In this message, Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church challenges us to release our expectations and make room for God to move in unexpected ways.

We want God to change stuff without changing
us, and that’s not how he does it.

Are you surprisable?

I was praying, “God, what do I tell them?”

He said, “Tell them ‘Stay surprisable.'”

Keep some room in what you plan for your life,
your kid’s life, and for all the trajectory,

where if God wants to do something a little

This is the lesson Peter learned.

By the time he has gotten to this point in
his ministry, he’s full of the Holy Spirit.

He has seen the empty tomb.

He has been restored when he left Jesus at
the cross.

He’s no longer surprised at his own weakness,
but he’s confident in God’s strength.

He’s no longer surprised by his own weakness,
but he is confident in God’s strength.

That’s a whole turkey word for somebody.

Stop being so surprised by your weakness.

It’s there.

It’s always going to be there.

You are but dust, the King James says.

You are nothing more than a breath and a vapor,
but God’s Word is eternal, and he lives in


That’s why Peter said, “Why are you looking
at us?

We didn’t do it.

We just accessed the power of one who could.”

Stay surprisable.

Some of y’all…

Do y’all want the marriage seminar part?

Stop thinking you completely know what your
wife would and wouldn’t want to do.

You’re so boring.

I’m telling you, man.

I have been married a lot of years now.

How many?

It’s coming up on 20.

Yeah, 19 years.

(Y’all are like, “You’re in trouble.

You didn’t remember how many years you’ve
been married.”

I’m up here saying a lot of stuff.

She doesn’t care.)

When I tell you I’ve never loved being married
to her more…

I’m so glad I didn’t confine her to the first
version of what I thought I knew my wife was.

The first thing she told me at the North Greenville
cafeteria that I remember is “I would never

want to marry a preacher.”


“I’ll never preach.

I mean, I’ll support you.”

She’s good.


She surprises herself.

I caught her watching herself back preaching
the other day.

She said, “Oh, that’s good.”

Have you surprised yourself lately?

You have to surprise yourself.

Not only surprise your spouse, like, “Oh,
I gave you six flowers instead of four this


Not only that stuff.

Some of you need to surprise yourself.

Just do something, even if it’s small, that
you didn’t think you could do.

“I’m a night person.”

Go to bed.

“I’m not.

I’m a morning person.”

Sleep in.

You know what I mean?

Like, “Oh, wild and crazy.

I normally get it grilled.

I’m going to get it fried.

I’m full of surprises.

I’m crazy.”

I like to preach different ways.

I like to write different songs.

Somebody told me…

One time I wrote a song that had some rock
in it, and they were like, “Oh, black people

wouldn’t like that.”

The person who told me was white.

How do you know what black people will like
and not like?

Like there’s one person.

Stop telling me what somebody else would not
like or want, like you’ve figured out people.

I told a man one time we couldn’t have video
campuses and the only way my preaching works

is if people are in a room with me while I’m


One day I walked in and nobody was allowed
to come to church a year ago, and all I had

was the thing I didn’t think I could do.


It worked!

You might be surprised.

That sounds really cool when Peter is saying
it in verse 12 to the leaders.

This man gets up and walks, and he’s like,
“Why are you surprised?

Why does this surprise you?”

Well, come on, Peter.

When you first met Jesus and you caught fish,
it freaked you out so badly you fell at his

feet and said, “Go away, Lord.

I’m a sinful man.”

When he said, “I’m going to the cross,” you
said, “Never, Lord.

That won’t happen to you.”

When they actually arrested him, you were
so surprised you went and cowered to a servant

girl who said you were one of them.

This is something that takes us a little time.

You get conditioned to certain things.

If you have enough of the negative or the
dysfunctional things, you’ll be surprised

by the good.

Now I think that’s helpful sometimes.

I think sometimes we ought to be more surprised
and less entitled.

When Rick Bowling first gave me a bonus check…

He said, “You’re getting a Christmas bonus.”

It was the first church I worked at.

I bear hugged him.

