Steven Furtick - But Now Be Strong
How are you doing, Chris? Have you recovered from tour? Fully. I was recovered last Sunday. I felt good last Sunday. Yeah, last Sunday was crazy. Were you here? God is so faithful. I wanted to mention really quickly how good of a timing this is for you to be in church. Every week, some people are here for the first time or back for the first time. This is a good one. This weekend, we're starting to get ready for our year-end offering. Why is that exciting? Because it builds our faith. It shows our love for God. We're inviting everybody all over the world who's a part of this ministry to be a part of this year-end offering.
Now, the official date of the offering is December 12. We do it every year. It's an opportunity for those who have been blessed by this ministry, whose lives God has used this ministry to change, to be a blessing. Thousands will begin the process of tithing and putting God first in the area of your finances with that first 10 percent that belongs to him anyway. The whole 100 is his. You know that, right? For all of you who already trust the Lord in that way, thank you for making the ministry possible. For those of you who are praying about it, we always do an "above and beyond" offering every year. Holly and I have been doing that every year for over 15 years now. It's a privilege to do it. It's an honor to do it.
When I look around and see what God has done and what he's building, nobody has to beg me to give. I invest in this ministry because I believe in this ministry. I believe God's promise. How about you? Do you take God at his word? Well, this is an excellent time. They'll share all of the details about how to do it. I just wanted to mention it. I always pick a word. It has been getting later and later. I used to pick a word we could focus on, and I would pick it in the summer, and then they would make all of these graphics and videos around that word. Lately, I've been picking it so late I don't even tell Holly what it is until I tell the whole church.
Last week, I was preaching the same passage I'm going to preach here today. I'm going to continue what God started last week. God dropped something amazing last week. There was a Scripture in Haggai 2:9 that said, "The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house". We'll unpack it a little week by week. (I'm not going to preach about giving today, so if you're "exit strategy" texting your church partner, or something like that, you don't need to do that.) Our one word we're going to come around is a simple word: better. Doesn't that feel good? To believe that whatever you've seen before… Tell somebody, "You haven't seen anything yet". Oh! Okay. Say it in the King James. "You ain't seen nothin' yet". God is always bringing us into something better. So, for our year-end offering I wanted to mention that. I also want to celebrate the eleventh-year anniversary of Elevation Blakeney. Let's give God praise for Elevation Blakeney. Oh yeah!
That's where I preached live for about five years before we moved over here to Ballantyne. I might go back if y'all ever stop acting right. I love it over there. A lot of great stories in that place…not the building, but the people. I saw God do amazing things there. Father, I thank you for your presence today. Your presence is real. It's not abstract. We thank you that your presence is more than just energy, or your presence is more than just feelings. Your presence is the bedrock I can come back to every time and just know you are with me in every moment. I thank you for the promise I have concerning your presence, that in your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand pleasure forevermore. Lord, we want to enjoy your presence today. We're taking a moment to put everything out of our minds that's causing confusion, everything that has us tied up in knots, everything that has us popping Alka-Seltzer with heartburn because we're worried about it, everything that has us angry, frustrated, offended.
We're putting all that… That doesn't get to play on the movie screen right now, Lord, but we want to see your goodness, your love, your glory. We want to see it revealed. We want to see Jesus. We want to see the one who is and was and is to come. We want to see him as he really is. Reveal Jesus to us today through your Word. It's in his name we pray, amen. We're going back to Haggai, chapter 2. It's like, my mom cooked so much food… You're like, "Mom, what were you thinking? That the whole football team was coming over here"? She overprepares. I felt a little bit like that last week, honestly, when I looked back over my outline. I had four points, and we got to one. So, I just put it in the fridge, and I figured, "All right. We'll get this out this week," and God was speaking to me in such a unique way. I'm excited about it.
Let me read you this Scripture, see if this will put a spark plug in your spirit. "In the second year of King Darius, on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai…" We have to talk about that for a minute. God is going to give you a word for your weakness. The more you work the word he gives you, the more strength you will discover that was there all along. "The word of the Lord came through Haggai". I love how God speaks through people in seasons when we need it. Don't you? This is what the Lord said to Haggai: "Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them…" This is crazy. God speaks. How many need God to speak to you today? Put a hand in the chat. Put your hand in the air. "I need God to speak to me". Here's what's crazy: God doesn't speak with an answer; he speaks with a question. Sometimes you will ask God for an answer, and he will answer with a question.
