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2021 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - The Power Of A Better Question

Steven Furtick - The Power Of A Better Question

Steven Furtick - The Power Of A Better Question

Abba, we love you today, and we worship and adore you. We're not angels, but we want to gather around your throne like they do and give you praise, and we want to sing what they sing. We want to say, "Worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb to open the scroll". We thank you, Lord, that all of history is in your hands. We thank you that everything in the past that has happened is now being brought into perfect alignment with the future you have prophesied over us in this moment. We say that because our confidence is in your unchanging nature and your steadfast character. We want to be more like you are, God. We want to be rooted and grounded in what lasts. So, today, Lord, I thank you for a sustaining blessing over these men and women, a sustaining blessing over these boys and girls. We thank you that you are a creator and a keeper. Lord, right now, I thank you that I'm in the palm of your hand. Right now, I thank you that your grip is stronger than my resistance. God, I thank you that you're stronger at holding me than I am at letting go.

I thank you that you've got me right where you want me. I'm not behind. I'm not off schedule. I'm right where I need to be. I'm who I need to be. You didn't want to make me any different than you made me. There wasn't a missing worker on the assembly line on the day you created me. Before I was born you knew me. You set me apart in my mother's womb. Everything I'm missing is just an opportunity for a miracle. Every space in me is just somewhere for you to show off in my life. In my weakness you are strong. You are a mighty God, a wonderful counselor, an everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. We call on your great name, Jesus. Your name is above every other name. Who you are is what we trust in, and we place our hope in you. In Jesus' name… Everybody who believes that name is the name that matters, shout "Amen"!

Well, we were singing the names of God, but let me just take a minute… What's your name? Tell three people around you, "Hi, my name is… What's your name"? Just get to know them. All right. In the chat, who are you? Where are you? Let me open this YouTube link. Let me know in the chat who you are. Somebody shout your name right here at me real quick. Shout your legal name. I don't know you enough to have a nickname relationship yet. From all over the world… It would amaze you. I don't want you to do it, because it would be distracting, but if you saw all of the people in the chat who are joining us for church today… It really is true. I didn't know God was literal when he said, "I'm going to stretch your boundaries," but he did that. It's even beyond what we could have thought.

We built buildings all of these many years for the church, and the Lord was like, "That's great. The buildings are great. Build them". But what God is doing here now, in the year 2021, is so far beyond a building. What I love about it is it's not only people who watch online, but they worship, they give, they build. It's our extended family. Let's welcome our eFam all around the world. I learned that the Lord's ways are higher than mine. Have you learned that yet? The sooner you learn that, you're going to waste less money, less time, less prayers asking God for stuff that, if he gave it to you, you'd want to return back to sender. I'm just trying to save you some time. God's ways are better… better, better, better.

All right. We have Emma, Chris, Jean, Steven… What an anointed name that is. With a V. He spelled it right: Steven. God bless your mother, and blessed be the fruit of your mother's womb. Samantha from Malaysia. Do you see what I'm saying? From Malaysia! I never thought I would put a campus in Malaysia, but God did that. God is going to do so much more through your life than you know to ask him for right now, so be encouraged. We're getting ready… We're preparing our year-end offering. The year-end offering is called Better this year. That's the word God spoke to me. I'm like, "Lord, I can't tell them it's going to get better". Nuh-uh. He said, "That's not the point of it. The point is if it doesn't get better, they will". God is going to increase you, make you stronger and wiser. He's going to do that. He's doing that sometimes when you don't feel it. I noticed when I'm working out physically, the moments where I feel the weakest I'm growing the most.

I wonder, is that true in the Spirit? She said, "I hope so". So, you had a bad week? "I barely made it in. I hope you're telling the truth". It's amazing, though. You never know what somebody is going through right next to you. That's why I hate when y'all leave when I'm closing my sermon in prayer. When you slip out so you can get to lunch, it bothers me, because you don't know what that person on that row came in carrying and what God is lifting. One of our long-time volunteers… This is just one example. One of our long-time volunteers in the Raleigh-Durham area had just made it back to church last week, and afterward, one of our campus pastors said, "I've missed you, man. Where have you been"? He said, "Well, I fell out for a little while, but this week, my son took his own life. While we were worshiping, God spoke to me: 'It's going to get better.'"

Only in God's presence can you receive a truth like that. I didn't tell him that, because that's not my place to tell him that. I can't imagine what that feels like, but God can say that. And he does, every single time we get together. How many of you are better in some way, or your family is better, because of the ministry right here at Elevation? I mean, even if it was just one time God spoke to you… So, the best thing we can do is to always invest in what God is using to feed us. There's no better place to invest. On December 12… We set the date. Really, it's now through the whole end of the year, but we'll be receiving the offering. We use it for expansion and outreach and all of the great ministries. I'm looking at a couple dozen people in here who I know are tithers. They always give God the first 10 percent of what God gives them. Not the leftovers, not that congealed cranberry sauce nobody wanted to eat on Thanksgiving Day. They don't throw God the scraps, but they come to God first and say, "I trust you. You're my God," systematically.

