Steven Furtick - Jump To A New Conclusion
There's a lesson today that I want to teach you, and I want to start at Luke, chapter 1. This will feel like you got a running start if you heard what I preached last week. It's really going to have some momentum for you. We've been talking about "Are you in control"? and we've been asking God that sometimes, respectfully. We've been asking God, "Are you behind this? Are we still good? Is this still in your hands"? We don't tell anybody that. We come to church and hide all that stuff. We sweep it right under the couch of our Christian vocabulary. But I know what you've been thinking. God showed me. He showed me some stuff you've been wondering about. It's okay.
As you're going to see today, that puts you in good company. Let's begin at Luke, chapter 1. I guess you could say Christmas is coming early, because this is the passage they normally go to for Christmas. Since the rest of the year is so screwed up, I figured I would just mix it up a little bit. Look at how the Bible says it in Luke, chapter 1, verse 39. "At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored…'"
We've been talking about questions that are in the Bible. That's a great one. Have you ever seen that one in the Bible before? I never did before this week. "Why am I so favored"? Ask somebody, "Why am I so blessed"? Ask them, "Why are you so blessed that you get to sit next to me"? Have you thought about that? Well, the mother of John the Baptist, Elizabeth, asked that of her encounter with Mary, the mother of Jesus. She said, "Why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her"! Go to Isaiah 55, verse 8. "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'"
I want to talk to you today about Jumping to a New Conclusion. I was researching on Wikipedia, and Wikipedia said the world record for the long jump is held currently by Mike Powell of the United States of America. In 1991, in Tokyo, Japan, he jumped 29' 4.25", or, if you're in any country that is less arrogant than America that has adopted the metric system, 8.95 meters. We do our own thing over here. I don't know about that. I do know about this. The world record for the long jump, no matter what Wikipedia says, is not held by Mike Powell. The world record for the long jump (and I've never told you this before) is held by my father, who is in heaven, watching from the campus called Heaven today. When I tell you that this man holds the world record in the ability to jump to conclusions… Nobody could jump to a conclusion like Larry Furtick. He's not here, so we can talk about it. I'm going to use this man as an illustration as payback for all of the times… I mean, he could get suspicious.
Toward the end of his life, he was really sick, so he was on medication. So then he had performance-enhancement drugs, and he could jump to conclusions even more. Some of these things I cannot tell you about because it would put such a depressing fog over the sermon, but one of them is kind of funny. I never told Eric this. Eric knew my dad really well, so he kind of knows what I'm talking about. But some of the crazy stuff I never even told anybody about, and then I find myself every year he's gone remembering this stuff. I'm like, "That was crazy. Was that real life"? Well, here's one of the things. I just tell you this as an illustration about jumping to conclusions. Y'all better be lucky I had squats yesterday or I would jump across this stage to illustrate the message. I thought about coming out to Van Halen with the synth pad, but I figured YouTube might flag the sermon. Oh, my dad could jump.
Now, he was not athletic, but he could jump to a conclusion. Here's an example. Case in point. When he was sick, he lived in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, by himself for a period because he was estranged from the family. I've told that story. I don't really feel like telling that story again today. The point is it was really, really rough. One day I remember thinking, "I need to go see him". I didn't have a lot of time. The church was so busy, but I wanted to show him he was more important to me than a busy church. Wes Watson said he had this little plane where he could fly us… It's not even really worthy to be called a plane. (I don't know what you were doing letting me get in the air in that. You must not value the man of God at all.) But he said, "It's only a three-and-a-half-hour drive, so it would be a short flight".