One day, I'm going to preach a sermon called "The Blessing of a Better Question". A better question would be… Instead of, "God, why did I have to go through all that"? it would be, "God, what do you want to do now through the things I went through, and why is the Devil so intimidated of me that he brought all that against me"? "What is it in me"? That's a better question. A bad question would be like, "God, why did they reject me"? Well, you can never know that. Maybe they rejected you because they are stupid. Maybe they didn't see the value of you. A better question is, "God, what were you using rejection to protect me from"? That's a better question. We rejection-proof our spirits by asking a couple questions. "God, are you redirecting me through this rejection, telling me that this is not the one? God, are you protecting me from something I can't see"? He said, "Ask [the people], 'Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong…'"
That's my title for this message today: But Now Be Strong. Last night you were a little weak, but now be strong. Three years ago, you just gave in to the temptation, but now you're resisting the Devil a little bit more. "'But now be strong, Zerubbabel,' declares the Lord. 'Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak…'" Be strong, Brit. Be strong, Mike. Be strong, Holly. Be strong, Elijah. "'Be strong, all you people of the land,' declares the Lord, 'and work. For I am with you,' declares the Lord Almighty. 'This is what I covenanted with you…'" "I didn't say nobody would be against you. I just said I would be with you". God never promised the absence of problems. He promised his presence right in the thick of it. He said, "'I was with you in Egypt, and I'm with you to this day,' declares the Lord". "'And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.' This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the Lord Almighty. 'The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the Lord Almighty. 'The glory of this present house will be greater [better] than the glory of the former house…'"
Now, it's not going to have as much gold as the old house, because Solomon's temple had a lot of gold, but it's going to have more glory. Oh, Jesus. "'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the Lord Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the Lord Almighty". There's a book called Making Peace with Your Past. You may have read it. There's a course or program that goes along with the book, and millions of people have probably benefited from it. I don't know. I never did the course, but I always remember the title Making Peace with Your Past. It's about dealing with the trauma that happens to you so that your trauma doesn't become your template, so that what you went through doesn't become the ceiling of what you think can be possible in your life. Like we discussed last week a little bit, not only are they building a temple, but they are reinventing their template. They're getting a new blueprint for how God is going to bless them now. And they need one, because they've been in Babylon for over 50 years. While they were in Babylon as exiles, almost an entire generation died that had seen the former temple.
So, now when we get to Haggai, chapter 2, the prophet is encouraging the people, because they have become two things that you have become: distracted and discouraged. Distracted in that they have lost their sense of priorities. They have gotten comfortably settled. Now they've come back to their homeland, but in the process of building the Lord's temple where God's presence would dwell at that time, they got distracted by building their own houses. It never happens to you. It happens to me sometimes. Sometimes I go to read my Bible. Then I see a text. The text makes me think of something else I need to text. Before I know it, I'm on Wikipedia searching about giraffes. "How did I get here"? But it does put a question in your mind. Are you distracted, and are you discouraged? Now, I love Haggai's method, because as I mentioned, he asks a question. "Who of you is left"?
That's what we talked about last week: the remnant. It means whatever is left over. Now get this picture. They're looking at a city that is still, for the largest part, in ruin. When the Babylonians came to take the people out, they actually destroyed everything they left behind. At this point, they haven't seen Nehemiah yet. You've heard of him. Right? He rebuilt the walls of the city, which was the protection of the city, but he did that later. The walls are still down. The infrastructure of the city was completely shut down, or at the very least, it was about as organized as the DMV. It was about like the airport security right about now. It's a mess. But in the middle of all that mess, God sends a messenger to ask a question: "Who of you is left"? You have to learn how to focus on what is left, not what is lost. Sometimes the distraction is you thinking about something you had in the past that you don't have right now. Sometimes you are missing things God is bringing because you are missing people God removed. I'm not saying everybody who leaves your life is because God took them out because they couldn't handle you on the next level.