So, thousands begin doing that during this time. Many give above and beyond. That's what Holly and I… I didn't tell her the number God gave me yet, but it's… I don't like it. It's kind of bigger than I wanted it, but I'm always glad I did it. It's a chance for you to seek God… that's the thing… for you to ask God, "God, what would you have me to give"? There are envelopes and details, but that's not my department. Today, my role is to take this Bible, and I'm going to try to knock that Devil off your shoulder that's been talking to you all week. Let's see. This is a pretty big Bible. If I swing it hard enough, maybe that Devil will leave you alone for a couple minutes.

All right. Thank you, worship team. What an awesome video about the worship ministry, huh? Everybody grateful for God's presence, give God a shout of praise. All right. Be seated. Class is in session. This is a lesson today. I've been threatening to teach this for a year. I keep playing with it, and God confirmed in several different ways that this was the word for today, so I'm very confident about that. I'm going to teach you on the subject The Power of a Better Question. I've been flirting with it for some time now, but today, because our word is better… The prophet Haggai asked a series of questions. "Who of you is left who saw the former house in its glory"? Then he asked, "How does it look to you now"? He's asking questions. Do any of you know the first question in the Bible, by the way? Anybody I can call on? Just guess. I won't make you look dumb. I promise. I'm not setting you up. I would never embarrass you. First question.

Male: "Where are you"?

Steven: That's the second question.

I thought that was the first question in the Bible too. "Adam, where are you"? When I was going on the chat and I asked, "Who are you? Where are you?" you probably put a physical location, geographical… Malaysia… or you put a name. Right? But the more specific we get with that question, "Where are you"? it just becomes endlessly deep. If I ask, "Where are you?" and you're like, "Topeka… " Cool. Now I know your address, but I don't know your attitude. Where are you if we take it deeper? The depth of the question can go as deep as you want it to go. If I ask, "Where are you… "? "Well, I'm kind of offended, because last week I was supposed to get invited to this thing, and nobody invited me. And really, I'm mad because I'm always the one doing the inviting, so I'm really in a state of bitterness that seems to get darker as I hold on to it". That could be the answer to the question, "Where are you"? also. Or you could just say, "Topeka". It's just depending how deep you see the question.

That is the first question God asked in the Bible, but it's not the first question that appears in the Bible. That's what God asked Adam. I'm glad you said that one, because that is such a powerful question. "Where are you"? Like, I can see that physically. Fourth row, Jireh shirt, looks like a good Christian. She has a Jireh shirt on her back and a Blessing hoodie in her lap. She is double-portion praising God today. "I want all of it, God". But I don't know if I can see… Adam was hiding from God. When God asks, "Where are you, Adam"? he's not asking him for information; he's asking him for location. Not for God… for Adam. That's kind of a deep question: "Where are you"? It's like, "Greenville. Nope. Grief. That's where I am". So, how deep do we go? But we ask people surface questions. You know, "What do you do for a living? Are you excited about Cam coming back"? Just surface stuff. That's fine.

I don't think you should ask people too deep of questions when you're getting to know them. It's creepy. You know what I mean? "Oh, what Enneagram number are you"? I don't want to talk to you about numbers yet. You have not earned my number yet. All right? The first question that appears in the Bible is in Genesis 3 before Adam realizes he's naked when the Serpent asks Eve… Do you remember? "Did God really say… "? The first question that appears in the Bible isn't the one God asks; it's the one Satan asks, which makes me wonder. Sometimes, is the first question that comes to our mind about something not the best question available? Sometimes the questions I ask about a situation are not the best questions. That's why the Lord led me to The Power of a Better Question.

Abbey, my 10-year-old, gets this at a deep level, apparently. I asked her this week… She said, "I haven't made my Christmas list yet". I said, "Well, you'd better get started. What do you want"? She said, "What should I want"? I'm living with Socrates in the house or something like that. I'm like, "Wow! That's deep". I don't know if she was trying to provoke me to say what my ceiling is. "Is this a $300 Christmas? How much does the tooth fairy bring? I want to get up as high as I can go". I don't even know how deep she meant it, but I thought, "Wow"! That's the first question Jesus asked. In all of the Bible, the first time we see him talk, in John 1, he doesn't give an answer. Jesus is the answer, sure, but he's also the question. He asked these two guys who were following him, "What do you want"? What a question. They said, "We want to come see where you're staying, Rabbi".

