Christianity 201

April 17, 2011

Maybe You Still Don’t Get It

Steven Furtick, author of Sun Stand Still (Waterbrook) and pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina is another one of those people qualified to wear the label, “intentional.”  On his blog, he’s been doing a series, “Signs You Still Don’t Get It;” and again, in the interests of getting material actually seen while knowing people don’t click, I’ve assembled in a single post here, Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.  [Note: You might want to click through as there are additional resources linked there.]

To read the text in a larger font, hold down Ctrl and press “+” sign.

“Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?     – Matthew 16:9

There are some things that we just have to learn the hard way. The disciples of Jesus knew this better than anyone.

Two times in the previous two chapters Jesus had provided a miraculous supply of food for a hungry crowd. Here in chapter 16 Jesus tells them to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees. The disciples freak out because they didn’t bring any bread and they think Jesus is hungry and needs them to supply food.

They still don’t get it.

We could be judgmental, but the truth is that there are things that are just as elementary that you and I still don’t get. And it’s these things that keep us in a state of inertia in our walk with God and the calling He has placed on our lives.

So I thought it’d be good … to address some of the top signs that indicate that we still don’t get it. Confront the elementary things that are keeping us from launching into a whole new dimension in our relationship with God…

1. You still feel unworthy to come to God when you fail.
You sin and think there needs to be a grace period before you can pray for forgiveness. You completely blow it and think there’s no way God can use you again. Your days are done. Your destiny disqualified. Might as well sit around and sulk in your self-condemnation.

This really comes down to one thing: you still don’t understand grace.

We often think the grace of God is just a commodity to get us to the point of salvation. But we don’t understand that the same grace that brought us to the point of salvation is also with us in our daily lives. The same power that raised you from the grave of your sin is the same power that raises you from the mistakes of your everyday life.

Proverbs 24:16 says, The righteous man falls down seven times, but seven times, he rises again.”

That’s not what comes to our minds when most of us think of a righteous person. We think they’re someone who never or rarely falls. But that’s because our idea of righteousness is rooted in self-righteousness. The real righteous person is the one who has been made righteous by Jesus and then can let Jesus pick him back up when up when he falls.

There’s a big difference between falling down (Peter) and falling away (Judas). Grace means God’s got your back. Like Peter, your failure is not final.

Get back up. Go to back to God. No, you’re not worthy. But neither were you worthy when you came to God the first time. It was Jesus’ worthiness that made you worthy then.

What makes you think the terms of acceptance have changed?

2. You’re still waiting for God’s will to “fall into place.”

  • You’re still waiting for God to bring the right man or woman into your life.
  • For the perfect job to come along.
  • For…

And in the meantime you’re not doing much of anything about it.

  • You’re hanging out in your basement.
  • You’re begrudgingly going about your present job.

You’re going to be waiting for a long time. Not because God doesn’t want to bring the right person into your life. Or the job you’ve been created for. Or anything else He wants for you. But because God’s will isn’t a matter of waiting. And it rarely falls into place all at once.

When you think about the will of God for your life, think less in terms of a big bang and more in terms of small sparks that lead to a large fire. It’s a matter of doing what you should be doing and letting God continually move you forward into what He wants you to be doing.

A lot of times we spend our greatest effort trying to uncover the mysteries of the parts of God’s will that we don’t understand rather than obeying the part of God’s will that we do understand.

And that’s His Word. When all else fails, God’s Word is His will.

So from the examples above:

  • It’s always God’s will for you to become the kind of man or woman that will be the husband or wife of someone else’s dreams.
  • It’s always God’s will to do all of your work as unto the Lord.

So start doing those things. And then trust God to use your present obedience to move you closer to your future assignments.

If you’re single, stop waiting for God to bring you the right person and start running after God with everything you’ve got. When you see someone running alongside of you, you’ll know God’s will has “fallen into place.” And while you’re at it, clean yourself up, put some product in your hair, and join the greeter team at your church.

Stop waiting for the perfect job to come along and start perfecting the job that you have. That way when the perfect job “falls into place,” you’ll be ready for it.

We don’t have to waste time wondering when and how God’s will is going to fall into place. Obedience that is active is way better than passive reflection. We find direction from God while we’re on the move. We know as we go. We set out and then God shows up.

We know God’s will by doing God’s will.

3. You’re still driven by the approval and affirmation of others.

You’ve made yourself believe:

  • If I get another promotion.
  • If I buy another pair of shoes.
  • If I have sex with another person.
  • If I do another favor.
  • If I lose another size…

…They will approve of me.

Or:

  • If he would just tell me I’m beautiful.
  • If my husband would just notice me.
  • If my coworkers would just acknowledge my contribution.
  • If anyone would just affirm who I am and what I do…

…My life would be complete. My life would have meaning.

But it’s not true. The affirmation you want will always be just beyond you. The approval you crave will only last for a moment. You’ll have the thing you thought you needed, but you won’t feel the peace you thought you’d feel. And as I’ve said before, he who lives by the approval of others will die by the absence of the same.

Many people spend most of their lives trying to achieve the approval that can only be received. Stop trying to chase down from people what God has already given to you in Jesus. Instead live life with the knowledge that in Jesus, you’re already affirmed. You’re already approved of.

When you have the approval of your Father, you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone.

4. You’re still trying to put God first.
I know, it sounds weird. Shouldn’t this be the exact thing you should still be trying to do?

On the surface, of course we should. Jesus is supreme over everything. He is first in importance. And so in that sense, we should always be trying to put Him first in our lives.

But my question is, what does this actually look like when you get down to the grind of everyday life? For example, what does it even mean to put Jesus first before my family? Do I ignore my family to spend more time with Jesus? Or with my career, do I stop working to put Jesus first?

In many people’s honest attempt to put God first in their lives, they end up segregating Jesus from the different priorities of their lives. And this is the exact opposite of what Jesus wants. He doesn’t just want to be first before your priorities. He wants to be first in them. The center of them.

  • Don’t worry about putting God first, then your family. Put God first in your family.
  • Or God first, then your career. Put God first in your career.
  • Or God first, then your finances. Put God first in your finances.

If you do that, you won’t have to worry about trying to put God first in your life. He already will be. The thing that is at the center of your life is the thing that is ultimately first in your life.

~Pastor Steven Furtick

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