That's not my message. But there was a word in there where he said, "Speak to the remnant". There are only 60,000 Jews who came back. Talk to those. Speak to the ones who are still here. Work with the strength you still have. Muster the energy that is left in your body. Take the opportunity you have seriously. That's the first R we mentioned, but the second one… I think it's really important, because his second rhetorical question… Verse 3: "Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory"? Then the second question is also a rhetorical question: "How does it look to you now"? What a question. This is not just rhetorical; this is historical. There are a few of these returning exiles who saw Solomon's temple firsthand, and they remember what they think it was like. By the way, the future and the past have one thing in common: they're both fiction. The future you imagine for you… You know, 30 pounds lighter or 30 million richer or whatever it is. You know what I'm saying.
That future is no more imaginary than the story you tell yourself about how the past was. The future is filtered through your ignorance. You don't know what's going to happen at 1:30 today. You didn't even know Cam was coming back, did you? Nobody told you that. Nobody called you. Nobody approved that with you. You didn't see that coming, and you really think you can predict what it's going to be… I love people. "You need to make a 10-year plan". Honey, I need a 10-minute plan. It's 2021. I need a 10-second plan. I need a way right now in this moment not to freak out. Now! Sometimes you get so far out there in the future and see yourself married or see yourself divorced or see yourself whatever condition you are praying about that's opposite of the condition you prayed yourself into right now… That's a fantasy, but so is what we tell ourselves about our past. "Nobody ever really believed in me".
I wish I could ask all of your middle school teachers how much they had to put up with out of you just not to kick you out of school, because the truth is you should have been expelled. The fact that they believed in you is the fact that they graduated you and gave you a C just to get you out of their class. I'm having fun with it, but it's really kind of a deep thing to consider, that sometimes what holds you hostage is a story you have told yourself that never really happened, like you memorized it in your heart. Then with time you look back and say, "Oh, well, maybe actually I was part of the reason to blame for that. Huh. Because now I've seen the same exact pattern play out in eight straight relationships. Maybe it wasn't eight dysfunctional devils I was dating. Maybe the smell is coming from inside the car. I think it's something under the floor mats. I don't think it's…"
So, the people who were there to see it firsthand… You have to imagine. This is an amazing moment. Back from Babylon. "The future is in front of us. Maybe we can be a nation again. Maybe the glory of God will visit us again". At the moment of great possibility comes the memory of the past, the past as it never really was, the past as you imagine it was, the past as you remember it was. I keep a list of stuff I did for my kids. When they go to therapy one day as adults, I'm going to make sure their therapist gets that list before they start. "Here's what they're not telling you. Here are all of the vacations they don't remember. Here are all of the times I was nice to them and didn't take their phone. Here's the time I could have thrown them out a window, but I didn't, because I'm a good, good father, and I have a list to prove it". It has been traumatic. No, it has really been traumatic for these people. This is not like the economy was shut down for months. Their nation was completely destroyed. No, no, no. I don't mean the economy was destroyed and the stock market was fluctuating. I mean they had to develop a completely new template in Babylon.
So, now you have two things happening simultaneously, and you always do. You have the new generation who didn't see Solomon's temple. You have the older generation (specifically, the priests, the Levites, and the leaders) who saw the old one. Ezra tells us what happened that made Haggai's encouragement necessary. Go to Ezra, chapter 3. Y'all aren't flipping your Bibles. Do you have it on your phone? See, this is one of those things where, as a preacher, I want to fuss. "I remember when people used to bring their Bibles to church". But you know what? I don't think that's necessarily better than having it right there on your phone, because if it's right there on my phone, I can have it anytime the Devil hits me. I can just look at it. Nobody even knows I'm reading my Bible. I'm acting like I'm paying attention to this meeting. "Let me check my notes real quick". But I'm really over here in Obadiah.
