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Watch 2022 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - Devil You've Held Me Long Enough

Steven Furtick - Devil You've Held Me Long Enough

Steven Furtick - Devil You've Held Me Long Enough
TOPICS: New Year, Freedom

Are you ready for my first sermon of 2022? Are you sure? You don't know what I'm going to say yet. Are you sure you're ready? Tell them, "You can't handle the truth". That's kind of on subject for today. John, chapter 8, verse 31. Listen to this crazy confrontation between Jesus and the crowd of people who have gathered to hear him teach. John 8:31: "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' They answered him, 'We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?' Jesus replied, 'Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham's descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word.'"

You thought it was just your closet that was cluttered. No, it's more than just physical spaces we have to clear out. He said, "You have no room for my word". Wow! This is getting intense here, Jesus. "'I am telling you what I have seen in the Father's presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.' 'Abraham is our father,' they answered. 'If you were Abraham's children,' said Jesus, 'then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.' 'We are not illegitimate children,' they protested". Can you feel a fight fixin' to break out? I kind of want to sneak out of the room before this gets violent. "'The only Father we have is God himself.' Jesus said to them, 'If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil…'"

Jesus, let's think this through before we say something we can't take back. This is not good for your popularity rating. You know what I'm saying, Jesus? Little baby Jesus, little gentle Jesus. Oh man! The truth is confrontational. He said, "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar…" This is the message God said to give you for the first Sunday sermon of this year. Are you ready? He told me to tell you just like this: the Devil has held you long enough. They didn't believe it when I said it. Maybe if you say it to them. Look at the person next to you right in their eyeballs, right in their pupils. Tell them, "The Devil has held you long enough". They didn't believe you either. Maybe you need to say it for yourself. Let's try it like this. Say this out loud. "Devil, you've held me long enough"! That felt better. The truth will set you free.

It's an amazing thing, you know, the way the Devil gets us in these tight spaces and makes us think the best part of our lives is over and there's nothing we can do and we might as well not even try. When we say, "The Devil is a liar," of course we don't mean he runs around with a plastic pitchfork telling you stuff you know on the surface to be untrue. The way he operates is by deception, which means the Devil specializes in saying things that sound true. He's slick with it. He says it in such a way that you don't even know it's him saying it. When the Devil talks, it sounds like your voice, doesn't it? When the Devil talks, it sounds the same way as when God talks, because it's happening inside of you. God doesn't speak to me through out-loud voices. Neither does the Devil, except sometimes when I'm watching the news and stuff. Then I hear him just right out loud. But apart from that, it's the Devil's job to keep you from even knowing.

I used to read this verse… I'm going to give you an example of this. Okay? We take the Bible, and we want a verse of the day, and then we don't even read the whole verse of the day. We just want the half verse of the day, and we start going through Scripture like it's a salad bar, and I don't like radishes. The problem with that is you'll hear a verse and think it's true, and it is true, but it's not totally true, because it said, "The truth will set you free…" How many have heard that before? Raise your hand. It didn't just say, "The truth will set you free". I noticed some of you were with me when I was reading my passage. He said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free". You have to watch culture, because the Enemy will use language that is common in culture in order to get you to think you understand a concept that, really, you have become blind to the reality of.

I told my kids the other day, "Stop saying that certain celebrities got canceled in my house. I don't like the word canceled, because the fact of the matter is you use that term all the time interchangeably to mean people are saying something bad about them. I've had people say bad things about me, but I'm not canceled. I'm still called". I don't know if they're annoyed with this or not, but I don't let them say that in my house anymore. I mean, they still say it, because what am I going to do about it, but I tell them to stop. I'm just being real. "I told them they shall not, and they did not". No, no. They still do it, but I tell them, "Stop saying that".

A few years ago, I started hearing this cultural phrase. I didn't know why at first that it… It sounded good on the surface, but to me it felt like… There was something about this phrase that while it sounded very good and even scriptural on the surface… I first heard it from somebody… They said, "I have to live my truth". I didn't know why I didn't like it, because it sounds good. Right? "Be true to my values. I've got to do what I'm supposed to do". The more I thought about it… I started hearing it more and more. How many of you have heard this before? Like, "I've got to speak my truth". I think that's good if what we mean by that is "I have to share the experiences I've had in an honest way. I have to face things I've been through, and sometimes in sharing what I've been through that I used to be ashamed of, somebody else can be set free".