I think the rest of his ministry was dealing with that second question, the one Abbey asked. "What should I want"? Is what I want, is what I wish for, is what I think I want really what I want or will I get what I want and not want what I've got in the end? That's called a midlife crisis. If we would ask better early-life questions, we wouldn't have midlife crises. The Power of a Better Question. In a minute, I'm going to give you a Scripture from Numbers, chapter 13, but in the meantime, let me give you a few examples of what I mean before we get very deep textually. I told you the first question in the Bible came from Satan. "Did God really say… "? Then he twisted what God actually said and added to it and exaggerated it, like the Enemy always does. We'll come back to that. Then the question God asked was simple. Not "Where should you be"? but "Where are you"? God starts where you are.

When I start with the sermon, I don't start by preparing with "What do I know"? because, honestly, what you need goes far beyond what I know. I don't know how to answer the real questions you're asking. I don't know if you should marry him or whatever. I don't know if you should move out or move in. I don't know, but God does. So, I've learned to ask the question, as a preacher, not "What do I know"? A lot of times, we come to the Bible, and we think we know it so well. "Oh man, I know that story". Sometimes when I read… I can see some of you. Your eyes glaze over. You're like, "I know this story. He fed 5,000 people. Tell me something I don't know". Okay. Well, maybe God is going to show you something you don't know from something that you think you do. If I start with "What do I know?" when I read the Bible, I'm going to impose all of my influences… Instead of getting insight from God's Word, I'm going to bring to it what I already think I know. I don't know what my message is going to be about when I start to prepare it. I don't start with that. If I start with what I know, it's going to be a 30-second sermon. I'm not that smart. I'm not!

How stupid would it be for you to come out here and take all this time out of your day if the starting place is "What does Steven Furtick know"? I could put that in a tweet. We don't need a sermon for that. It's a waste of time. But I start with this: "God, what do they need"? That's a better question. God knows that in a way I don't. He might speak to me and say, "You need to tell them, 'Stop crying; it's coming.'" I'm like, "Well, God, I didn't even know to tell them that. I didn't even know there are trumpets and tears," what I preached last week. I didn't come to the text looking for what I already knew. I came looking for "God, what do we need"? Not just you, but me. What do we need? It's an amazing thing that your Father knows what you need. You start with where you are, but you don't stop there. You start with a better question.

When I first started preaching, again, my question would always be… I'd look at a message, and I'd go, "How will this preach"? In other words, "Will it be exciting, dynamic? Will people laugh at it? Will they go, 'Ooh! Wow! I have to write that down. Yeah! Come on!' Will it produce a reaction"? But now I want to know, "Will it produce repentance"? Repentance is not feeling bad. I'm not saying I want you to feel bad when you leave. "Let me just beat the crap out of them, and they'll come back next Sunday for more". That's not what I'm looking for, not how to make you feel bad. You already do a pretty good job at that without any instruction. You do not need school in how bad you already suck. This pulpit is not a "how much you suck" school.

You know, "Point number one: you suck. Point number two: you used to suck even more. Point number three: no matter how much you work, you're still going to suck. See you next Sunday". Have you been to that church before? God knows what you need. That's not going to help you. That sin consciousness is not going to bring you to repentance. That's not going to change you. You need to see Jesus when you come. You need to know that Christ in you is the hope of glory. So, it's the better question. "What should I want? Huh. I don't know. Maybe I want the wrong stuff. Maybe I'm focused on the wrong thing". Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom. Don't run around like the pagans, saying, 'What shall we eat?'" Thanksgiving sermon. "What shall we wear"? If you spent more time today figuring out what you were going to wear to church before you got here than you do asking the question "What did God speak to me?" when you leave here… Why are y'all looking at me like that wasn't the best thing that has ever been said from this pulpit?

I remember one time. I was so into my "What do I wear when I preach"? because I wanted to look good. You have to be presentable, you know. People are looking at you up here. A lot of people are looking at you. The Lord said, "I don't want you to focus more on your outfit than you do your outline". What is God speaking? If it took you an hour to figure out what to wear to get here… "That's not me. I'm in bed right now watching online". Okay. If it took you an hour to figure out what to watch on YouTube and you can't even take 10 seconds… That's what the Enemy does. He is going to snatch the seed before it ever hits the soil and goes deep enough to make a difference. And if all you hear when I'm preaching is what somebody else should do with what I preached… "Boy, I wish my husband would have come. He could have used that word". You are not God's mirror holder. Praise the Lord.

Numbers, chapter 13. I'm just trying to think about the power of a better question. I used to ask, "How will this preach"? Now I want to know, "What kind of person will this preaching produce"? If I preach something like, "Your haters are elevators… " It rhymes. It's exciting. "All of your haters… Tell all of your haters… " Look. The reason that kind of preaching gets people excited is because it absolves us from all relational responsibility. If all I do is talk about your haters… "Your haters can't stand you because you're so blessed, you're so favored". No, your haters can't stand you because you are late to work. "What kind of person is this preaching producing"? That's a better question.