Notice the temptation. "Oh, it was better when people used to bring their Bibles to church. Oh, it was better before". They didn't read them during the week back then. Watch this. Ezra, chapter 3. "When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: 'He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.'" So, they were singing, "I am good; you are loved". "And all the people…" Y'all get ready to act out the text. "…gave a great shout…" That's a medium shout. It wasn't a bad shout, but it wasn't a great shout. "All the people gave a great shout…"
I want to see which campus can shout the loudest. Make a video of your campus and send it to me real quick. "All the people gave a great shout…" Not a baby shout. No, no, no! It's a great shout! A great shout. "Look at the foundation! This is amazing! We're going to have a temple again. We're going to have a temple again. We're going to have a temple again. Oh, I heard about the temple. I always wished I could have a temple. My grandad would tell me about the temple. He'd tell me about the incense. He'd tell me about the bowls. He'd tell me about the prayers. He'd tell me about the Holy of Holies, tell me about the sacrifice, tell me about the atonement, tell me about the mercy, tell me about the presence, tell me about the glory, tell me about the inner sanctuary. We're going to have a temple. We're going to have a temple. We're getting a temple. We're getting a temple". So, they start blowing trumpets. They start playing 808s. They start having a party and praising God over the progress.
You have to learn to praise God over progress, not just product. That's what gives you momentum. You have to praise God for 10 yards, not just touchdowns. You have to praise God for every trimester. You have to praise God. You have to do it or you'll get distracted and discouraged like the Levites, because while one generation is praising God… "Oh, we're going to have a temple. Y'all, it's going to be amazing. I can't wait to get in this temple and praise God. Oh, this is going to be incredible". And here come the people who should be leading the praise party, and while the young people are blowing trumpets… It says (verse 12), "But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others…" But here's the problem. Verse 13: "No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping…" It all just started sounding like noise.
Has it been noisy in your heart lately? You can't tell the difference of "Whose voice is this? Is this God or is this the Devil or is it just my Twitter feed? Is this God, is this the Devil, or is it just me? Is this faith or is this foolishness"? How could a group of people from the same nation be standing at the same foundation, one of them pulling out trumpets and one of them in tears? Trumpets and tears, both at the same time. Trumpets and tears. She's shouting, "Come on now" and he's sleeping, in the same sermon. Trumpets and tears. Celebration; devastation. Expectation; disappointment. Looking at the same thing. One voice is saying, "This is amazing". One voice is saying, "It isn't like the old one. The old one was better. Solomon's temple was so good. There was so much gold in Solomon's temple. Solomon's temple was… This isn't going to be like it was. I used to have so much more".
At some point, the disappointment starts drowning out the faith. Has that been happening in your temple? In your temple where there's something to celebrate… Oh, by the way, the second R I want to talk about (because I did remnant last week, and apparently, I'm only going to do one this week) is reference. There is a point of reference you could come to today in your temple. Now, remember, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. So, when we talk about temples and Solomon's temple… This temple, by the way, is eventually going to be between two and three times bigger than the one they're weeping over, but right now it seems like nothing. You have to be strong in seasons where it seems like nothing or it will always be what it is right now. I don't know who needs this medicine, but wishing won't get the temple built. Wanting won't get the temple built. Waiting won't get the temple built.
"Well, the Bible says, 'Wait on the Lord.'" I know. I wrote a song about it. I believe that Bible verse too. But when waiting on what God is going to do or wishing for what God used to do replaces working with what God gave you right now… I mean, right now be strong. Right now man up. Right now square up with your enemies and say, "It's not going to be what it was. It's going to be better"! So, the builders lay the foundation, and there are trumpets, and the builders lay the foundation, and there are tears. It's not two different foundations. It's how you see it. Three months ago, he was praising God because he could breathe, because he had COVID so badly he wondered, "Am I ever going to breathe normally again"? It made him almost cry with joy when he would breathe. I'm talking about my buddy Chunks who started the church with me. But let a little time go by… He's Olympic level breathing again. Just auto breath, mister auto breath.
When you have been somewhere so low, you appreciate moments of joy. Look. How am I saying this? Because I've been depressed. I'm not glad I was depressed. I'm not glad if you're going through depression. But one thing it did for me is it made me know how valuable joy is. It made me know how valuable happy is. That's the thing about the bottom. That's what shows you where to build from. The problem is when you stop at the bottom and go, "Oh, well, this is the worst thing that ever happened to me" or "This is what I never saw coming," and then you stop building. Do you know that's what the people did for 16 years after Ezra, chapter 3? The first Scripture I read you was actually the second Scripture. The second Scripture I read you was the first Scripture chronologically. What happened was they started building. The people under 25… They would have had to have been really old to see Solomon's temple. They would have had to have been, like, 70 and stuff. I'm not saying that's really old, but that's really old.