I figured Elijah, my oldest son, and I would go see my dad, and we could go spend four hours with him and fly back, and I could be back to preach for church. I was traveling a lot during this time. It was crazy times. When I got there with Elijah… I guess Elijah was like 5 years old or something like that. When I got there with Elijah, my friend Shawn Wood, who's a pastor in Moncks Corner, picked me up from the Moncks Corner municipal airport. So, we fly in on this little plane that doesn't look like it could make it to your row, ma'am, but somehow we got to Moncks Corner. Shawn picks me up and takes me to my dad's. He says, "I'm just going to stay around for a little while, and you just text me". It was very tense with my dad at that time. He said, "If it goes badly, I'll be close by". He said, "I won't go farther than five minutes away, and then I'll take you back to the airport". My dad was so honored. It just made his day. He couldn't believe it. It was the happiest I'd seen him in a long time. He was so happy that Elijah and I found him important enough to get on a plane and come see him. He said, "You flew here"? I said, "Yeah, Dad. It's not like an expensive thing. My buddy who's on staff at the church had it". He said, "So, you flew here to see me"? I said, "Yes, sir. I flew here to see you".
We'd been getting on each other's nerves, and it kind of blew his mind. I had a good visit. I went to Arby's and got him a Jamocha Shake. He seemed happy about that. A few days later, I get a call from him, and his opening line on the call is, "I know about the video". I said, "What"? He said, "I know about the video"! I said, "I heard you, but I don't know what the crap you're talking about"! People just start talking louder, like that's going to clarify it. "I heard the English words you said. They have no meaning to me. It's random". He said, "I know about the video you shot for Shawn Wood while you were here in Moncks Corner last week". I thought, "Video for Shawn Wood? Oh, I shot a video for Shawn Wood four weeks ago for his church anniversary".
My dad, who's sitting around the house with nothing better to do, talked to somebody who said, "I saw your son on a video". They had shown a video I had made for Shawn's anniversary four weeks earlier in the studio at Elevation. My dad heard there was a video of me at Shawn's church, and he put 2 and 7 together and got 6. He said, "I know about the video. I know you didn't really come here to see me. You put on this big show like you got a plane. You didn't come here for me. You came here for Shawn". I said, "I did that four weeks ago, Dad". He said, "Oh". Have you ever gotten caught jumping to a conclusion and all you could say was "Oh"? "Nothing to see here. Walk away slowly. Forget that ever happened". So move over, Mike Powell. Larry Furtick has the world record for the long jump. I think it runs in the family, because I think I have genetically the same ability to jump to a conclusion.
I want to share something with you today that has been life-changing for me that I realized about my dad. I thought about that. That story just came back to me. I was studying about John the Baptist being born of Zechariah who was too old to bear children, and his wife Elizabeth was too old to bear children, but God did it anyway. Just remembering that when Zechariah, who was a priest in the line of Aaron, was burning incense before the Lord, which is in itself, to go into the Holy of Holies, a statistical improbability. There were 18,000 of these priests, so for the lot to fall to you to go before the Lord and burn incense was an amazing thing. Not to mention that while he was burning incense, the angel Gabriel came to him and said, "I am Gabriel, and you shall bear a son". Zechariah asked a question. "How can I be sure of this"? See, anytime you need certainty, it prohibits your ability to experience things God has spoken over your life.
The angel Gabriel said, "Because you did not believe, you will not be able to speak until this sign is fulfilled". For the angel prophesied a son who would prepare the way for the Lord. You know him as John the Baptist, but Zechariah just knew him as a statistical improbability. "How can I…"? What we've been learning this year is as long as we try to stay in figuring out how and knowing things with our minds, we limit the ability of our spirit to know what God has already spoken before we were ever born. The Lord gave me something to get to. This is a one-point sermon. This is the whole point, and then you can keep listening. The conclusion you jump to is based on the belief you start with. I'm going to say that again for the slow note-takers. I'm going to say it again for everybody who needs to put down their cereal spoon and pick up a pen.
The conclusion you come to (and I'm going to prove this through the Scripture) is based on the belief you start with. Why did my dad spin a story that I put on an entire charade…? I mean, think about the planning that went into my visit from his perspective. Why was it easier for him to be suspicious of his son? I think somewhere deep down he really didn't believe he was worthy of all that. I think it's possible that deep down inside of yourself, there are some conclusions you keep coming to. Your imagination is amazing. Do you know how I know that? Because you can feel your back molar in your mouth starting to hurt and convince yourself it's coronavirus. That's not even a listed symptom. I've never heard Fauci say that a molar… But you can somehow take a cavity and turn it into corona, because deep down, somewhere suspicious in your mind, you believe, "If anything bad can happen, it's going to happen to me. If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong". That might be Murphy, but it ain't gospel.