If you are single and you are asking God for a man to pop the question to you… Okay. You need to ask two questions. Not only, when you meet a man, "Is he single"? Hold on. Not even "Is he saved"? That's a good question. He should be saved. He should know the Lord. But "Is he sane"? Because there are crazy Christians. Just a few. He's cute, but he's crazy. He can quote Colossians, but he's crazy. "Is he sexy"? Is he stable? Unstable is only sexy so much for so long. Numbers, chapter 13. It's a familiar passage of Scripture. The Lord told Moses, "I want you to send 12 men into the land I am giving the Israelites as their inheritance". The question isn't… Has God given it? The question is… Will you go forward?

I want to speak that over every area of your life right now that God has promised. The question isn't… Has God given it? Joy, peace… all the fruit of the Spirit… love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. That's the fruit of the Spirit. That's what grows from knowing God in the spirit of a believer. It's called the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, and it's all yours. That's not the question about the fruit. It's the question… Will you go forward into it? Now we're going to see what happens when God is bringing you into something and the Devil is pulling you back to something at the same time.

The Power of a Better Question. Let's go to verse 17. "When Moses sent them to explore Canaan… " All of the leaders of the tribes. Just remember the leaders. I won't list them all. Just the leaders of the tribes, 12 of them. "… to explore Canaan… " That's what God had promised Abraham, and now he's bringing them into it. They are right on the cusp of it. You don't know how close you are. Y'all are looking at me in shock and disbelief. Tell the person next to you so they'll believe you, "You don't know how close you are". You don't know. They're coming into Canaan, but you'll remember, they just got out of Egypt. He told them, "Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many". It's an exploration. "What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not"?

It's like, "Moses, slow down. One thing at a time. Okay. I'm making my list. Good or bad? Unwalled or fortified? Trees or no trees? Fertile or poor soil"? Then he says, "'Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.' (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)" Say it: "It's eating season". I cancel every carbohydrate you're going to eat on Thursday. It's eating season. I hope you brought your elastic pants to church at Elevation Church, because it's eating season. I'm going to need a little room to grow, because it's eating season. I've been in starving season long enough. I've been in scavenger scrap season long enough. I've been in leftover living long enough. Now I'm coming to where the grapes are growing. It's time to eat! Verse 21: "So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak… " The giants.

You know this little Bible story. I promise you know it. You heard it one time. They have grapes (the promise). They have giants (the problem). This is really powerful. Watch this. Verse 23: "When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. That place was called the Valley of Eshkol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there". Eshkol means cluster in Hebrew. They're like, "It's a cluster of grapes. What do you want to call it"? "How about Cluster"? "Cool. Let's go back". Verse 25: "At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land. They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert… " They're still in the desert.

When you're in the desert, you ask desert-level questions. It's survival based. When you're in the desert, it's like, "How am I going to get through this day"? Let me back up a little bit. "How am I going to make it to 10:00 a.m".? Let me back it up a little bit. "How am I going to get out of the bed this morning"? Let me back it up a little bit more than that. "How am I going to get to sleep tonight with everything I have on my mind"? Those are desert questions. They are focused on limitation. They originate with Satan. "Did God really say you must not eat of any tree"? It's a limitation-based question, but God wants me to teach you on the power of a better question, a loaded question. Do you know the phrase? A loaded question. It contains more than appears on the surface. When Jesus asks, "What do you want"? he's not saying it like your kids just walked into your room and you're trying to have some married people time. "What do you want? Get out of here". He says, "What do you want? Let's start there, and let's move toward the deeper desire I created you for". It's a better question.

When you are in the desert, you let the Devil do all the question asking. "Who do you think you are dreaming like that? Who do you think you are putting yourself out there like that? What makes you think you can accomplish that? Well, if it was going to work, wouldn't it have worked by now"? Those are desert questions. It's when you've been used to not having enough or you've been used to somebody else oppressing you or something else oppressing you. Let's say it's an addiction. An addiction has been calling the shots. The only question you've been asking if you've been stuck in the throes of addiction is, "When can I get another hit of that"? By the way, it can be cocaine or it can be shopping. It can be Amazon just as easily as it can be heroin. We are not talking about one substance here. I'm coming for you today. God spoke to me. He said those are desert questions.

When you ask desert questions, you get dead-end answers. It doesn't open anything up. When you pick up your kids for school, don't ask, "How was your day"? because it gives them the option for a one-word answer: "Good" or "Bad". You have to ask them something more open. If you want to be creative, if you want to get your teenager to talk, you have to ask something different. I don't even know what the question would be yet, because I still haven't figured out how to get Graham to talk to me on the way home from school, but I'm working on it. I know what doesn't work is a "Yes or no," "Good or bad" answer. So, let's journey on in the text. "They [the spies] came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There [in the desert] they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: 'We went into the land [what God promised] to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey!'" News flash: God is right. "Here is its fruit". "You wanted some grapes. We brought you some grapes".