That's a lot of experience. Their experience became the enemy of their expectation. People will tell you, "Oh, the benefits of experience". There are some benefits to inexperience. Why do you think Jesus didn't pick Bible scholars to be his disciples? There is a benefit of ignorance. There's a benefit to somebody who's just coming to the church for the first time today that you won't have if you've been here… Now, there are benefits of being here a long time. I really appreciate the people who have been here a long time. That's who I really celebrate. I used to go to church, and they'd be like, "Let's welcome all of the first-time guests". I'm like, "Why are you clapping for them? They didn't do anything yet. They're the first-time guests. Let's hear it for the 14-year veterans. Let's hear it for everybody who stuck with it". So, I get that. But there is sometimes a benefit of not knowing "This temple is not really that great compared to the last one". When they came over to the worship night in Jacksonville, I said, "I'm sorry, y'all. This was the lowest night we had," because it was the eighth night of the tour. They said, "The lowest night? It was awesome".
They hadn't been to the other ones. There is a benefit when you haven't been there yet. They never had a temple, so they got the trumpets out, while those who had the old template were in tears. Wow. One of the nights on tour, I had a real encounter with God. It was one of those where… Sometimes God will comfort you. Sometimes he will correct you. Sometimes he will comfort you, correct you, and then comfort you again, like a little rebuke sandwich. Have you ever had the Lord do that? He's very tactful. So, I'm out there, and the particular night, all I could see… Because we had just done this Elevation Nights worship thing. I've still been processing it, because I don't know how to talk to you about it, because there was so much God showed me about our ministry and our future. There were times over the past two years where I wondered, "Have we seen our best days"? Because, you know, not everybody is going to come back, so you're really scared. But I kept going in these arenas night after night, and it was powerful, because thousands of people would be singing the songs we sing here, just singing them out, every single song like it was their favorite. Just amazing.
And every song they were singing was like a scene in my life from when I remember either when we wrote it or when our church sang it or a season it got us through. It was crazy, because there's a soundtrack, like a song like "Do It Again," "I've seen you move the mountains…" They're watching one movie of how their nephew had cancer and God healed him, and I'm watching another movie how when they came for me so hard I was so discouraged I was like, "Well, maybe I just give up the church," just being kind of a wimp about the whole thing, but I'm remembering how God strengthened and sustained me. It brings us all to the same soundtrack, but so many different movies. Same foundation, totally different response. You know, I'm listening to a song like "Rattle"! remembering when I was writing the lyrics on the window of the room in my house where I work out. I would send a new lyric over to Chris. He had a mic set up in his living room because we couldn't be together because of the thing. So, he would record the new line and send it to me, and we did that about 30 times.
So, when we're rocking to "Rattle"! I'm not just partying; I'm praising God, because it went from the window to the worship service. God said, "I will open up the window…" I'm up there, "Live! Live"! and they're screaming it back, but we're all screaming "Live" for a different reason. Something we didn't think we would survive, but look at you right now. Look at you right now! Look at you be strong! It's your frame of reference. This is when I had this heart-to-heart with God…not out loud, just in my heart. The night I told you about where we didn't sell as many tickets… There were still more people in the room that night than the town I grew up in. Frame of reference. I'm looking up there, and I'm like, "Look at all of those empty rows up there". The Lord said this. He may as well have said it in Hebrew and Greek and Russian, because I'm telling you, it was just like a sentence. He said, "For almost a year you preached in an empty room. Now you want to complain about empty rows"? That's the Devil.
I went from being like, "All I need is Jesus and a camera; I'll reach them for the gospel," but watch how entitled how quickly. Watch how the Devil can shift your frame of reference to where you used to feel like, "Oh my god! If we could ever just get back together again," but then we're back together again, and I'm going, "Oh, there are some empty seats up there. Maybe we didn't do too good". It's almost like the Lord said, "Stop crying. Dry your tears and blow your trumpet". Because if you really take a good panoramic look at the situation, you don't even deserve the stuff God gave you on the foundation. I mean, really, really, really. The mercy I'm walking in, the favor I'm walking in, the grace I've received, the breath I breathe in, the day that I'm standing in, the strength to stand here… That came from God!