The amount of money today…

It was so small compared to what things are
today it wouldn’t register like that.

I wouldn’t hug him.

I’d be like, “Thanks, man.”

What got me in the text…

I just was reading this again.

When you come to the Bible with fresh eyes,
it’s amazing.

God is wanting to surprise you in your Bible,
in your life, in your relationships.

He’s the God of surprises.

He’s talking to a woman at the well.

He’s doing amazing things, feeding multitudes
with little meager fish, Captain D’s supplies,

Long John Silver’s supplies.

He’s surprising, but sometimes we’re not surprisable.

It said once the man was able to walk, he
went with them in the temple courts (verse

8), walking, jumping, and praising God.

It caused such a commotion…

Everybody was amazed that this man they used
to see sitting was now walking, jumping, and

praising God, because he wasn’t expecting
to walk.

There’s a praise that comes out of somebody
who hasn’t learned yet to take God’s gifts

for granted.

How many people went to the temple that day?

Why weren’t they jumping?

Because when you’ve always been able to walk…

When you’ve always had provision, when you’ve
always had a roof over your head, when you’ve

always been well fed, when you’ve always been
taken care of, you stop being surprised by


One of my friends said you exchange appreciation
for expectation.

You start expecting people to do for you what
they don’t have to do for you.

That is very dangerous.

Every time I preach, I’m kind of surprised
that God actually uses me, and I think that’s


I don’t ever want to get to the point where
I’m like, “Well, I mean, I know my Bible.

Of course God used me.

I’m anointed.

I’m appointed.”


want to stay surprised.

Like, every once in a while, I just want to
take a deep breath and be like, “Oh, that

was a premium breath.”

I know you can’t walk around all the time
just praising God for every breath and skipping

through Walmart and things like this.

I’m not talking about being weird.

But there is a lesson in the fact that of
everybody who walked into the temple that

day, the one who had never walked before…

His feet barely touched the ground.

When you first got certain blessings from
God, when you first started being used by

God, when you first got on the Elevation staff,
your feet barely touched the ground.

Once in a while, you have to remember it’s
a blessing just to be able to walk.

It’s a blessing just to see another day.

It’s a blessing just to survive.

You will really understand this if you ever
went through a season where you thought you

wouldn’t make it.

If you haven’t had that season, you won’t
understand, but if you had a season where

you were living off alms, where you were begging
for something to make it to the next day,

but he got you up, snatched you up…

His mighty hand, his right hand, his hand
of authority.

If the name of Jesus came to you in your begging
place, you know what it means to jump.

You know why we call the church Elevation.

You know why we praise him.

You know why we smile with all of our teeth,
clothed, in our right mind, blessed to be

in the number one more day.

Stay amazed.

Stay surprised.

Jump every once in a while.

You don’t have to jump everywhere, but every
once in a while, just jump.

Just jump for joy.

Every once in a while, just appreciate the
fact that the lame will leap like a deer and

that God did that for you.

When you’ve always been able to walk, you
can’t really appreciate it, because you stop

being surprised.

God wants to surprise you.

He does this in strategic ways.

God is never more strategic than when you
are most surprised.

Peter had no plan to preach that day, and
he preached a sermon so powerful, because

God planted somebody at the gate.


Later in his life, he gives us a perspective
in 1 Peter 4.

He says that just like God surprises you with
great gifts and opportunities…

He said, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised
at the fiery trial.”

This is 1 Peter.

This is the same guy.

He kind of has this thing.

He’s like, “Why are you surprised that God
is healing this man?

This is what Jesus came to do.

You should know it more than anyone.

You recognized the man, but you didn’t recognize
the Messiah, so you are surprised when God

actually shows up because it does not look
like what you put on your list.”

Are you there right now in your life?

He said, “Don’t be surprised by the favor.

Don’t be surprised by the fire.”

Don’t be surprised when God strengthens you.

That’s what he’s there for.

He gave you his Spirit.

Don’t be surprised when you struggle.

And above all else, don’t let your struggle
keep you from accessing your strength.