I think that's awesome. If that's what you mean when you say, "Live my truth" or "Speak my truth," I think it's good. I think what bothered me about it was John 8:32 where Jesus did not say, "Your truth will set you free". Put it back up. Let's check just to make sure. "Then you will know your truth…" I think why I didn't like the phrase is because it made truth sound like shoes. It made truth sound like something you can try on… It's too early in the year for this. I should be preaching something like, "You can make it. Keep your head up". It bothers me because truth is not choosable. Really, when we say, "Oh, this is my truth," what we're talking about is our belief. There's a big difference between a belief and a truth. You don't believe me? That doesn't make it untrue. What if I believed that all tall people are arrogant because I met this tall guy one time, and he was kind of prideful and cocky?

That's an experience. It's a personal experience, but that doesn't make it an absolute truth. What I'm noticing a lot of in my own life… I'm not just talking about people or culture or others. I'm not just talking about magazines or books. I'm not talking about you and your house. I'm talking about me and my heart. A lot of times, it seems like I'm tempted to turn a personal experience into an absolute truth. Have you ever had a bad haircut? Now, y'all be careful about this one, because my dad was a barber and he's in heaven, so be nice. Are barbers bad? You're like, "This is really stupid, man. We did not come all the way out here with the virus going around to hear you tell us this". No. You've done it with church before. "Oh, church people are hypocrites". No, no, no. Charlie was a hypocrite. "All men are dogs". No. Mike was a dog. It wasn't church people.

But now watch what you did. You went to a restaurant. You had a bad server, and now you decided to stop eating. You went to one church. You had a bad experience, and then you stopped… Not you. You're here. I'm not talking to you. I'm talking to them. You had one experience with failure. You set out to do something, and it didn't work, so then you turned the event, the failure, into an identity. "I'm a failure". So, what I want to know today is…Is it a truth or is it a trap? When Jesus said, "The truth will set you free," he wasn't talking to drug lords. When Jesus said, "The truth will set you free," he wasn't talking to gangbangers. When Jesus said, "The truth will set you free," he wasn't talking to pagans. He was talking to the Jews who had believed him. He's talking to people who believe him, and he's telling them they don't have the truth. They only have a certain level of belief. There's a big difference between belief and truth. Belief is based on your experience. Truth comes from God. Beliefs can be altered. Beliefs can grow and expand and should.

Let's talk about this. There was a time in your life where most of you believed that somebody came into your house and gave you money for your teeth when they fell out. That made perfect sense to you. "This is probably worth about $5. I'll put it under my pillow". Holly got Abbey up to $10, and I cut the tooth fairy out. I just pulled her aside and said, "It's not real". It was getting too expensive. It got too expensive for me not to tell her the truth. Have you come to the point yet where it has cost you enough to be stuck in a belief about who you are and what life is and what they did? Has the Devil held you long enough? For some of us, nothing in our lives will change this year because we are not sick enough of the way it was last year. We are not sick enough of it yet. We are like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness.

Now, I studied all about this Scripture today that I'm sharing with you about these Jews who believed in Jesus enough to know that they were not immoral, ungodly addicts. This was not a case of them needing to give up their sin. It was a case of them needing to give up their story. There's a confluence in the text of what Jesus is teaching about and when he's teaching it. I really want to teach more this year. Okay? I'm fine to inspire you, but I sure don't want to get up here and just give you Christian cocaine that makes you feel high for an hour and a half and then just drops you off. I want to give you something you can carry out of here and be strengthened in faith. I want to give you food you can live off of for days. You can go back and study.

One thing about the cliches we quote is that when we understand the context… In this passage, Jesus is talking to the Jews who believed him, and he is challenging their belief that it doesn't go deep enough, which means they believed in his signs, but they did not commit to his teaching. They liked listening to his message, but it wasn't made flesh in their life. The people he was talking to were people like you and me who believed in him, but he was telling them it is possible to believe and still not be free indeed. This is one thing we all have to understand. It is impossible for you to live in a sustainable way above the level you are willing to believe God at, because eventually, you will either shrink your belief down to the level of your experience or allow God to expand your belief to the level of his promise. Which one is happening in your heart so far this year?