Now, only the ones Joshua and Caleb would carry, because the rest of them wouldn't carry any fruit. Joshua and Caleb, the two spies they didn't name… They had a different spirit. They asked better questions. Instead of looking at how hard it was in the land and asking, "How in the world are we possibly going to do this"? they looked at the same situation… This is what I want you to see: God can give you the ability to look at a situation you were looking at as an impossibility and see it as an opportunity. There's a cluster of fruit… You know, the pomegranates, the figs, and the grapes. There's a cluster from Eshkol, but there's also a cluster happening between what God has called his people to do and the conflict they feel about it inside of themselves. It's a cluster. That's a negative word to me. I don't hear that usually about fruit. I usually hear it about stuff that goes wrong. "Man, it was a cluster". People say that. It's a cluster at Kadesh Barnea, because you have these 12 spies, and you have two of them who have faith to say, "Oh yeah. Taste this fruit. Get a little taste of this". At the same time they are getting a taste of tomorrow, they are being dragged back to a past that is beneath them.

Watch this. Verse 28: "But… " The fruit is just like God said it would be. "But the people… " The promise and the people. It's a cluster. The promise and the problems. It's a cluster. God told me to preach to somebody today who has a cluster right now in their life, in their mind, in their marriage, in their family. It's a cluster of fear and faith. It's a cluster of thoughts. You can't get it untangled. You can't really figure out if it has been a good year or a bad year. You don't really know what to think about it anymore. You don't know to think, "Is this my friend? Is this my enemy"? It's a cluster. That's what's happening at Kadesh Barnea. The man of God, Moses, sent these spies out, and he asked them three simple questions, but they came back with a but. "'But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.' Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, 'We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.'"

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," and Philippians 4:13 hasn't even been written yet. "But the men… " There's another but. There's a promise. There's a problem. There's a but in between. "But God… " That's my favorite but in the Bible: "But God… " You don't understand. "But God, who is rich in mercy… " "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". I don't know if this sounds right, but you need another but. You need a new leader. You keep being led by your feelings. You keep being led by your frustrations. You keep being led by your limits. You need a new leader or you're going to die in the desert, in the wilderness of "What if"? "Wow! We can't attack those people". Is this good to you? I swear, the church went Presbyterian on me overnight. I don't know what's happening in here today. I am preaching this passage of Scripture.

You know what? Maybe that's a bad question, "Is this good to you"? Maybe, is it good for you? Maybe you need to hear this word today, that you can't hide behind your but. "'We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are.' And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, 'The land we explored devours those living in it.'" Some people think this is a reference to infertility in Canaan. "It devours those living in it". Some scholars say that's because there was such a high infertility rate, and that's what it means. Regardless about it, they said, "The land is fruitful, but the people are of great size". "We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them". Chapter 14, verse 1: "That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, 'If only we had died in Egypt!'" On the cusp of Canaan.

Do you know how close you are to being free? And you taste tomorrow sometimes. You taste the grapes sometimes. "Oh, that's what a good day feels like. Oh, that's what it feels like to not have to prove myself and just sit there and let them sound smart if they want to, but I don't have to say anything back. Oh, that's what it feels like. Three hours without Instagram, and I feel like I have detoxed from the Devil himself". You get a little taste of it. You get a little taste of tomorrow. I almost wanted to call this message "Tomorrow Tastes Better". That's the only way you're going to give up Egypt. We all have a secret Egypt. Not a geographical place… an emotional place. It emotionally grips your potential tightly… Egypt. I'm spelling Egypt.

Everybody has a secret Egypt. Let's be nice to these people. You think you would have done better? You almost wouldn't even come to church, because "I don't like the parking". Look. They're nervous of warriors who are bigger than them. You're nervous about your mother-in-law on Thursday coming into town for Thanksgiving, and can you put up with her for four hours. So let's give some grace. They just came out of Egypt. It's not easy leaving Egypt. I've been preaching about this for two years now. "If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword"? That's a really dumb question. You know, you could take that same question… "Why did the Lord bring us through the Red Sea? Why did the Lord get me through my 20s? Why did the Lord get me through that horrible divorce? Why did the Lord get my kid through that horrible situation"? But look at how they finish it. "… only to let us fall by the sword"?

I think you could take that same question… "Why did God bring me this far to leave me"? If you flip that question a little bit… "Why would God bring me this far to leave me right now"? That is a better question. Do you really think he saved you with his Son's blood, but he's not going to provide for your material needs? Do you really think he came all the way from heaven at Christmastime like a baby, but he's going to leave you now because you're struggling with this? Do you really think God did all of that and saw you through all of these dangers and toils and snares, and his grace is going away now? Why would God bring you this far to leave you? Why would he speak it if he didn't mean it? Why would he do it if he wasn't committed to it? He who began a good work in me is faithful to complete it.