“Silver and gold I don’t have, but what I
have I give you.”

And his feet and ankles became strong.

“Because,” Peter said, “the same Jesus you
killed, the author of life, God raised from

the dead.”

I like to imagine sometimes that the Devil
threw a big party after Jesus died and the

sky grew black.


It is finished.”

He thought Jesus gave up.

I like to imagine what it was like Sunday
morning when he was standing there with the

keys of death, hell, and the grave.


I want you to stand up right where you are,
and I want you to throw your arms out just

like this and tell the Devil, “Surprise!

You hit me with your best shot.

You formed every weapon against me.

You thought you killed my confidence by having
people reject me, but surprise!

You thought I would die in the valley of the
shadow of death.

You thought I would curse God and die, but

You thought it was going to be the end of

You thought you picked my marriage apart.

You thought you snatched my kid.

You thought getting him on drugs would get
me to stop praying for him, but surprise!”

It’s about to backfire, because the same man
who sat there begging was the one who started

a revival in Jerusalem.


You’re stronger than you thought you were.


It didn’t kill you.

It made you better.


You weren’t ready for it, but it’s here.


Into the hands of the God of surprises you
have the opportunity now to place all of your

uncertainty and all of your insecurity.

God said, “I want to surprise you.”

Every once in a while, when I get overwhelmed
by too many choices, I’ll tell Holly, or if

it’s a leadership thing I’ll tell one of my
staff, “Just surprise me.

I don’t even want to choose.

I don’t know what to choose.

There are too many options.

Just surprise me.”

Holly will say, “Do you want this to eat or
that to eat or the other to eat?”

I’ll be like, “Just surprise me.”

What a great prayer to pray to God for all
of us

who have been surprised by life.

If Peter and John, the most unlikely Kobe
and Shaq combination in gospel history, can

be interrupted on their way to prayer by a
paralytic man who asked for money but got

healing to the point…

Remember this.

In verse 11, after he jumped up and was healed,
the Bible says the man held on to Peter and


You’re wondering, “What’s the point of holding
on to them if your feet and ankles are strong

enough to hold yourself up?”

It’s because he wasn’t ready for this.

You weren’t either, and God knows that.

So, when you get to that place where you say,
“This is something I never saw myself doing.

This is something I never saw myself dealing
with,” just turn your palms to your Father

like this and say, “Surprise me, God.”

I want you to walk in the confidence this
week, like Peter learned to walk in.

He didn’t get it at first.

We don’t get it at first.

But to know that when I’m most surprised,
God is most strategic.

Let’s get this in our spirits.

God said you need to have a surprisable spirit.

You need to not get so cynical about things
that you just write everything off and push

everything away and, in the name of being
guarded, you miss God.

So say this: “God is most strategic when I
am most surprised.”

Lord, I’m praying today for those who are
in a “Surprise me” season.

Not that they would like it.

Maybe we need it.

I’m not asking for something bad to happen
to me or anybody else.

I like the good surprises, God, and I want
all of those, but even for the thing I didn’t

ask you to do, like the man in this passage,
help me to reach out and take hold of what

you brought me.

Surprise me, God.

Surprise me with a facet of your goodness
and provision I didn’t see this week.

Surprise me.

I’m too overwhelmed.

I don’t know this way, that way.

I don’t know.

We don’t know anymore.

The menu is too big.

The world is too complicated.

The inputs are too great.

The noise is too loud.

So surprise us.

May we be filled with wonder and amazement.

May people barely recognize us this time next

May we leap for joy when we think about all
of the things you’ve done for us.

God, some of us have been sitting at a gate
so long while you were trying to make us a

gate for something you want to release.

Surprise us.

Use us.

God, would you use us to surprise somebody
else, somebody who wasn’t expecting their

day to be made?

We come around this idea, “Why are you surprised
by this?”

We’re not surprised by suffering, but we are
expectant of glory.

We are resurrection people.

We give you praise in
this moment.

In Jesus’ name.