"I don't know yet, Pastor. It has only been a week". That's long enough. You know it about a week in. Are you shrinking what you think God can do, will do, is going to do? Are you shrinking your belief to the level of your experience or are you allowing God to raise your experience up to the level of his power? Jesus was talking to the Jews who believed in him, and he said, "If you hold to my teaching and be my disciples, then you'll know the truth, and the truth will set you free".

I remember one January when I was a little boy I walked in on my mom and dad… Oh, hold on. I walked in, and my mom and dad were… How many of y'all remember Jane Fonda VHS workout tapes? They were watching Jane Fonda VHS workout tapes and…this is the kicker…eating a bowl of ice cream. It scarred me for life. I walked in and saw them watching Jane Fonda, eating ice cream. I will never forget that. I can't remember my kids' names most days in the correct order, but I will never forget watching them watch a workout eating ice cream. Now I think about it every time I preach, because I wonder, "Will this work if you just watch me do it"? I don't even look as good as Jane Fonda. I'm not even that attractive. I'm not wearing tights for y'all, yet there is a sense in which we live… Now this is the lie. This is how crafty the Devil is. "If you knew more, you could do more". Nuh-uh. He didn't say, "If you would know more truth, it would set you free". He said, "If you hold to my teaching, you will be my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free".

So, if I knew, I would do. No, no, no. If you would do, you would know. How many of you have had the thought in the last two years, "I just don't know what to do"? You've thought that. "I don't know what to do". Everybody whose hand didn't go up when I asked that question, I need to have a consultation with you either to cast out that devil of lying or to pay you to tell me the future. I'm going to ask again, because I think y'all are asleep on me. How many of you have had the thought, "I just don't know what to do"? Raise your hand. Raise it online. All right. Yes, you do. You know what to do with the truth you have been given, but we don't want to hold to the teaching Jesus gave us when it's hard to hear or when it makes us confront ourselves. He said to the Jews who believed in him, "You are so addicted to the lies you don't want to hold on to the truth".

You know, a lot of times when I'm asking God to change me and my life, and God is telling me to hold on to the teaching, I picture myself… Come here, Elijah. I picture it like this. A simple picture God gave me, the simplest picture in the world. This is my oldest son I was telling you about, how we work out together in the POUND. Now listen. I can still out-bench him, out-squat him, and all that stuff. He's taller than me, but that doesn't mean he can take me. All right? The Devil is a liar, the Father of Lies. When we go in the gym, I try to train him, not only in weights, but I try to train him in truth. "Hey, man. There's some stuff God has put in you, and the lies you believe can become a lid on your life. They can become a limitation. The first thing I have to teach you is lie detection so you'll even know it's happening, because it'll sound so true". Yet all the time, Jesus is saying, "You will know the truth, hold to the truth, and the truth will set you free".

Let's stand over here where everybody can see us. You stand there. I'll stand here. Just picture this. This is the truth. This is the Word of God. This is the Bible, 66 books. It's all true, from the book of Genesis to the maps in the back. I saw it like this. He said, "If you hold to my teaching, you really are my disciples, and then you will know…" So, you have to hold it to know it. Not hear it…hold it. That means it is not the Word I preach that sets you free; it is the Word you practice. That's where it happens. When I speak something from God… It doesn't come from me. If it comes from me, it's empty calories. It's Breyers ice cream if it comes from me, but if it comes from God and it comes through me and the Spirit of God speaks, whether it's in a sermon or in your life or something God shows you over and over again or something he speaks through your wife… Not every word from God comes through somebody with a collar. Not every word from God comes on a Sunday morning, but when God speaks to you… "You know that was harsh. You know you're being stubborn right now. You know you just think you need to be right right now". When God corrects you with that… "Well, the Lord is loving".

Did you hear Jesus in John 8? He said, "This is your father the Devil speaking through you". Okay? People are too coddled. We have this coddled Christianity, where we come up alongside people and always just teach them, "God will give you grace every time you screw up". What about teaching me how to get better so I don't screw up so much? Huh? Is there an axe that can chop this thing down at the root? Because I want truth! I don't just want to pop God's promises like pills to take the pain away. I want to make progress in my life to see things how they are and to not have to live in denial. Listen, saints of God. Jesus is talking to the Jews who believed him. They thought they had the way of life that honored God, and they didn't know the truth, and it was standing right in front of them. He said, "You can't hear it, and if you will hold to my teaching…" That's what sets you free. The problem is… Come here. Bring me out what I gave you earlier. I told him, "This is so simple. The church is going to laugh at me. They're going to think, 'Oh, Pastor didn't have time to study this week. He had to bring out the props.'"

