Steven Furtick - Destroying Limitations In Your Mind
There's sometimes a tension between what you thought God showed you… It's a tension, and that tension is a real gift, because that's where growth happens. It's like, "God, I thought I was going to be married to her the rest of my life, but I'm not. We're not married now". That's painful, but what you do with it becomes your Joppa, which determines if you run from God's purpose for your future or run toward it. That's Joppa. The word God gave me was "Don't limit it with a label". The first thing he told Peter… Peter said in Acts 11:6, "I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds". Then after he saw the pigs in a blanket, he said, "Then I heard a voice telling me, 'Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.'"
Now when I read that, I said, "God was trying to get Peter to go hunting"? No. It wasn't about the animals. He was about to send Cornelius, who Peter saw as an unclean Gentile. So he was using this… It wasn't about bacon; it was about barriers, mental barriers. When he said, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat," it wasn't that God wanted Peter to kill a pig; it was that he was trying to kill Peter's categories. In this season of your life, God is trying to kill your categories. He's going to use people you did not even like to grow you up and mature you. There was one person the other day who shared a Bible verse with one of my kids, and they left our church years ago. They didn't even like me when they left, but when they gave a Bible verse to my kids, I said, "God, I don't care who hands them the Scriptures. I'll take a cold cup of water in the pit of hell from anybody. I don't care who hands it to them. Use who you want to use, God. Do what you want to do. Kill my categories".
As a matter of fact, when we say, "All things work together for the good," what we mean when we quote Romans 8:28 out of context… Romans 8:28 is connected and conjoined, incidentally, to Romans 8:29, which says, "…according to his purpose". So what it means by good is it's going to fulfill his purpose, not my preference. What it means is I can't categorize. That's God's job. It is God's job to know what's best for me. It is God's job to know what needs to happen. It is God's job to know what experiences I need to get. So God said, "Stop limiting it by labels". Labels can apply to a group of people. Look at what the Lord said. When he said, "Arise, Peter. Kill and eat," Peter said, "Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth". Now watch what God said in verse 9: "Those are your categories, not mine". "The voice spoke from heaven a second time, saying, 'Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.'"
Stop limiting God with your labels. Most people who live in Charlotte weren't born in Charlotte. So you come here, and it's like, "I don't really like Southerners". Well, you're stuck with us for this season. Do not overgeneralize the people you have to live with. The same thing can be said of any group of people…northern or southern or anything we want to mention. This is the problem: we are all so prejudiced we stopped realizing it a long time ago. You're like, "I'm not prejudiced". Pre-judge. You do it all the time. I do it all the time. We think we know what is and what isn't going to be good all the time. We even think we know who is holy and who is not holy by what they wear. Even with people, we think we know who is important and who is not. You have no idea. Then we size up opportunities by how public they are to see how significant they are, but Peter was in Joppa doing something that was off the radar when God led him to Cornelius' house to take the gospel to the Gentiles. I just wanted to say: Don't limit your life by labels. Don't limit what God can do through you through labels.
Somebody says, "Are you single"? Say, "Well, first of all, I'm saved, sanctified, and then I'm single. But don't put that as my first label. There's a whole lot more to me than what's going on on one finger on my left hand, so please do not limit me". "Preach, Pastor Steven Furtick". I am. One guy said to me, "Your preaching has gotten more Pentecostal these days". All he meant was I yell more, and the only reason I yell more now than I used to is because when the church was small I needed people and I didn't want to scare them off. Now we have enough. If we scare a few off, a few more will come. I can holler like I want to! I can preach like I feel it! Not theologically…stylistically. So, don't be limited by labels. I'm white, but I'm not only white. I'm black, but I'm not only black. Please do not pre-judge me based on something I had no control over. I want you to get to know my character. I want you to get to see the God in me rather than labeling me. Ask Lil Nas X. Ask him about labels. Is it country? Is it rap? I'll tell you what it is. It's a billion streams. It's a Grammy, and it's multimillion dollars. You can take me right out of this box and drive me to the bank.
