Steven Furtick - How Your Thoughts Lead You
The littlest thing in your day can set you in a direction you don't even realize until it is so depressing. You didn't even realize something so little… That's why I have to be so very careful what the first thing I look on my phone for when I get up in the morning is, because it doesn't take much. I don't care who you follow on Instagram. They find a way into your feed. The people you unfollowed find a way back in. The algorithm will attack you. Somebody said, "The Devil is a roaring lion". So is the Instagram algorithm. It is looking for someone to devour. That's why they call it a feed. I figured this out. He's looking to eat you alive. Something so little.
It said the word from Elijah's mouth controlled the weather system. How could something so small…? How could a wet market on the other side of the world have you shut down and grounded from traveling? There has never been a better time for me to preach this message I want to preach today, because everybody has to agree in this moment, if you've never agreed before, that the littlest thing in your life or the littlest thing in someone else's life can affect you in a way… The littlest things in your life right now, if you can receive this word from the Lord today, are controlling the things (and maybe we can help make this connection through studying Elijah a little bit) you have no control over. I'll do my best to break it down as we move. I've always read Romans 8:28 with a very specific categorization. Romans 8:28 is my favorite Bible verse because it gets me through anything. It says, "All things work together for the good of those that love God and are called according to his purpose".
How could I have quoted it for so long and only seen it through the lens of good things and bad things? I always read Romans 8:28 that all things, whether good or bad, work together for the good for those who are called according to God's purpose. Now I realize that Romans 8:28 doesn't just apply to good things and bad things; it applies also to big things and little things. It doesn't just mean good things and bad things. It means the big things and the little things, and that's why you cannot despise the day of small beginnings. Everything little leads to something big. That's how you got here. That's how everything you see got here. It started with somebody's thought, an impulse in the brain you cannot even see with the human eye. A virus has shut down the world. Show me a coronavirus. You can't. Show me the effects of it. You can't get away from it.
How can something so little affect something so big? How can something that happened to you when you were 12 still be haunting you when you're 42? How can something so little control something so big? That's the lens with which I was looking at the prophet Elijah's life. I was saying, "He controlled the weather with his word". I thought about how our words control the weather, how when we speak things, when we say things, when we say them not even out loud but to ourselves, it affects the weather of our hearts. How can a little thing like a thought lead you down a track…? I mean, it's such a little thing, but little things lead to big things.
So, the prophet Elijah prophesies a drought. It's a wonderful story, and we could elaborate on it for days, but we just want to talk about this little instruction God gave him in verse 2. "Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: 'Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan.'" That verse kind of sounds on the surface like God will tell you everything you need to do in your life, but I want to show you something very interesting about how God spoke to Elijah. One time someone asked me, "What do you mean when you say, 'God spoke to me'"? He asked it very innocently. He said, "I hear you preaching and say, 'God spoke to me.' I'm not sure God ever spoke to me. What do you mean when you say, 'God spoke to me'"?
The challenging thing about it was he was hearing that as a voice, but I meant it as a thought. I don't experience God through my ears. I experience him through my thoughts, and then I call it "God spoke to me," but I didn't hear a voice. Here's what's interesting about how God was leading Elijah. You have to pay attention to the small things in the text, because the little things matter. He told him, "Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there".
Whoa. Can we stop for a minute and talk about how ridiculous…? How is this going to work? We just read it. We just skip right past it. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. He goes down there and the birds bring him…" The birds? Get ready for God to explode your box of how you think he's going to provide for you. We have all of these limitations on ways we think God can take care of us. We have all of these limitations on ways we think God can take care of our family. We have all of these limitations on ways we think God can use us. We have all of these limitations on ways we think God can order our lives, but God said, "Get ready for me to take the lid off and start blessing you through birds. And not just any kind of birds, but I'm going to use ravens…unclean birds, dirty birds".
Have you ever had God bless you through a dirty bird? I need you to put a "dirty bird" blessing in the chat if you've ever had God use something just ridiculous. It didn't make sense. You didn't see it coming. You didn't even like it. God has used people I didn't even like to bless me before. Dirty birds. The ravens were dirty birds. God said, "I'm going to use a dirty bird to feed you by the Kerith Ravine". He does this for a while. If I could tell you the whole story, I would. Ahab needs to see God controls the rain, not Baal. He needs to know that God is in control, that God is not only in control of the big things in our lives but the small things in our lives. So, he takes Elijah to a place where he feeds him what he needs in that season.