I love Elizabeth. Elizabeth had a whole different spirit than Zechariah. She said, "Why am I so favored"? "Why am I so blessed"? The conclusions we come to over and over again are based in the belief we start with. Can I prove it to you? A few years ago, the ministry was going through a testing season. It wasn't like 2020 where everything is easy. At this particular time, every time one of my main staff members would reach out to me, it was typically with bad news. Now, bad news creates bad beliefs if you're exposed to it over and over again. The Bible says, "Whose report will you believe"? When you have bad news after bad news after bad news… Here's how this manifested in my life. We're going to walk through this also in John the Baptist's life and in your life. Wade Joye sent me an email. This was in June 2017. "How do you remember that specifically"? Because I pulled up the email while I was getting ready for this sermon. I wanted to make sure I remembered it right. It said on the email subject "EW updates". Elevation Worship.
I scrolled through quickly to see who quit…who quit, who did something stupid. But everything in the email was about good stuff. It was like, "This song is doing great. This new artist wants to take this song. 'Only King Forever' is charting on the radio". We had already quit singing it in church, and now it was on Christian radio, right on schedule. So I looked. I said, "Oh my god"! I looked back up at the thing, because I'm scanning through it to see what's wrong. Nothing was wrong. I was in shock. I had a heart attack that nothing was bad in the email. I went back to the subject line, and it actually said in the subject line "Fun EW updates". I literally took the fun out of it. You've heard this expression before? "Man, you take the fun out of everything". I literally took the fun out of it, because I was framing it by fear and not by faith.
Please be patient with me. I had experienced some bad news over and over again, and the bad news trained me to believe that it was going to get worse. A lot of us have running in the background of our belief system, "It's going to get worse. It's going to get worse". Even when it's going well… "It's going to get worse". Sometimes Holly will tell me, "Let's go on a walk. It's beautiful outside". The first thing I do is check the weather app, because it's probably going to rain in five hours, so we can't walk around the block, because what if we get caught in the rain? She'll say, "Babe, it's a walk around the block. We're not going to hike the Appalachian trail". But there's something in me. I'm just being honest with you. I think it's genetic. I can do this long jump. I've never told the church this before. It's a secret skill I've been keeping from you. I am a gold medalist long jumper. I can jump to a conclusion. And now I'm going to call the roll.
Every professional long jumper, wave your hand at me, either physically or digitally. Somebody find me a long jump emoji. If they don't make one…I don't know if they make one…put a gold medal in the chat for all of you who are gold medalists in making crap up in your mind. I don't know why y'all are clapping for that. It's really not a good thing. In the text I read you, the Scripture said that Elizabeth, after finding out she was pregnant with the forerunner of Jesus Christ… I mean, think about this. This is amazing news. She went into seclusion for five months, and Mary, who was her relative, found out that she was also with child. It's a wonderful juxtaposition of Jesus and John. One of them is being born to a woman who's too old. One of them is being born to a woman who's too young. One of them is past that point in her life, and one of them is a virgin and isn't ready for this yet. In that context, God brings the two of them together to encourage one another's faith. One of the things that has been bothering me is that you've been fighting some of the biggest battles of your life alone in this season.
After a while, like my dad, you can start going crazy, coming to conclusions that are killing you. I totally do that. I come to a conclusion that is based in a belief. Remember what Elizabeth said to Mary in verse 45. "Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her". Isn't it amazing that it begins with belief, that behavior begins with belief? So, why am I so good at creating worst-case scenarios? The conclusions I come to are based in the belief I start with. What I have to get better at doing is identifying where those beliefs came from. John the Baptist was a mighty man. Eccentric wardrobe, no doubt. I mean, y'all think I don't dress like a preacher. This guy was running around with some crazy belts. It wasn't just a fashion statement for him, though. He was representing something new. He was preparing the way for the new era, the kingdom of God.
