking to me". It's always a 50-50 thing. Always. I'm confident, but I'm not certain. She was like, "Don't laugh at me". I'm like, "Why would I laugh at you? Tell me". What she told me… I said, "Not only do you have to do that, but you have to do this, this, this, this, and this, because that's awesome". Then I think she was sorry she told me, because she didn't want to do this, this, this, this, and this. She just wanted to do that. But we started talking.
Do you see how important it is, not only what God says to you…? It's not only this beam of the cross but it's this one too. I don't have Urim and Thummim, but I have Eugene (I needed a rhyme; it was a stretch at best) and Irene. I have people. This is so key. It's a 50/50 faith. That means it is a divine partnership, where Jonathan says, "There is something God can do, and then there is something God will not do that only we can do". Faith is 50/50. James proves it clearly. Not only does Jonathan exemplify it; James explains it when he says, "Faith without works is dead". It takes two. This is a 50/50 proposition.
Why would God do for you what he gave you the strength to do for you? It is a 50/50 faith. It is not my faith that saves me, and I'm grateful for that. How many are grateful that your faith in Christ for salvation is not 50/50? If it was, I would be in hell before Monday at 3:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. But because he is my Great High Priest and because he took the breastplate of his own righteousness into the Most Holy Place and shed his blood on the mercy seat, I don't ever have to doubt if he wants to see me or hear me or love me or throw his arms around me. He is my righteousness, and I am his child, and he is my Great High Priest. Foundational faith. Even that faith is a gift of God so that no one can boast. Watch this. Jonathan said, "Perhaps the Lord will…" It's 50/50. I know he can. I think he will. It's 50/50. I know God is with me, and I think this is where he's leading me. It's 50/50. I'm a 50/50 leader.
I pulled 70 staff in this Monday and said, "This is what I think God is doing. I can't put a bow on it, but we're going to find out together". Why? Because God won't reveal truth if I don't move toward it. Ever. The issue is this: experience is the friend of wisdom, but it can be the enemy of faith. Do you need me to run that back? Experience is the friend of wisdom, but if you get like Saul and Ahijah and keep the ephod under the pomegranate tree… Jonathan said, "We're going to have to be our own ephod. We're going to have to put ourselves out there and see if God will". Eugene Peterson had this idea. He's in heaven now, but he was trying to preach the Bible to his church. He realized they weren't really getting it, so he sat down to write a translation of the Bible in a way they could understand.
You know that little version on your Bible on your phone? I hope you have the Bible on your phone. I hope you have the Bible up above Facebook on your phone, because you need that one to start your day. You really do. You don't need to know what's going on in Russia every second, but you need to know what God intends for your life. If you click on it, there will be one versions that says "MSG". It has nothing to do with a Chinese restaurant. It's The Message translation, and it was written by a man who had an idea. "What if I write the Bible in the language that's common to the people"? He ended up translating the whole Bible that way. The Message translation. All because maybe God will use this… if you act on it. It's 50/50. "I'm not sure. I don't know".
Look at what he said when he translated 1 Samuel 14:6, my favorite verse about faith in the Old Testament. "Jonathan said to his armor bearer, 'Come on now…'" Come on now. Let's do it now. Not when the priest gets his act together, not when the government gets its act together, but now. We have to do this now. "Come on now, let's go across to these uncircumcised pagans". Then he said the title of my series. "Maybe God will work for us". Maybe. Faith is being able to move on a "maybe". Do you know what that means? It's 50/50. It might not work, but God is always working. I'm confident in the second even when I'm not certain in the first.
It takes the kind of faith, church, to say, "Maybe. Maybe if I do this… Maybe, and maybe it won't, and maybe God will use this thing I think I'm supposed to do to lead to something I was really supposed to do, so even if the first thing fails, at least I'm not sitting still in fear". But it takes faith to move on a "maybe". When Urim has gone dark and Saul is under a tree and you don't know what to do but to move toward it, God says, "Move toward it. It may work, and even if it doesn't, I will". It is the power to move on a "maybe," to know that God is mystery, but he has revealed his character is trustworthy. I can move on a "maybe". "Father, I don't want to do this, but nevertheless, not my will but yours be done".
So I'm going to go see about this, and maybe… I have a "maybe" faith, enough faith to do it and not know the conclusion but trust God in the process. It's a "maybe" faith. I'm confident. I'm not certain, but I'm confident. You will find yourself many times in your life in a "maybe" moment. Some of you are there right now. It's a "maybe" moment for you. Maybe. You are giving yourself to a marriage that you don't know if it can live like Ezekiel in the valley of bones. You don't even know if anything is going to happen, but you're prophesying and speaking forth and believing God to send the winds, and you're living in the "maybe" moment. Maybe if we start a church… Maybe. I know who God is, and I know nothing can stop him, but it's 50/50. Do you want to do it anyway? Maybe. The miracle is in the "maybe". I wish I could preach this to every discouraged heart today. God lives in a place called maybe. Faith lives in a place called maybe. So if you are in a "maybe" moment today, that's where God lives.