In “God Is Working Through Your Enemies,” Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church reveals how God often uses our negative circumstances to create positive change.
The question is…What do you do
when God bypasses what you want
to give you what you need? The most
obvious thing to do is to heal the man.
But sometimes before God can do what is obvious
and change your situation he wants to work
within you so that when he changes
your situation you will be ready
to receive it. In the Jewish mind, sin
and suffering were highly connected,
so it was often assumed that if you
were suffering it was because of sin.
Jesus dispels this in John, chapter 9, when the
man born blind was declared to be not a sinner
but blind so that the works of God and
the glory of God might be revealed.
We can’t always connect situations with
behavior. Yet it’s something he said.
“Before I do anything for you
I want to do something in you.”
That’s where it takes faith,
because it’s the substance
of things hoped for and the evidence of
things not seen, to know that God is working.
Do you know who I thank God for in this
passage? I thank God this man had friends
who believed for him what he might not
have been able to believe for himself.
If I were preaching this at YTHX (it
used to be called Student Takeover),
I would preach the message around “Who
are your four?” That’s really important.
Who are your four? You have
to have the right four.
The wrong four would have dropped him off at the
door, but the right four were willing to put him
where he belonged at the feet of Jesus. Now are
they bringing you to Jesus or driving you away?
To me, they’re not the primary heroes in
the passage, because other than Jesus,
the most important people in the
passage are the people who doubted him.
I want you to notice something. Please pay
attention to this. It’s going to revolutionize
the way you see some of your resentments in life.
When Jesus saw what the friends did for the man
he forgave him, but the man was still on the
mat. When he heard the thoughts of the critics
(or we might say haters)… What the
haters thought got the man healed.
What his friends did got him forgiven. What his
haters thought got him healed. I thought I’d give
you 15 seconds to praise God for your haters. You
might want to do it. Did anybody ever doubt you?
Did anybody ever walk away from you?
Did anybody ever stop supporting you?
Did anybody ever walk away when it got
a little tight? Thank God right now.
Sometimes God will use Judas more than he uses
Peter. This is a messy message. This is a message
for the people who are ready to thank God not
just for the ways he blesses me that feel good,
but I thank him for my pain. I thank him for my
heartbreak. I thank him for my disappointment.
I thank him for my opposition. That’s the
second door. It’s the door of opposition.
One time Paul said, “I’m staying
in Ephesus a little while,
and the reason I’m staying is not because the
temperature is so great and the cuisine is so
wonderful. I’m staying because there is a great
and effective door of ministry God has opened
for me. And you know how I know there’s an open
door? Because there are many who oppose me.”
“The reason I know God is blessing is because the
Enemy is so busy, and he would not be busy if God
was not blessing me.” Come on, I’m going to give
you one more chance. Thank him for the conflict.
Thank him for the confusion. Thank him, thank him,
thank him. Thank him for the thorn. His grace is
sufficient. Thank him for the loneliness. Thank
him for the wilderness. Thank him for the noes.
If there had been no haters he wouldn’t have
gotten healed. If there had been no weakness
you wouldn’t be strong. If there had been
no resistance you wouldn’t be so resilient.
There are many who oppose me, but the opposition
proves the opportunity. Okay, investment terms.
The really good investments you don’t
know about unless you have money.
It’s a barrier to entry. The investments most of
us can invest in are not the best investments.
The best investments are reserved for people…
I’m saying this about money, but I mean it
about battles and trials. See, the biggest
battles are reserved for the people God
has his hand on who he put a deposit in,
and you cannot be defeated, because if
he opened the door nobody can shut it.
So quit blaming your haters and
write them a thank you note.
Remember that youth pastor who stood up at Inside
Elevation? He said, “There are a lot of critics.
I’m just getting started in ministry. What do I
do about the critics?” This is what I said to him.
“Sit down this week and write
three thank you notes to them.
From experience, I know God will use some of
that stuff to strip away your self-sufficiency.
If everybody is clapping for you…
The crowd is not always your friend.
So write them a thank you note.”
Honestly, every time we have a baptism in the
church I think about it, because the only reason
we do baptisms every week instead of two or
three times a year, like we did for years,
is because of that news story they ran about us
where they said we fake baptisms in the church. I
still don’t know exactly what a fake baptism looks
like, but I don’t care because it gave me an idea.
If you’re going to hit us at the point of
our baptisms, what we’ll do is not two or
three times a year, but how about if every
single week we put it in the Devil’s face
that you can’t stop… When God opens a
door… I don’t even care what they say.
While we’re at it, let’s ban the word hater,
because most of us don’t have haters; we
just have people who don’t agree with us
and we label that haters. Your coach is not your
hater because he is not going to play you right
now. Your coach is a trainer. He is teaching
you that you are not good enough yet to get
playing time, Timmy. The reason, Timmy, you’re
not playing is because you’re not a player yet.