It's amazing, though, because when Elizabeth first reached Mary… Remember, Mary would have had to travel something like 50 miles to get to her relative. The first thing she did when she found out she was pregnant with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah who would save his people from their sins, was to get around someone else who was carrying something significant. To do that, she had to go up the mountains. I was thinking about how she was going to elevation. I was just putting that in there as a thing. When she got there, an amazing thing happened. Something inside of her knew… The thing she was carrying, John the Baptist, which was to prepare the way for the Lord, knew that what she was in the presence of was significant. Do you know how you just know some things deep down? Some of the things you know are not true. I feel like I just flipped you in a jujitsu match.
You were like, "God said it. I believe it. That settles it". Some of the stuff you believe God didn't say to begin with. I'm going to give you about 12 examples, and I might throw in a thirteenth. Some of you believe this, but it's not true. You believe that "Who I am is what I do, and what I do is who I am". The reason I know you believe this is because I believe it every single Sunday I get up to preach. Do you know that I feel, a lot of times, like I'm only as good as my last sermon? It's understandable I would feel that way, because I grew up hearing things like, "God wants to use you". Usually, when you use something, that means it's a product. I began to think God wants to use me like I might use this pulpit or like I might use a fork or like I might use a spoon. I believe deep down that I'm really just something God wants to use, and I lose sight of the fact that before I was someone he wanted to use, I was someone he loved. Because of this, it's easy for me to jump to the conclusion that if I do not perform, that if I do not measure up to the expectation of performance, I do not have worth as a person.
So, what do you do when you lose the job you had identified with? The conclusion you come to is based on the belief you start with. When we say things that sound Christian, but they're really not constructive, like, "I'm just a sinner saved by grace…" It's the word just that bothers me. If you don't believe that you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and that all of your sins and your records… I know we live in cancel culture, but we forgot to talk about the most important thing that was canceled. The record of wrong that stood against me… That's what Christ canceled. That's what the cross canceled. That's what God canceled. "But I'm just a sinner saved by grace". See, to you that feels so true because you have so much proof. You have receipts. "I can show you my sin. I'm just a sinner saved by grace". If that's what you start with, if you approach your Father like a beggar, you will only ever be able to receive crumbs. You won't come boldly to the throne room if you believe, "I'm just a sinner saved by grace". It sounds so humble, but deeper down it leads us to look for God's judgment in places where he has promised us his grace.
See, we are highly suspicious of the nature of a God who we secretly believe doesn't really like us. He loves you, because Jesus is in your heart, but he really doesn't like you. He's really down with Jesus, but Jesus cosigned for your group insurance plan, and God is going to… No, no, no. He formed me in my mother's womb. Every weird thing about me… I mean, every weird thing about you… I'm not going to preach this like it doesn't apply to you. Every weird thing about you is included in Ephesians 2, and Ephesians 2 says, "You are God's workmanship". I haven't given you anything to put in the chat yet this sermon, and I know I'm failing you. Just say, "Take it up with the workman. I am God's handiwork. I know I'm weird. I don't mean to be weird, but take it up with the workman".
Now, the weirdest thing about your weirdness is that if you start with the belief that there's something wrong with you, you will skip past the best stuff God has put inside of you. Remember, John was so unique, and he was powerful because of his uniqueness. God said, "He's going to prepare the way for the Lord". Even in his mother's womb, he recognized the presence of Jesus. Do you know how I know that? Verse 44. It says the baby leaped for joy. That's why I called it jump. John was jumping around in the presence of Jesus before he was ever born. God saw and knew and loved you before one of your days came to be. You are looking at me like you believe this for somebody else but not for you. You're looking at me like you believe this in theory but it's a different thing in practice. The conclusions we jump to are not derived from what we believe theoretically. They are derived from what we believe practically and personally.