I saw it like this, because I keep seeing people who can't hold the truth, and I wonder why you can't even hold… Some of us can't even hold a compliment for 10 minutes. We can't hold it. Some of us… The Lord can give us a really good direction. We can know he spoke to us, and we can sense where God has us, and we can't… Has anybody other than me noticed your attention span is getting almost zero these days? Does that have anything to do with the technology by which advertisers are rewarded for disrupting our attention and redirecting it to some product they hope for us to buy or some truth they hope for us to consume? We can't even hold the truth anymore. It's kind of hard to have room for truth holding on to trash. This is the illustration. But, son, I need you to know it's really hard for you to hear from the Holy Ghost if you scroll six hours on TikTok. I sound like an old man right now. Forgive me, Lord. I sound 83 right now. I'm trying to tell you that you can't hold truth and hold trash.

So, what are we going to do? How many need to be set free in an identifiable, specific area of your life this year? "I need freedom". I don't know what you need freedom from. God does. The Holy Spirit does, and really deep down, you do. You know exactly what it is…the compulsion, the obsession, the addiction, the torment. You know exactly what you need free from. Now, the Scripture says who you'll be set free by. You'll be set free by the Son. You'll be set free by the truth, but that doesn't mean Jesus automatically sets you free just because you believe in him. Jesus sets you free as you hold to his teaching. The first thing to hold to his teaching… I'm going to throw this again on three. One, two, three. Do you see what he did? He did it at the very last minute, but he knew enough that when I threw him the truth, he dropped the trash to hold the truth. He almost didn't. He was confused for a moment, because he thought he was doing something important standing up here, but when the truth comes…

Now this is the year. You know the Devil has held you long enough. The Devil has held you long enough. You have been holding on to the hurt long enough. This year… I prophesy it in Jesus' name, in the name of Jesus the Nazarene, the way, the truth, the life. We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth! So, when the truth came, I had to drop the trash to hold the truth. O God. The problem was you thought this was true, because the Devil lied to you so good… He started telling you you're trash, and you started thinking it was truth, because he got you into an experience and turned it into a belief, and now you call it your truth. Look at me. The Devil is so crafty. I don't like to give so much time to the Devil, but it was in the passage, and that's why I'm addressing it directly. Okay? Understand, I don't want to give the Devil too much credit, but Jesus said the problem of this is that your desires have been informed by the lies of the Devil, so it's coming from him.

So, now he has you locked into… The truth will set you free. Well, that means a lie can keep you bound, but only if he gets you to think it's true. Satan means accuser. That's the Enemy's job. He's the accuser of the brethren. So, imagine if you're Satan and you can convince somebody God has called his inheritance, somebody God has called his precious possession, his masterpiece, his workmanship, a saint… Imagine if you can convince somebody Jesus died for that they're worthless or that they are trash. Maybe you do it… I don't know. Maybe you do it with the suggestion of rejection. "You know, the reason they left you is because there's something lacking about you". Again, let's be balanced. Sometimes relationships end because we could have been more responsible, more thoughtful. We want to analyze that, but to take the lessons you could learn from the end of a relationship and turn it into a personal judgment… "The reason people leave is because I'm unlovable". Before you know it, you start to treasure the trash more than the truth, because this feels familiar to you.

I always worried about Elijah when he was little because his favorite Sesame Street character was Oscar the Grouch. I started praying for him early. I'd pray in tongues. I'd pray in Latin. I'd pray in Greek and Aramaic, because it would bother me. All of the kids would be at the playground going around on the monkey bars and the jungle gym and the sandbox, and he'd be looking in all of the trash cans around the playground, looking for Oscar. I didn't want him to turn 16 or 18 looking in trash cans, you know, looking in backward ways of thinking or thinking that being famous is where it's at, when really that's just another trash can that's diamond studded. There are gold-plated trash cans. I didn't want him looking for treasure in the trash. Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching…" I need Jesus to teach me. I don't just need him to save me from my sin. I need him to teach me his ways, not just so I can be saved from my sin. He said, "If you sin, you're a slave to sin".

