Steven Furtick - Even If You Can't Feel God...
I need you to make a declaration by faith. Every mouth in this room open up and say, "God is with me right now. God is with me right now". Come on, say it again. "God is with me right now". Some of y'all at another campus are not saying it, but you're not saying it to me, so say it out loud for yourself. Say, "God is with me right now". Remember that the things which are seen are not made with things that do appear. God does not build with carpenter material that you can see and fabricate your faith with your physical senses. When God builds something, it will not look like what you pictured. He has a different picture, and he builds according to his picture.
Now, the message of Christmas is about his presence, not my picture. The message of Christmas says the worlds were framed… Framed. I know they use it in a construction way, but this is a visual term: frame. They frame it. Did you get your picture from the world or from the Word? Did you get your picture of what a man is supposed to be, of what a woman is supposed to be, of what success is, of what fulfillment is…? Did you get it from the Word or the world? The Bible says that by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God. Framed. Are you framing this season of your life with your faith or with your fear? Honestly now. Answer it honestly. As you look at what you cannot understand in your life right now… Every hand in the room that I saw went up when I said, "Is it different than what you pictured"? Is it different than what you pictured? This was an insult.
Someone said to me one time when I walked in, "Oh, I never saw you before. I listen to your podcast. You're not what I pictured". I said, "What did you picture"? They said, "I pictured you bigger". I pictured it bigger. I pictured at this age I would be past some certain things. I pictured it different. I pictured parenting way different. I thought we'd be doing drive-time devotionals from the original Greek of Philippians. I thought we'd be doing Bible sword drills. I didn't know they'd be pulling out real swords, stabbing each other with forks in the kitchen. Y'all are looking at me so holy. It's different than what you picture. It's better, but it's different. Ministry is different than what I pictured. Let me go all the way. Adulthood is different than what I pictured.
Can we be real with one another for a moment? It's different. They sold us something that isn't real. We're supposed to have it figured out. I'm supposed to have good sense. I'm supposed to be a fully cooked turkey by now, and I'm coming out of the oven still raw, and I have mouths to feed. It's different than the picture! When they put the sermon online for the video, they have to switch between different shots, and they have instructions to use of what shots they put on the screen even now while I'm preaching. Because I move around so much, like the spastic preacher that I am… These are highly trained, competent individuals, and somehow, they always keep me in the center of the picture. But what if the switcher fell asleep?
I'm going to do an example, because I want you to see this. Imagine if the person on the switcher that goes from the tight shot to the wide shot, that moves the thing on the thing… (Those are the technical terms.) First, show them what you're supposed to do. Okay? Let's say I do a lateral movement over here to the side. Look. They have a shot for that. But suppose they didn't? Put it on that other shot. Now, for the maximum benefit of this illustration, if you are at Ballantyne, watch the screen. If you're at another campus, you have the competitive advantage right now. Sometimes God does this. Watch the screen. Sometimes God does this.
Now, the only conclusion you can come to, if you are using your eyes, is that the person who was in the picture is no longer in the building. The only way for you to know I'm still here is to go not by what you see but by what you hear. Right now, those of you who cannot see me on the screen… Watch the screen. You can't see me on the screen, but if you know my voice, you will know that I did not leave you nor forsake you. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was here before you were, and the Word was spoken before you saw your frame. So when I don't feel him, he's with me, because his name is Immanuel. I can't see him, but I trust him, because he spoke it, and I will see it with the eyes of my faith.
He's with me on my good day. He's with me on my bad day. He's with me when I've got it. He's with me when I don't even know where to look. He's with me when they like me. He's with me when nobody will return my text. He's with me when I'm married. He's with me when I'm divorced. He's with me when I have a job. He's with me when I don't see a way to pay it. He's with me when I'm well. He's with me when I'm sick. He's with me with a clear sky. He's with me in the storm. He didn't leave. I just have to change my frame. If he spoke it, you will see it! He's with me! What's in me is from him, and my God is for me! He's with me.
So don't be afraid to go home and do what God told you. Don't be afraid to face your fears with the frame of faith, because the things which are seen were made by the things which don't appear. I know it isn't what you pictured. I know it isn't what you planned. Do you remember when we were in the nursing home for Thanksgiving? My dad was 62, something like that…62 years old in a nursing home, not because we didn't want to keep him. It was so tense in our family that he decided he wouldn't want to live with any of us. We couldn't take care of him. He had Lou Gehrig's disease, and we tried to take care of him. We couldn't take care of him. We were eating microwaved Thanksgiving in the nursing home with my dad, knowing good and well we wanted him in our house, and nobody was on speaking terms. You talk about awkward. Ham doesn't taste right when you try to microwave it. None of us pictured this. I know you didn't picture this. God isn't building your picture; he's building his purpose.
So, Joseph, Joe, did you know? Joseph would say, "No. Nuh-uh. I just believed". I had one thing in mind; God had another thing in store. I went with God, God went with me, and I have what I need in the box to be the picture he created in his heart. So, no, I'm not trying to build somebody else's life or somebody else's idea of what I'm supposed to be. Not anymore. I tried that. It is so stressful. I can't afford the doctor bill or the stomach medicine for that kind of living. I have to build what God put inside of me for the picture that he sees, and the world is the frame. Switch the picture. Be who God called you to be. Celebrate what he gave you. Pull everything close that you still have left. Wrap your arms around it. Make the most of it. Switch the picture.
Yeah, it's going to be a different Christmas for some of us. I understand that, but God pictured it all along. Do you know when Isaiah said, "A virgin will conceive"? He saw that hundreds of years before it happened. God was already building the picture. Forty-two generations, and God knew the picture. If you get too tightly zoomed into this one scene or this one moment or this one struggle or this one issue, you're going to miss the bigger picture. God knows where to put you. He knows what he put in you, and he knows what he wants to do through you. So take Mary home by faith and do what the angel of the Lord commanded you to do, not what you feel or what you thought. Switch the picture.