He said, "The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, and I want you to get grateful about what I gave you again. I want you to dance on the foundation. I want you to dance on a dirt floor. I want you to dance in an unemployment. I want you to dance in a season of heartbreak". Blow your trumpet! Lift your voice and give your God a great shout! How great is your God? How great is your praise? I'm going to give 50 people a little space to dry your tears and blow your trumpet. "Look at what God did for me"! Y'all, I didn't know if we'd ever be back in a building to shout again. I have to blow this trumpet! I appreciate! I've had the Enemy try to get me so discouraged that I would just give him back everything God gave me. I've had seasons where I was like, "All right, God. These kids are yours". I'm so glad. But now… Do you ever get an attitude and you don't even know where it came from? It's kind of like faith, and it's kind of like anger, and you don't know which one it is.
Someone just pushed you a little bit too far. This guy one time in Nashville was talking down to me right before we started church. He said, "Now listen. You're going to need to give me all your publishing," and this and that and the other. "You're not getting any of it, but you ought to thank me for it, because you're a nobody". He was right in the sense of my illustrious, nonexistent career. I got on that verse. I couldn't get out. "Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong". That's what Haggai said. I want to be Haggai for you today. It seems like nothing (this foundation), but now… I don't even know where it came from, but I told the guy on the phone over there at Sycamore Commons, getting my Qdoba bowl… I'd just moved to Charlotte. Nobody in the church. Hadn't even gone to Sunday morning. I interrupted him. I said, "Hey, I appreciate what you're saying. I'm out here starting a church. God called me to start it. I know it's nothing right now, but one day…" I don't even know, because God knows I have my doubts, but in this moment, something took me over. It was like I heard my voice, but I wasn't making it talk. I'm telling the guy like I had good sense, "One day, this church that God is building…"
Now, the key about it was I didn't argue with him about who I was, because I know what John says, that without him I can do nothing. But I'm not without him. I'm just an instrument. Without the breath, the trumpet sits there looking stupid, but if God breathes in that trumpet, if God breathes on that business, if God breathes on that marriage, if God breathes on that idea, if God breathes on a ministry, watch it go! So, I said, "One day it's going to be a church, and we're going to write songs and sing them all over the world". I didn't scream at him like that, but I said that. That's not the challenge, to shout about it now. The challenge is to shout about nothing. Can I talk to you like I talk to my kids? Your comparisons are killing you. I said it last week, I'm going to say it this week, and if you come back, I'll say it again the next week too. You keep comparing your foundation with other people's finishes, so you are distracted, and you are discouraged, but if you change your frame of reference…I mean, really, really change your frame of reference…
Remember how Dad used to talk about heads of hair? He was a barber. We'd be going out to Ryan's… Did y'all ever go to nice restaurants? Or where they had the yeast rolls…Quincy's. When we would be eating, he would be doing calculation, how many heads of hair he'd have to cut to pay for the meal. Heads of hair. Then, today, God will do a little something for you. God will bless you a little bit and all of that. I guess, compared to some people, I don't have a lot, but compared to some people, I have so much, yet either one is a death trap. When I think about my dad who had to drop out of school when he was still in middle school to help with the family expenses, and I look at what God did through me (or for me, really; it wasn't even me) and the foundation he laid… I can get so grateful so quickly, and stuff stops being such a big deal when I reframe… That's the word: reframe. It's your frame of reference that makes you praise God. It's your frame of reference that makes you have a pity party. Same foundation, different frame.
Honestly, some people probably, if they had all of the things God gave me, would do much better with it. You know what I'm saying? Some people who you look at and are jealous of… The stuff they are hiding from you, the expense of what you envy, the people you think you want to trade lives with… Some of them would give anything to have what you take for granted. Graham asked me the other day, "Would you trade [this and that] to be Kanye"? I don't want to be Kanye. I said, "So, I get his creative brilliance and all that, but I don't get to be your dad? No. Bad trade". Deal is off, Devil. I'm going to be me. I'm going to dance over this foundation that God gave me, and I'm going to work on it, and I'm going to get better at it. I'm going to read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Proverbs and Philippians, and I'm going to do it, but I'm not going to wish I was you, because wishing won't work. Neither will worrying.