There's an interesting phrase in the Scripture. He said, "You call yourself Abraham's children, and you are technically the descendants of Abraham". He was the one God spoke to and said, "Go to the land I'll show you," and the whole nation came out of him. Even though his wife was beyond childbearing years, God can do the impossible, because no word from God will ever fail. If he speaks it, it's true even if the facts say otherwise. Jesus did not say, "The facts will set you free". He said, "The truth will set you free". Goliath might be 9'9" but the truth is "You come against me with a spear. I come against you in the name of the Lord". The truth is we're surrounded. Do you remember the prophet said, "There are more with us than with them," and he prayed, "God, open the eyes of my servant that he may see"? The facts said there's no way out of this, but the truth from a point of view that can see with spiritual eyes… I'm seated in heavenly places with Jesus.

So, there's a big difference between facts and truth. There's a big difference between feelings and truth. Many of you think, "If I feel it, it's true". Or here's worse: "If I think it, it must be true". I promise you… I don't even know how smart you are. I don't care if you went to Harvard. I don't care if you dropped out of Harvard to go to Yale. I don't care how much intelligence you have in your life. You cannot believe everything you think. One Scripture said, "As high as the heavens are above the earth, so are God's ways above your ways and his thoughts above your thoughts". The truth will set you free if you hold to it. Jesus was talking to people who identified themselves with Abraham. They said, "We're Abraham's children". He said, "You're not acting like it. You're trying to kill me. You believe in my signs, but you don't hold to my teachings. You think of me in a superstitious way, but you don't allow me to get into the BS, the belief systems, of your heart".

I'm going to wake y'all up today. This is a New Year's sermon. New year, new you. No, no, no. New year, new truth. Not your truth. Your truth has you trapped in the wilderness. He said, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do what Abraham did". If you were, you would do. If you were (identity), you would do (behavior). Identity drives behavior. If you see yourself as trash, you cannot hold to truth. That's where you've been. Don't you see it? Every time you go to change… There are two lies when you go to change. First, you can't change. Second, you don't need to. Either way, the Devil has you trapped. "Oh, no. They need to change. They need to do it differently. They need to appreciate me". No, you need to be less needy. Truth. Truth to power. The Lord is calling you to freedom. The Devil has held you long enough in a lie. A sermon can't set you free. Decisions do. Decisions to do what? To be a disciple. "Teach me, Holy Spirit".

Only God knows the truth about you. Even your parents can't fully see your potential. They're too busy trying to keep you from getting in a car wreck. I'm serious. There will be things in my kids I can't see in them that their heavenly Father can. It's not my job to limit God. There are things nobody has seen in you. You talk about BS. You have blind spots. You can't see them, but God does. But now you've squeezed your whole belief into an experience. "Well, somebody God really could use would never do this and that". You know Moses was a murderer. Right? You know David had one of his main warriors killed in battle. The one who wrote the little psalmy songs we like to sing, man after God's own heart. You're not trash. You just need new truth. I kind of see some of the things you did before like baby teeth. Baby truth. It has to fall out for this new thing to grow. There's no truth fairy coming around to your house to give you $10 for it either. All right?

In fact, the Devil is so crafty and so lazy, he convinces you that you're trash, that you can't trust God, that it's over, and then he's so good at his job he delegates it to you, and you start collecting evidence for why he's right. If he's good enough at his job, he will convince you "This is who you are. This is all you can be. This is why that happened to you". Some of you, people did things to you… You didn't even do it to you, and now you feel ashamed about it. How in hell do you believe that? I'm not cussing. How has hell, how has the Devil gotten so strategically in your mind that you think somebody did something to you and that makes you dirty? The Devil is a liar. I'm clean. Even if I did it, I'm still clean, because I've been through the waters and it's under the blood of Jesus. That's my truth. It doesn't come from me. Don't do the Devil's job for him, just finding reasons why you should feel bad. "Oh, well, now I'm just in the market for misery".

Now he doesn't even have to lie to me. I'm on autopilot. I'm just collecting lies to support the truth he told me. He told me it was my truth, and this is how high I can go, and this is all I can do, and this is all I'll ever be, and this is why it happened, and God is not with me, and, O God, 2022 is going to be 2020 part 2. Shut up! If the Devil is going to lie, make him log his own hours. Don't help him! You know what I'm saying? Don't help him! I dare you to delete the app. I dare you to block the number. I dare you. Touch three people and tell them, "I dare you to drop it". I dare you to let God prune your… The Devil has held you long enough! The Devil is a liar, and he's on a leash. He can't do it forever.