God wants to do something bigger, but you will limit yourself with a label, and you limit others with labels…who you can and can't receive from, who God can and can't use in your life, what God can and can't use in your life. "Oh, well, they're insulting me". Are they or is God using them to instruct you? "I don't like it. It doesn't feel good". So don't limit yourself with labels, and secondly, don't be loyal to a lie. I don't have time to show you, but the passage in Acts ends with Peter and the council there, the deacon board that called him in… That's a Baptist flashback I was having right there. When they called him in, by the end of it… I said this on Sunday last week: it started with protest and ended in praise. When they brought him in they were protesting, like we always do when God is doing something new in our lives. "I don't like it. I don't like it". Now, everybody who hears new will hear something different when I preach. People will quit their jobs over this message. People will quit their marriage over this message. Some will quit their job and their marriage over this message, and they're missing the point. What I mean is make room for the new in you, so you don't have to find out after you move to five different cities, running from yourself, that sometimes the environment is not the issue.
What we will do a lot of times is we will hold on so tightly to a lie because it's familiar that we will miss what God is bringing to us by faith because we don't like how it feels. Don't be loyal to a lie. My third one is: don't be late. One thing the Spirit told Peter that I wanted to say to you through the power of the Holy Spirit today… Acts 11:12 says, "The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them". Don't be late. If you hold on to what's old…the way you thought and what you wanted and how it was…you might miss today's miracle trying to hold on to yesterday's blessing. What am I holding that's old, that's keeping me from receiving what's new, what's now? I don't mean that we don't value tradition and experience and continuity. That's not my message. The Scripture said in Leviticus 26:10, "You will still be eating last year's harvest…" That's the old. "…when you will have to move it out to make room for the new".
It's not that the old was bad; it's just that the new is here…a new covenant, a new day, a new season. Some of you are really destabilized right now in life. We all go through these seasons of instability that really test our faith. God gives us this tension in these moments to see what we will do in Joppa: run from God or run toward God. If that's where you are today in Joppa (I mean in a psychological sense, obviously, or a spiritual sense, an emotional sense, not a geographical sense), trying to figure out, "God, what are you doing in my life? I've never seen this before. I've never felt this before. I've never been in my 40s before". I wonder what you will do in Joppa. The thing about God's blessing is it rarely checks your schedule to see if this would be a convenient time. In fact, Leviticus said as they were giving all of the instructions for worship and the covenant to set up the community and how to deal with diseases and poverty and how to deal with indebtedness and how to be a people, and as they were adjusting and acclimating to be out of Egyptian slavery and coming into a new place…
Before God made them the promise, he said, "You need to know you're still going to be eating last year's harvest when you have to move it out to make room for the new". This is how it works. You're not even used to it yet, and here comes something new. You have to learn to multitask your miracles. You have to learn to move between things and to trust God and keep giving, keep going. You keep trusting and keep believing by faith or else you're going to find yourself missing today's opportunity because you are too attached to yesterday's blessing. I wonder what new mindset God is creating in me in this season. I want to know. I wonder what barriers he's going to break through your life. I want to know.
He said, "You will still be eating last year's harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new". That's what repentance is. It's a change of mind. It makes room for the new. A new way of thinking. You're doing it the old way. You keep manipulating, keep forcing, keep getting angry. That's the old way. That's not how you do it anymore. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come". There's a new way to do this, a new way to live, a new way to love, a new way to serve, a way that seems upside down but is actually right side up. God said, "If you will make room for the new, you will still be eating last year's harvest when you will have to move it out".
Father, I thank you for your Word today, the power of it, the precision of it. You are so on time. I trust you. I trust you that it will not return void. What you spoke in this place today is not just about Peter. This is not a history lesson or an agricultural lesson. This is a word from heaven for someone's life: make room for the new. I pray for your people, Lord, whatever they're holding on to that is old that needs to be moved out to make room for the new. Maybe all their life they thought they had to earn acceptance, so they're stuck in performance, and they think you're like that too. I pray that, today, grace would clear the way to make room for the new. I thank you today that strongholds in our minds are being broken by the power of the Spirit of God. We thought we had to run to something else to get our needs met. That's the old way of thinking. That's the old way of living. That's the old way of coping, but we came into your presence today to make room for the new. We thank you that you're doing something in our lives right now. We'll never truly know the power of this moment until it's over. We never fully understand the reason for this season until we're in the next one, but I ask that you would grant unto us the gift of faith so we can trust you for what's next.