I have to get this personal to the point that I know God's purpose is working in my life and was working in my life. What if you started with that belief? What if you started with the belief that in your prenatal state, God was already forming you according to a purpose? What if you started with that? How different would you look to you in the mirror? How much less would you hate the sound of your own voice? How much less would you doubt the things God included to be a part of your destiny? I don't know who I'm preaching to, but God said, "I started this before you ever got here, and I will be faithful to complete it in your life". John just knew. He's jumping around in the womb because he knows he is in the presence of one who is greater. John was jumping around, kicking around. I've never been pregnant before, but I've heard about it and watched it and read about it in the books and saw it in the movies and next to me in the bed. Holly would say, "Feel that," and I'd be like, "I can't feel that". She'd say, "Can't you feel it"? and I'd say, "No, I can't feel it". She'd get frustrated that I couldn't feel it. "I'm not carrying it. I'm trying to experience something from the outside that you're experiencing from the inside".
So, John is carrying this assignment, and he's carrying this message. "Repent! The kingdom of heaven is near. Repent"! Let me show you this in the Scripture. It doesn't stop in the womb for John. He goes into the wilderness. From the womb to the wilderness, God's hand was on this boy. God was with you before it got started. He was with you in the womb. He's with you in the wilderness too. But John was preaching in the wilderness. He went there by choice, and he declared, "Repent! The kingdom of heaven is at hand". I have to show you this. In Matthew 3:11… This is part of his message. He said, "I baptize you with water for repentance". Change. Turn. He's preaching about repentance. "But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire". Who's he talking about? It's not a trick question. The answer is Jesus. Listen to this. This is the part. "His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire". John was expecting for Jesus to come with fire.
Now look at this in John's gospel, chapter 1, verse 29. The Bible says, "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said…'" "This is the one my spirit recognized before my frame was ever known. This is the one". "This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'" The conclusion you come to is based in the belief you start with. He's going all the way back to what he knew in his mother's womb. He's going back to that recognition that predated his cognitive ability to know, "There's something I knew before my life, before my experience, before my lens of the world began to taint it. This is the one".
There's something in you that has always known God was there. There's something in you that has always known he loved you. There is something in you… How many of you can testify? Even when it was so dark and everything in you doubted, there was something in you kicking, living, beating, to let you know there's a purpose for your life. This is the one. "'I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.' Then John gave this testimony: 'I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, "The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit". I have seen and I testify that this is God's Chosen One.' The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, 'Look, the Lamb of God!'" He recognized Jesus when he came toward him. He came to the conclusion "This is the one," because he had a belief he went back to.
I wish I could tell you he held fast to that confession every moment of his life. I wish I could tell you that he and Jesus went on an arena tour. These are the two most popular prophets in Israel since Isaiah. I wish I could tell you that John the Baptist was the opening act and Jesus was the headliner. Oh, Jesus packed crowds in. He performed miracles. He taught. He demonstrated. He exemplified the kingdom of God with authority and power, drove out demons, spoke with such wisdom that the crowds were amazed and his opponents were aghast. He healed men who were blind, and they saw again. He cured the lame, and they walked again. He even had the audacity to touch lepers so they could feel again. He healed Peter's mother-in-law one time. Many believe that's why Peter denied him. (That's a little preacher humor.)
I wish it was so simple that John and Jesus, hand in hand, because he believed it… I wish it was so simple as to tell you that God called me to preach when I was 16 and I've never doubted whether he called me. I wish I could tell you that I didn't have a voice inside my head that tells me I'm a pathetic hypocrite and I have no business being a preacher, even though I'm trying to live the best I can. I wish I could tell you I always started with the belief that "God is for me. Who can be against me"? I wish I could tell you that I haven't woken up one time at 3:00 in the morning since the pandemic and wondered, "Will we have a church left after this"? I wish I could tell you that. I kind of wish the story ended right here. I wish this was the conclusion. But one of the most disturbing questions in the Bible is in Matthew, chapter 11. What makes it so disturbing isn't necessarily the content of the question but who it came from.