If the Son shall set you free… You have to drop something to receive something. You have to drop something to do something. You have to drop something to be somebody. I'm a child of God, baby! I've got the truth! I'm set free! Hey, Devil, do you hear that? Get under my feet! You've held me long enough! I'm 41. That's long enough. I'm 12. That's long enough. I'm 67. That's long enough. I'm tired of this. I'm tired of trading the truth of God for a personal experience and worshiping at the altar of my background. I'm tired of shrinking my life to the level of what I've seen or heard from others that is possible. Like I'm on a ski, I'm going to hold on to Jesus. I'm going to hold on this year. I read where Peter tried to hold on, and he couldn't ski, so Jesus picked him up. If I can't hold on to him, he'll hold on to me, but it only happens when you decide "Long enough".

Jesus is talking to people who believe him, but they're still not free. They're not bad, but they're deceived. You're not bad; you're deceived. You have no room for his Word. It could be your schedule. You have so many lies… Y'all, when I was holding that trash bag, I felt like in your trash bag there might be offenses. There might be memories. You like to lie to yourself after a while. It excuses you, because if you're trash, you get to act like it. If you are nobody, you don't have to do anything different. If you're a child of God, that means now you will want to live like him. I'm still naïve enough to believe there are at least 30 people in this room or maybe even online or maybe even at one of our other locations (Lake Norman is having an anniversary today; maybe it's Lake Norman) who are ready to trade the trash for the truth, who don't want to run around the playground another year looking for Oscar, who don't want to spend another 40 years in the wilderness. It's long enough.

"The wilderness. What does that have to do with John, chapter 8? That's the Old Testament, the wilderness". Not really. It all goes together, because Jesus is teaching at the festival called the Festival of Tabernacles. That's the context of John 8. Remember when he fed the 5,000 in John 6? Five thousand men and women and children. Pretty cool. John, chapter 7, is really different, though, because John, chapter 6, is about how God feeds you. John, chapters 7 and 8, are about how God frees you. If I just sit around asking God, "Feed me, feed me, feed me. Bless me, bless me, bless me. Pay it off, pay it off, pay it off. Fix it, fix it, fix it. Make a way, make a way, make a way…" That only gets you so far. You can believe God does those things for you, and he will, but now it's about freedom. I want to be free this year. I want to be more free of what people think about me. I don't know I can get there or not. I still think all of those things. "I hope they like it. Nobody said anything. Is it okay"?

I've been a slave to that long enough. I'm sick of it. It's boring. It's old. I know how that movie goes. They don't pay attention because they're thinking about themselves. I'm sick of that. I'm sick of being a slave to my feelings. I'm sick of that. I'm sick of being a slave to cynicism. I can tell you 13 ways it's going to go wrong. I'm sick of that. Been there, done that, bought the tee shirt, took it back because it didn't fit. I'm sick of being cynical. So, what does the wilderness have to do with if the truth will set you free, you will be free indeed? When Jesus went to this festival, the Festival of Tabernacles, or the Festival of Shelters… It's a weeklong festival. He comes right in the middle of the festival. It was a festival after the harvest where they came together to celebrate and commemorate when God brought his people out of Egypt, and then in the wilderness they decided to believe the report of the spies who said, "We can't go in" rather than to believe what God had spoken and take the land by faith. That's the context. Do you follow me?

That's the context of John, chapters 7 and 8. So, as Jesus is teaching this truth, it's in the middle of a festival where in order to commemorate this time when God led his people through the wilderness for 40 years… They stayed in Egypt 400 years. They came out through the wilderness and were only supposed to be there for 11 days. Look at this in Deuteronomy, chapter 1. It says, "These are the words Moses [the servant of the Lord] spoke to all Israel in the wilderness east of the Jordan…" Then there are a bunch of different places it mentions, but I want you to see this next verse, verse 2. "It takes eleven days to go from Horeb [the mountain of God where the covenant was given] to Kadesh Barnea…"

That's where he sent the spies out to go into the land. How long does it take to go from Horeb, the mountain, to the Promised Land? Eleven days. You could almost skip right over that, and it would be insignificant. I could have stopped this sermon while we were shouting, but I need to show you this, because it is the context of freedom. It takes 11 days to get from where they were to where God was taking them by the Mount Seir road, but look at verse 3. In the fortieth year is when Moses prepared them to go in. How did they turn an 11-day journey through the wilderness into a 40-year wandering where they were stuck? Because of what they believed. Because they would not believe the truth. The truth is we can do it if God is for us. Our enemies don't stand a chance. The truth is God is melting down your enemies' defense even as we speak.