So, the same question they're using to get discouraged, I want to turn it on the Devil and say, "He didn't bring me out of Egypt to kill me in Canaan. He didn't bring me out of oppression to let me die in this uncertainty. No, no! He didn't bring me through COVID to let me drop this Christmas". It's a better question. Why would he have done all that if that was all it was? Why would he have put it in you? Another better question: Why is the Devil fighting you so hard? If you're not carrying anything, why is he coming at you? I watched a little bit of football. They don't usually hit somebody if they're not carrying the ball or blocking somebody who is. I never saw a fan get hit. I never saw a water boy get hit, except on Adam Sandler and Bobby Boucher, but that's not in the Bible. I'm carrying something. I've got something. I'm on to something. I'm on the edge of something. I have a better question: Why is the Devil standing at this door? I'm coming out of the desert. Yes! I don't know the answer, but I have a better question: If God be for me, who can be against me?

I'm carrying something. It's a cluster. I'm carrying some grapes, but I'm fighting some giants. It's a cluster. I'm carrying promise, but I have some problems. It's a cluster. I have a heavenly calling, but I have some human conflicts. It's a cluster. "I'm in the valley of Eshkol right now. Be patient with me. It's heavy. I'm carrying something. I'm carrying a promise on a pole. I never carried grapes before. I only ate quail in Egypt. I never tasted tomorrow yet. When you're nice to me, it scares me, because the only people I ever knew who said they loved me were nasty to me. I'm trying to start liking when you're nice to me, but when I push you away like that, be patient with me, because it's a cluster. I don't know how to trust, because it's a cluster. I don't really know how to show love. That's why sometimes I lash out. I don't know how to show love, so I lash out, but really, I want to be close to you. It's a cluster".

The craziest question in the text, the one I wanted to preach, is verse 3. Verse 3 says, "Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn't it be better for us to go back? We should choose a leader and go back". They are not being led by their potential at this moment or their wisdom. They're certainly not being led by God's promise. They're being led by their fear back to what is familiar. People preach coming out of Egypt like Egypt represents sin. It doesn't. It represents survival. Have you noticed this thread of my teaching these past two years? I'm watching people stuck in survival mode. You get a little taste of tomorrow, a little glimpse of God's best, but the moment you taste the grapes, you start thinking about the giants. The people who made the decision not to go into this Canaan, this promise, this flowing place, this promised land… They didn't even see the giants for themselves.

Do you know what's even crazier? The spies who came back answered a question Moses didn't even ask. I read you every question Moses asked. He asked, "What are the people like"? That was his problem right there. He started the question with "What are the people like"? That's something you can't control. When you start with other people, you need a better question. No, no, no. This is going to have practical value. If you are going to entrust your time to me, I am going to help you in your Monday, your Tuesday, your Wednesday. I'm not giving you some Sunday syrup pancake preacher sermon where we just feel good for a few minutes and everybody goes out in a little Christian coma for 30 minutes. This is the Word of God. You can't start in the wrong place and end up at the right place. When Moses asked, "What are the people like? Are they big or small?" the people who were under his leadership went in and looked for exactly the lens he gave them.

So, when they came back, all they could talk about was the Amalekites, the Hittites, the Jebusites (it's holiday season… the cellulites), and all of the battles. (I couldn't resist it.) When you start with that, when you start with desert questions, you end up in dead-end situations. In 11 days you could have moved through this wilderness. You have to study this sometime. Promise me you'll look this up later. Okay? In Joshua 2, one of the spies who carried the pole with Caleb… He got to go into the Promised Land. Everybody else who was over 20 died in the wilderness. They got stuck, because they asked questions God didn't tell them to ask. They tried to answer questions God wasn't even asking. "How is it going to work out"? That's above your pay grade, Bubba. (Moncks Corner coming out of me now.) I know all things work together for the good. Right?

So, my question about it can't be, "How is this going to work out"? If I do that, I will limit my answer to my experience, how I've seen God work it out so far at this point in my life. What if he wants to do something better? It's the power of a better question. "God, what have I not even asked, thought, or imagined that you have the power to do"? When Joshua led the people into the Promised Land 40 years later, he sent two spies, not twelve, because he didn't want another cluster. That represents focus. You have the wrong focus group. You're asking the wrong people. You're asking jealous people. Sometimes they don't even know they're insecure, and you are limiting your potential to their insecurity. "Well, I'd tell my wife off if I were you. I would just go down there to the golf course". That's why your wife sleeps in another room, dude. Okay. "Oh, this is kind of rough now. I like the other stuff he was preaching earlier". But it's true, isn't it?

Sometimes when we get the wrong focus group it costs us our fruit. There are three questions Moses told them to ask. When Joshua sent the people into the land, he didn't do any of that. He said, "Just go check it out. Come back. We're going in. God said it, so we're going to focus". Do y'all remember about Rahab? She was of a questionable profession. She was a prostitute, and the Lord used her. "I don't know if the Lord can use a prostitute". He didn't ask you who he could use. You didn't think virgins could have babies either, but you're going to be singing "Silent Night" in a few days. Nothing is impossible with God. When Rahab told Joshua, she said, "We're all scared of y'all". The spies came back saying, "They're huge. We look like grasshoppers to them". Well, first of all, what are you doing asking your enemies what you look like? Why are you answering the Devil's question? The Serpent said to Eve, "Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden"? That's the Devil's question.