In Matthew, chapter 11, a question was asked of Jesus, and this is just in verse 3. "Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else"? That question wouldn't bother me if it came from Nicodemus. He was a religious ruler who came to Jesus at night for fear of being put out of the synagogue, and he wanted to understand about being born again. It wouldn't bother me so much if that message came from the woman who was caught in the act of adultery or the Samaritan woman at the well who really didn't see the gospel the same way the Jewish people did. It wouldn't bother me even if it came from Peter, who was always saying stupid stuff. Peter is that kid you just tune out.
What makes that question so disturbing to me is that it came from the mouth of John. The same one who pointed him out came to a place where he started to doubt. "Are you really the one"? We can't talk about these things because all of the A-plus, gold-star Christians will start to judge us in the comments section if we do. "I never doubt," they say. Isn't it interesting that the disciple who said that kind of thing at the Last Supper of Christ was the one who denied ever knowing him before the rooster crowed? The conclusion you come to is based in the belief you start with. If you start by believing the proof of your faith is that you never experience doubt, then the moment you experience doubt, your faith will fall apart.
I hope this sets you free today to know that John, the one who pointed and said, "Look! The Lamb of God…" He was the first one. You have to get this. You really have to stop and think about it. You can't multitask this message and really get it. This is the one who announced, "This is the one," and now the one who announced it is asking. The one who made the announcement is now asking the question he had been answering just a year ago. He has been in prison for a year, and he's only getting secondhand reports on what Jesus is doing. When you don't experience it firsthand, when you just hear about it, when you can't really see it, and you can't see the big picture, and you're kind of trapped in this place, it gets kind of hard to believe it, so then you start to believe different things. You start to forget what God showed you in the Spirit, and you start trying to figure it out in your mind.
Now wait a minute. John said he was coming to judge with fire, but when they brought him a report about Jesus… Look at what Jesus told him. Matthew 11:5: "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor". But John wasn't expecting that. He was expecting judgment. So now he wants to know, "Are you the one"? When you believe God is a certain way and he has the audacity not to conform to the biography you created with your belief… Then you experience something you never expected. You come to the conclusion that he's not with you, because the belief you started with was that his presence would always accommodate your preferences.
So, I've been asking the question in my prayer time lately, "God, what are the things I have been believing that are not true"? We don't know the difference anymore between the truth and our belief. We think that because we believe it, that makes it true. I can jump off this stage right now and land on my head, and I can believe that the Lord will uphold me, and I will break my neck on international Internet television for all of you to see that the truth has no respect for my wrong belief.
Now let me ask you a question. What response does Jesus give to John, and what response does Jesus give to you? When we have come to this point where life has contradicted our belief about what's supposed to happen to good people or how your kids are supposed to turn out if you raise them a certain way, and "They'll never make bad decisions, and they'll never be like my sister's kids," and all of these things you believe, but when you run head first into a truth that contradicts your belief, what is the message of Jesus? Does Jesus have a message for you? Does Jesus have a message for John, the one who faithfully prepared the way, the one who said, "I must become less; he must become greater" (John 3:30), the one who was willing to go before him, the one who knew him in the womb? Does Jesus have a message for John? Does Jesus have a message for you? Does God have a word for your life today? I believe he does.
Matthew 11:6: "Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me". "Tell John that. Tell John, 'Don't stumble.' Tell John, just like he went first in life, he's going to go first in death". John went on to give his life in prison for the cause of righteousness. Jesus didn't assure him with a sweet platitude. Jesus didn't assure him with a Pinterest link. Jesus didn't assure him with something that rhymed. He said, "Blessed is the one who does not…" The word in Greek is skandalon. In the NIV they call it does not stumble, or a few other definitions to describe what happens to us when we run into something in our lives that doesn't match what we thought would happen: It means to trip up, to entice. It means, literally, a stumbling block that may cause you to trip and fall or to fall away. I see it like a picture, so let me use your stool.