Have you been in a season lately where God hasn't been feeding you the same way he used to feed you? The word is so relevant right now, because up until now, you had a certain way of how you thought it had to be. I had a certain way I thought church was supposed to be. I thought in order to have church you had to let people in the building, but God took the lid off of that. God is trying to take the lid off of that just to show me that church is not just going to be contained to a physical location. Now I'm setting you up. God is trying to show you the same thing in your life. You've had some people leave you because God wanted to show you that you don't need them to make it. Watch what the Bible says. It says that every day the birds brought him bread in the morning and bread and meat in the evening and he drank from the brook, but in verse 7, it says, "Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land".
Let's talk about cause and effect. The brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Why had there been no rain in the land? Because Elijah spoke, "There will be no rain in the land". Now he is the victim of the consequence of his own obedience. It's cause and effect. Every day he goes out to get some water from the brook, there's a little bit less and a little bit less and a little bit less. You have to be wondering right about now, "When is God going to stop it from going down"? Have you been wondering that lately? Like, "When is God going to stop it from decreasing"? This is not a message for everybody. If you're living in a time of overflow, it's wonderful. I'll see you next week. I'll preach next week on living in the overflow, but this message is about the little bit. Every time he came to the brook… This didn't happen all at once. It's just a little bit less, a little bit less, a little bit less, a little bit less, until the point where one day he comes to the brook and there's nothing there and he has to move to the next miracle.
So, how does God move you to your next miracle? Let me ask you a question. It's a conversation now. Do you want God to lead you? How did God lead Elijah from the brook to the widow's house? How does God get us from where we are to where he's taking us? How does he get us from the good work he began to the good work he wants to finish? It may not be the way you think. The Bible says God led Elijah to his next assignment through a limitation. We often say things like, "Where God guides, he provides". And he does. He'll put a dirty bird to feed you by a brook. He'll show you a secret stash that nobody else in the neighborhood even knows about. How many know I'm right about it? God will encourage you in ways that are specific to you, but just as sure as that is true, this is also true: sometimes God will lead you through what you lose. This is the more painful thing to talk about, but I think it's very important.
Is God trying to lead you by limitations, and is God trying to lead you just as much by the doors he closes as the doors he opens? If the brook had kept flowing miraculously, Elijah never would have left that spot. If Elijah never would have left that spot, he never would have met that widow. If he never would have met that widow, that widow and her family would have died of starvation. If he never would have gone to Zarephath, which was right in the heart of Baal territory, he never would have gotten to Mount Carmel where he called down fire and the whole nation repented.
Isn't it crazy how a little thing can lead to a big thing? Isn't it weird how something can go all over the world but start with one little connection? Isn't it crazy how God can use something in your life that you thought was bad, but later you look back and say, "No, it wasn't a bad thing; it was just a thing that led to a thing"? It's just a thing that leads to a thing. All things work together for the good. If the brook doesn't dry up, Elijah doesn't move on. If they didn't break your heart, you wouldn't have learned the lesson you learned. If you didn't go through Goliath, you wouldn't have been ready to be a king. If you hadn't been thrown in a pit, you wouldn't have been positioned in Egypt to feed generations. "You meant it for evil, but God used it for good".
We have all of these lids or, I could call it, all of these limitations on the ways we think God can move. If it feels good we think it's God, and if it feels bad we think it's the Devil, but God is calling us to recategorize in this season of our lives. I'll prove it to you. David came to Goliath and saw him as a meal ticket. The rest of the nation saw him as an enemy. The king said, "If you kill Goliath, you'll never pay taxes again and you can marry my hot daughter. The hot one". David said, "What now? Let me do the math on this. Okay. How big is he? It doesn't matter. Watch this". Because a little thing… You look like you know the power of a little thing. Saul said, "You're only a boy. You can't fight him. He's nine feet tall. You think somebody as little as you can kill somebody as big as him"? David said, "No, no, no. I only look little. See, the reason I look little is because I have to be hidden. I'm a secret weapon. A secret weapon can't be really big. God had to sneak me to the battle line".
And how did he get there? Through bringing a lunch to his brothers. That's a little thing. What did he see when he got there? A nine-foot-tall giant. That's a big thing. Isn't it crazy how a little thing can lead to a big thing, how you coming through Moncks Corner, South Carolina, could lead me to Christ? Isn't that crazy that I went to North Greenville and met my wife because you came through Moncks Corner because you signed up for the ministry? Obedience in a little thing. Take the lid off a little, because I found out what you call little might be the thing God leads you to what is exceedingly abundantly above or beyond what you could ask or imagine.