If God is for you, who can be against you? That's the truth. Ah, but the facts… "Oh, they're bigger than us. They're stronger than us. We can't do it. We're not prepared for this". You are staying in frustration 40 years because of what the facts are saying to you when faith could get you there in 11 days. After 40 years, Joshua led the people there, but it didn't have to take 40 years, and it doesn't have to take you 40 years. You don't have to pass it on to your kids, and you don't have to live like this until you die and hope to get to heaven one day and a mansion in glory. If the Son sets you free, you will be free if you hold to the teaching.

Stop holding to the trash. The moment you do this, God is going to start doing this. What you've wandered in for 40 years God can bring you out of in 11 days. Let he who has an ear hear what the Spirit is saying today. The Devil has held you long enough in your truth. It's time for God's truth. Let this year be the year where you trade trash for truth. Let this year be the year that you let the surgeon get inside of you and tell you what needs to be cut out. You keep doing surgery on yourself. That's why you bled all over us all 2021. Let this year be the year the Great Physician writes your prescription. I'm going to tune my heart to truth this year. God help me. In music they call it A440. That's standard tuning. That's the note you tune the instrument to.

The Lord wants you to start your day tuning your heart to truth where you can hear. Most of our days… Hit a bunch of keys where it sounds ugly, LJ. You start your day tuning your heart to so much trash that no wonder it sounds like chaos before you've even had your caffeine. So, this year starts with what God says. I'm not walking around in circles 40 years what God can bring me through in 11 days. I'm not doing it. So, what is God teaching you right now? What did he teach you the hard way last year? Are you going to hold on to the lesson or live in the pain of it?

Father, your Word is truth, and you're seeking worshipers who will worship you in spirit and in truth. You brought your people out of Egypt only for them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. I'm afraid that happens to so many of us. We believe in you. We believe in God. We love you. We want to trust you, but we have so much trash we think is true, so many feelings we put our faith in, so many fears we receive as evidence. Well, this year, Lord, you told me to make a declaration from this pulpit, and I'm going to make it now to everybody who will hear this message, whenever they hear it, God, if it's right now, if it's in a week, if it's in five years.

The Devil has held you long enough. The lies have held you long enough. That's it now. We speak the truth of Jesus Christ into your life that you are more than a conqueror through him who loves you. We speak the truth of Jesus Christ in your life that greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world. We speak the truth of Jesus Christ into your life that you don't have to stay in guilt and shame, clutching tightly to the events of the past or the bitterness over what was done. If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. So, everybody who wants to put your faith in this Word of God say, "That's enough". All of the lies that have been terrorizing your mind, things that have happened, will happen, might happen… "That's enough. The Son has set me free, and I'm holding on to what God showed me going into this next moment, this next tomorrow, this next season. I am free indeed".

Everyone standing, hands lifted high, just like you're releasing all of the things you're worried about. You're releasing all of the things you can't control. You're releasing all of the things you can't see, you can't make sense of. "I'm releasing that. God, I want to hear truth from you. Yeah, I want to hear truth from you. I don't want to let my trauma become my truth. I don't want to let my trials become my truth. You are my truth, my way, and my life".

Father, see how our hands are right now? That's how we're becoming before you, wide open to you. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Lord, we don't just want you to feed us this year; we want you to free us this year. We need you, Lord. We don't know what's true. There are so many accounts and so many things to scroll through. We need you. Let your Word be our mirror. Let your promise be our North Star. Your Word is truth, and we're holding on for dear life this year. In Jesus' name, our teacher, our preacher, our Savior.

If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I need you to find eight people and tell them, "The Devil has held you long enough". And the God of all grace, after you have suffered a little while… Come on. It has been a little while. You cried a little while, stayed a little longer than you should have. Somebody declare it. "Devil…hey, Devil, you've held me long enough"! Now drop a praise on his head. Drop it right now! Come on, 22 seconds of praise! Give him praise!
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