Look at verse 2. Eve said back to the Serpent… So, what would be a better question? The Serpent slithers up to you in the garden. "Did God really say… "? questioning God's intentions and motives and capacity and wisdom and all that stuff. What would be a better question than "Did God really say"? I have one suggestion for Eve. "Why am I talking to a snake"? "Why am I speaking to something that's beneath me? Why am I dealing with something… ? Why am I consulting with something that Jesus could"... That's a better question. Right?

Y'all, the other day I was driving through a parking lot, and this lady whips out of her parking space and almost hits me. I had to put the brakes on. I put them on pretty hard. It wasn't like the airbag came out, but it was a close call. My car does this thing… I don't know if your car has this feature. When somebody does something stupid, the car honks. It grabs my hand and honks the car. It's a feature on my car. I honked at the lady. Y'all, I'm sure she saw my Elevation sticker, but she flipped me the bird, sideways bird with the thumb, and she was eating a bagel and looking at… She didn't even look up at me to flip me off. A bagel, driving with her knees, running out of the parking lot. She flipped me the bird. Apparently, my car also has a feature that it goes in reverse when someone flips me the bird. Y'all, I wasn't thinking. Something took over.

I put the car… Oh, this wasn't 18 years ago before I became a pastor. This was last week. I wish it was 18 years ago under the blood. I'm not even sure I'm forgiven of this one yet that I'm telling you. I haven't even told my kids this yet. I put the car in reverse. I don't know what I'm going to do when I get back, but I can't drive by somebody flipping me the… It was the bagel that put me over the top. If she hadn't been eating the bagel, I wouldn't have backed up, but bagel and bird, I'm backing up. I put the car in reverse. Boom! Right into another lady's Jeep. So now I'm like… I got out of my car with my hands up. Not worship, just surrender to stupidity. I said, "I'm so sorry. Let's look at it. We'll do whatever you want to do. It's my fault. I'm an idiot. She had a bagel. She flipped me off". It was the bagel. It took it over the top. Then we looked. Her car was fine. It's a Jeep. God loves Jeeps. Mine was fine too.

I gave her all the cash I had. She didn't want to call the cops. There was nothing wrong with her car. But when I drove back off, I looked at my car. There was a little scratch, just a little scratch. It could have gone a whole different way. Right? She could have been crazy. She could have been a church member. Thankfully, it was just a little scratch. I got a lesson from it. A very simple lesson, but it was powerful. The Lord said, "I want you to be glad you have that scratch to remind you what happens the next time you are tempted to back up to something that is beneath you". It's a little scratch, but what a lesson. Here's the real question: What were you going to do when you got back there? You want to go back to Egypt? You want to go back to that? So, what are you going to do when you prove you're right? Are you going to be right and lonely? Every time you want to go back, remember you are going back to something that is beneath you. By the way, it's not always bad to go back.

In Luke 15, there was this young man who decided to ask his father for his share of the inheritance early. "I want it now". Do you know what's really scary? His father gave him what he asked for even though it wasn't best for him. Israel got Saul as their king, and God didn't want to give them a king. He wanted to be their king. You can get what you wanted asking the wrong question. After this young man had spent all his money, the father said, "Okay. I'll let you go," because he loved him enough to let him go. Now, this is one parable Jesus told. It's just one. The Bible says that after he had spent all he had in a foreign land, there began to be a famine in that country. That's what connected me from Numbers 13 with the Israelites who went to Egypt for a famine. God is setting them free, but they have to go through the desert. So do you, and so do I. We have to learn new ways. It's not enough to taste tomorrow. We have to learn new patterns, new responses. Backing up to somebody who shoots you the bird… You are a preacher, bro. What are you doing?

We all have these moments. What you do in those moments can be critical. Their fear in the moment kept them stuck for an entire generation, all because they asked the wrong question. Moses didn't ask them all that. He said, "Find out about the land. Is it good or bad"? That's a multiple choice. That's the first question. "Is this worth it"? Isn't that a great question? "Is this worth the energy? Is this worth the fight"? I had to learn that some things aren't. Moses said, "Spy out the land, and find out if it is good or bad". "Is this even worth fighting for? Is this worth fighting about? Is this worth all this back and forth or can we just hug"? Do I really need you to like me? Look. Do whatever you want to do. I quit trying to change people's opinions about me. I decided to focus on my character and my actions and not backing up into people's Jeeps and getting my own act together and finding out "Wow! If I will focus on my character, God will take care of my reputation".