This may be too simple for you, but Jesus told John… This is skandalon. This is offense. This is a stumbling block. This is the thing that is getting in the way of you moving forward in your faith in this season of your life against the odds. This is the thing. Jesus says to John, "Don't trip". What did you say? You want to come show me? Come on up and show me what you just said. I wondered who would get it, because this is how I saw it. He said, "Don't trip, John. Just…" That's how I saw it in my head. He said, "Get a good base and just… John, just like you were doing in your mother's womb…" Somebody say, "Jump, John". That is something that can make you fall, but it is also something that can strengthen your faith. "Jump, John. Keep jumping. You know what's true. You know who I am. You saw me before you knew me. You saw the Spirit like a dove. Don't get tired in this place. Don't get tired in this trial. Don't trip, John! Just jump! You know what to do. Just jump, John, and keep jumping"!
As a matter of fact, one scholar said that when Luke said the baby jumped in the womb of Elizabeth, it was echoing when David brought the ark back to Jerusalem, and when he got the presence of God…six steps…guess what he did. He started jumping. "I have the presence of God back. I have the provision of God working in my house. I have the favor". God said, "Jump. Jump, John! If you believe you're still blessed, jump, John! These chains can't keep you from jumping. Jump, John, jump"! "Tell John, 'It would be a shame for you to trip over something that's not even true.'"
The Lord said to ask you: Are you tripping over something…stumbling block, skandalon…that's not even true? Are you staying away from God's presence because of an offense you think he's holding against you? Are you tripping over something that's not even true? Are you running from a Jezebel who doesn't even have the power to take your life? Are you tripping over something that's not even true? The conclusion you come to is based in the belief you start with. For all of us who think God will love us more later, maybe we need to be reminded what the name John means anyway. His name means loved. So, in those moments when you can't feel it, I want to encourage you to believe it by faith. All week long, I want you jumping. Your calf muscles are going to look like they got bowling ball implants when you come back to church next week. This week, I'm jumping to a new conclusion. I used to believe I wasn't enough.
When I found out that his Spirit in me is the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead, now that I believe that… The belief I start with in every situation determines the conclusion I come to. Jesus said to John, and he says to you, "Stop tripping over things that aren't true". In John's case, he needed an upgraded expectation of the kingdom of God, and he would get one if he didn't trip. Are you tripping lately? Are you tripping over stuff that isn't even true? I want to pray for you. I feel like Isaiah 55:8 is not only a good place to start the sermon, but it's a really good place for us to land. It's not only a good place to jump from; it's a good place for us to anchor in. The Lord said through the prophet, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways". "I'm going to do what you asked me to do, but it won't be the way you thought".
For everybody who is dealing in your life right now with standing in front of something that was unexpected for you, I want you to bow your head and make a sanctuary in your heart. It would be such a shame for the Lord to bring you to this moment and to have plotted and purposed your life from your mother's womb for you to come to this and trip. You have to believe, just like John, that in every season of your life God is preparing. The one who prepared the way for Jesus came to a stumbling block himself. What's standing in front of you today is not proof that God doesn't want you to do it. If you believe that, you'll stop. You'll lay down and die right where you are.
God, we instruct our hearts today to be set on things above where Christ is, not on earthly things; to remember that eternal purpose accompanies and impregnates each moment with infinite potential because of your Spirit, and that Spirit lives in us. I believe you sent me to the pulpit today for people all over the world who need to jump to a new conclusion, who need to be reminded of gospel truth. Every sin is forgiven and every debt erased. We thank you for it now in Jesus' name. Somebody who's tripping off a memory, somebody who's tripping off a hypothetical, somebody who is tripping over the torment of what might happen. Lord, we believe what Elizabeth said.
Blessed is she, blessed is he, who believed that what the Lord spoke would be fulfilled. What Elizabeth told Mary God is telling you. Blessed is the one who believes that what God spoke he will fulfill. Don't trip. Trust, moment by moment, day by day. What I love about God is that he already fulfilled it. I thank God that in my life he has already worked out according to his divine counsel everything that concerns me. Father, we thank you that your Word does not return void. It accomplishes what you sent it for. Everybody with lifted hands right now say, "I believe that the Lord will fulfill his purpose for me". Now jump, John, jump. Get up there to heavenly places, seated with Jesus. Lift those hands! Lift a praise! Give him glory! Jump, John!