You've been so disappointed you've become distracted, discouraged, and comparing the empty rows in the arena… What in the world has the Devil gotten you focused on that is so bad you can't just simply look around for a moment? So, I'm working on it. It's hard for me. For me, I'm more of a tears than a trumpet person. I'm more of a "What's wrong" than "What's right" person. Glass half empty. Didn't I tell you last week? I'm not a glass half empty or glass half full; I'm a "Who spilled the water so I can…"? But I'm working on it. I'm working on what God gave me. Isn't it crazy? Their enemies opposed the rebuilding to the temple, but they couldn't stop them, yet what their enemies couldn't do, they could do to themselves. For 16 years the foundation sat there until the word of the Lord came through Haggai and said, "What God is going to do next will be better than what he did before". Better will not be found in going backward.
Second Corinthians 3:17-18 says, "Now…" There's that word again: now. So, they wrote the book Making Peace with Your Past. I wonder, does somebody need to write a book called "Making Peace with Your Present," with how it really is? The idolatry of tomorrow and the lie of yesterday. "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord [was]…" Wrong answer, Furtick. "…where the Spirit of the Lord [will be]…" Pay attention, class. "…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom". But now be strong. "And we all, who with unveiled faces…" That's the old veil they had to wear to look at the glory. Moses would come down wearing a veil so they couldn't see his face, but they don't need that anymore.
Now we contemplate not the old glory, not the former glory…the Lord's glory. We are being transformed into his image. The hard part is God gives you an image of himself. That's who you're becoming. But the Enemy gives you a different image: worst-case scenarios, past mistakes, other people's lives. The Bible says, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom". It is the freedom to become the version of me that God sees. It is the freedom to build the life with the resources he gave me that he called me to build. We are being transformed into his image. So, when I say our word as we end the year is better, I'm not saying that because you're going to get a better spouse or a better house. I'm saying that he is transforming you, the better image, with ever-increasing glory. And watch where it comes from. It comes from the Lord. It comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. The trumpet… Did you get a trumpet? I don't know, LJ. That doesn't sound too much like a trumpet yet. Oh, you know what? We don't need it. They have one.
If you believe the word that came through Haggai, I want you to give God 60 seconds of glory! But now be strong! Yesterday is over, but now be strong. Lift your hands. Come on, open it up! Riverwalk, open; eFam, open. Open, open, open! Come on, open your mouth! But now be strong. Not one day in the future when you get stable, but now be strong. Does it not look like nothing? But now be strong. The Spirit of the Lord is here. But now be strong. "I will grant peace in this place". When Joshua got ready to fight the battle, he was looking at walls. God told him something very strange. He said, "Before the walls fall, blow a trumpet". That's the exact opposite of logic, but when you have faith, when you have Holy Ghost, ever-increasing glory, "The Spirit of the Lord is here" faith… When you have that Haggai word of the Lord, "The glory is coming…" When you have that kind of faith, you announce to the Enemy, "I am strong in the Lord and in the power of his might," and get back to work. For 16 years you're going to stand there and cry over something that's never coming back. Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.
We give you glory, Lord. Some people will look at this sermon, and they'll laugh at it. "Oh, they look so stupid shouting like that". Well, God, I'd rather look stupid shouting than be depressed crying. So I give you my shout, my hallelujah. I give you glory! We're not shouting over the finished product; we're shouting over the foundation. The deeper you dig, the higher you build, God, so thank you for everything you've dug out. Thank you for everything you've cleared away. Thank you even for the tears, because the tears taught us how to praise you. I pray for every man and woman, boy and girl who heard this word today. Not just that the word would come through the microphone, but that it would get into their temple. And the glory of this present house…the one I'm looking at right now, the job you gave me right now, the place you put me right now, the challenge you gave me right now, the season you gave me right now…would be greater, above anything I could ask, beyond anything I could imagine. We receive this word right now. In Jesus' name, amen.