Moses said, "Check out the land. Is it good or bad"? "Is this even worth fighting for"? That's a good question. The second thing he said was, "Check out the towns. Are they unwalled or fortified"? What a great question. He said, "How are we going to do this? Do we have to go around the guards? Are there big walls? What are we going to have to do"? That's a great question. Not "Can we do it"? "How are we going to do it"? You have to shift your spirit to be more like Caleb. You have to start looking at stuff and saying, "If there are walls, we'll blow trumpets. If there are walls, we'll scale them. If there are enemies, God will take their protection away". So, how are we going to do this? Stop focusing so much of the question on how high the wall is. I just want to know, "God, is there a way around it or do you want me to go over it or do you want me to go under it"? Because one thing is for sure: I will not die in the desert. I won't do it. I am not going to let negative questions run the show of my life and contradict God's promise.

Then I love the last thing he said. "How's the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees? Bring some grapes, because it's the season". I learned that it's a really good question to ask. What is already growing? Sometimes it's the soil, not the seed. There is nothing wrong with what I preached to you today. There's a lot right with it. It's the Word of God. It can grow in your life. How's your soil? If your soil is too thorny, it won't matter how true the sermon was. Sometimes we're focused on the seed that goes in, but not the soil. That's what I want you to look at today: the soil of your heart, the soil of your soul, the soil of your mind. It's the power of a better question. It's the power of getting from a point of where they said, "Why would God bring us this far just to kill us? Shouldn't we go back to Egypt"?

Do you remember what happened to the boy in Luke 15? He spent all of his money, and he was filling his stomach with what the pigs were eating. A Jewish boy eating with pigs. That's about as far down as you can go. Right? But then he did something. He did something very significant. I want you to do this today. It's verse 17. It says, "When he came to his senses… " Up until now, he has been in his feelings. "This is what I want. This is what I deserve. This is where I'm going". Up until now, he has been in his feelings, but when he came to his senses, he asked a better question. "How many of my father's hired servants have food to spare, have a fridge full, have doggy bags after every night's meal? How are the servants eating at a buffet, and I'm rolling around with the pigs at the bottom"? When he asked a better question, he made a better decision. When you ask a better question… Help me, Holy Spirit. Help me get this message through. Help me push through all the stuff the Enemy has been asking.

"Oh, how small I am, how little I have, how much I've messed up, what I could have done different". That's the wrong question. Here's a better question: "Why am I starving when my father is good? Why am I dying when my father is good? Why am I hungry when my father has more than enough? Why am I living on this level? Why am I backing up to something that is beneath me"? Watch his decision. Verse 18: "I will set out and go back". It's not always bad to go back. "I'm going back to my father". That's quite the opposite of how the children of Israel responded. It got hard. They said, "We're going back to Pharaoh". This cat said, "It's getting hard. I'm going back to my father". Please stand. Put down whatever you're holding in your hands. Open your hands. Plant your feet. Take a deep breath. I want to ask you a better question. Numbers 14: "Wouldn't it be better to go back"? Not to Egypt… to your Father. Wouldn't it be better to go to the source rather than going to people? Wouldn't it be better to go back? That's crazy. That's the same question that kept them stuck in the wilderness, and it's the same question that brought the Prodigal Son back home. Wouldn't it be better to go back?

I feel God calling somebody back today… back, back, back… back to your full self, back to your real life, back to the real reasons, back to the true motive, back to the kingdom of God, back to what's within you, back to what you were when he made you in his image, back to what you were when he spoke you into existence, back to what you were when he created you and knit you together in your mother's womb. Before you knew your name, he knew you. Before you were born, he set you apart. Back to that. Back to the real you. Back to beneath all of the layers of disappointment. Wouldn't it be better to go back to your Father who's already on the porch than to stay down here with these pigs? Wouldn't it be better to go back to the one who made you?

Father, your Word goes forth like seed, and it needs good soil. I honor you today, God, because you gave us good seed. You spoke to us a better question. "Is it worth it? What will it take? What's growing right now in my life"? We thank you, Lord, for the power of a better question. We think we know what we need. We think we know what we want. What should we want, God? For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are your ways above our ways and your thoughts above our thoughts. We're coming back, God. We're coming back to the only one who knows. Yes, Lord. We repent. We're coming back to the top. Repent. Back to your way of thinking. I thank you now, Lord, and I want to pray for somebody who has been with the pigs. I want to speak to somebody who's halfway back to Egypt, and I want to ask that your love would draw them home. Maybe the best question is, "Who will separate us from the love of God"? I thank you, Lord, that nothing can stand between us and our Father. For how shall he who freely gave us all things not also give us this gift? Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. What should I want, God?

I want to tell you one more thing. It may be my whole message for you. When Jesus said you don't have to run around asking, "What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear"? he said, "Your Father knows that you need them". Your Father knows. And here's what I want you to know: If he dresses the lilies With beauty and splendor How much more will he clothe you? What a question. "How much more"? That's a better question. "What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear"? That's a better question.

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