So thank your coach. He’s not a hater; he’s
teaching you to be a player. You need to thank
that boss who was hard on you. “My boss is a
hater.” No, you’re late to work. Your boss is
not a hater because she expects you to be on time.
(I saw a supervisor just getting some praise right
there on the eighth row at Ballantyne.) Thank God
for it, because the opposition is the opportunity.
I’m so anointed to say this to you right now.
It feels like a freight train. This word is
coming through the roof. It’s coming through
the teachers of the law. Jesus is preaching.
Jesus is healing. Nothing can stop it.
Jesus is preaching. Jesus is healing. Nothing
can stop it, and he uses the opposition to bring
the man healing. What is God using in your life
right now that you are trying to get away from?
There’s another door, and
this door is called obedience.
The first door is disappointment. The second
one is opposition. This one is obedience.
It is the kind of obedience that has to trust God
in an impossible situation. See,
what the friends did got the man forgiven, but
there was something he had to do to be healed.
It is by grace we are saved through faith.
It’s the gift of God. It’s not of works.
But faith expresses itself in works.
Jesus said, “So that they may know who
I am… It’s not even about you anymore,
and it’s not about your dysfunction. It’s
not about your limitation. Not anymore.
This is bigger than you. So I
want you to do what you can’t do.
I want you to do what you’ve never been
able to do, and the proof of my presence
is going to be in enabling
you to do something practical.
Get up. Take that thing they carried
you in and lowered you down on.
What you came in on you’re going out with, but
instead of it holding you, you’ll be holding it.”
Help me, God. Help me right now, because
somebody is still lying on that mat.
You have resurrection power on the inside of you.
It’s on the inside of you, but you have to
walk it out. That man came in through the roof,
but he left out the same door they
wouldn’t let him through when he got there.
What I’m declaring today by the Spirit of
God is if you will get up, you can get up.
If you will forgive, you can forgive. If you will
be whole… I’m not saying the mat will go away.
I’m saying you will not
spend the rest of your life
lying down on it and blaming
others for the condition you’re in.
So get up in front of all of these other people.
Think about the courage
this demonstration requires.
The people who are watching this man are not even
cheering for him. They don’t even like the fact
that he interrupted the service and that Jesus
thinks he can forgive him. So now he has to get
up and walk in front of people who don’t want him
to. Now he has to get up and take his first steps…
When most of us took our first steps somebody
was cheering us on, but he has to do it in
the face of conflict. He has to do it in the
face of doubt. He has to do it in the face of
critics. He has to do it in the face of people
who didn’t even want him in the room. I wonder
are you willing today… In the face of adversity,
in the face of weakness, and in the face of
everything that has been against your entire
family your whole life, will you get up?
Will you become a door? When God wants to show
people who he is, he picks somebody with an issue.
He wants to show who he is through you. There’s
another door. This is the door of revelation.
The people were not amazed when the roof came
off; they were amazed when the man got up.
They were not amazed even by Jesus’ preaching;
they were amazed by the man’s demonstration.
There are some of you who are about to become a
door for people to see Jesus through your life,
and here’s who he’s going to pick: the people
who were paralyzed who have made a decision.
“I may not be able to get rid of my issue,
but my issue is not keeping me from Jesus.”
See, there’s another door, and
when you’ve done all you can do
and have tried all you know to try and
self-help isn’t helping and people have
stopped believing in you a long time ago and,
truth be told, you’ve given up on yourself…
God called me to be like those four men and
carry you today and put you at the feet of
Jesus. Let me tell you about Jesus. Jesus
is not your average preacher. He is the way,
the truth, and the life. He is the resurrection.
He is the Good Shepherd. He is the true vine.
In John 10:9, when he got ready to say
who he was, he said, “I am the door.”
“So if you want to come in, come
on in. If religion locked you out,
come on in. If your sin kept you
out, come on in. I am the door,
and because I’m the door nothing can come
into your life without first going through me.
I’ve allowed some things in your
life you don’t like right now,
but don’t let them paralyze you another
day, because all I’m asking you to do
is walk through this door. That’s all I’m
asking you to do. I’m not asking you to be
perfect, but I do expect progress.
I am the door. Your ex-husband is not.
Your dad who wasn’t there is not. Your
own opinion of yourself is not. I am the door,
and when I open a door in your life, no mistake,
no sickness, no situation… Even
if they roll a stone to seal the
entrance on Friday, I am the door, and when
I speak ‘Get up,’ the resurrection power…”
Come on, praise is a door.
Give him some praise right now!
Don’t you miss this moment. This is the door!