New Hope Notes
Are You Settling?
Pastor Jeff Shortridge
I am so blessed and honored to be here among friends! I've been coming to New Hope since 2015 and have built such great relationships with your pastors and staff members that they have become friendships.
How many of you have ever received a word from God for your life—a promise, something that you felt that God had for you? I want to remind you of a scripture that has been spoken over you for quite a while now; it’s a prophetic word for everybody.
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
It’s a word that you must hold onto because sometimes God’s promises don’t come to pass overnight. Sometimes when God gives you a word, it takes time to actually see it come to fruition.
Between the time you received that word and the time that the word comes into your life, the enemy’s assignment is to convince you that you serve a God that will renege on His promises. Satan tries to convince you that you serve a bait-and-switch God who will give you all the promises in the world when you open His Word, but then when you surrender your life to Christ and say, “Lord I’m yours. Have your way in my life,” He conveniently forgets about you. Satan wants you to believe that God doesn’t hear your prayers and that He forgets about you.
Therefore, when God gives you a word, write it out and make it plain because when times get difficult, you must be able to look back at the word that God gave you and say, “No. I will not settle. I will not stop believing. This is what the Lord said over my life.” If you don’t have a prophetic word that you feel God put into you, grab Jeremiah 29:11 and quote it. Keep it up over your doorpost.
I’m reminded of a little shepherd boy named David in the Old Testament. One day he was in the field tending his flock and he saw over the hill Samuel the prophet coming towards him. Just behind Samuel were David’s dad and his brothers, all in tow. They came across the plain of grass and walked up to David. David kneels and Samuel takes out the horn of oil and pours it over him and says, “God has called you to be the next king of Israel.”
So David was anointed king but may I submit to you that nothing changed right away! He got up the next morning and went right back to tending his flock. Nobody treated him differently. But the word was released in the spirit realm and everything was different in the spirit because now he had become a target by the enemy of his soul to assassinate him! It doesn’t take much more reading to see that in a very short period of time David wasn’t out on the hillside in the open anymore. He was running for his life because the current king Saul was saying, “ I’m going to take him out. I’m going to kill him. Nobody is going to take my throne!”
David and his men were running from village to village and mountain to mountain, hiding out, and finally they get to a little town called Adullam. There’s a network of caves there, and they tunnel into the caves and start hiding out. For the first time in a while they have a place to rest and relax while King Saul’s army is running all over the countryside trying to find them. Nobody can find them. They’re safe. They can rest. And David for the first time is able to take a breath. He looks around him and sees these loyal men and may have thought, I could stay here and settle. But David remembered the word of God that was spoken over his life and may have said, “Wait a minute. I’m not called to be a caveman. I’m called to be a king. Kings don’t live in caves. God, I thank you for where I am but I don’t receive this as my destiny. I receive this as halfway between where I was and where I’m supposed to be.”
There comes a point in everyone’s life that you come to a crossroads, somewhere halfway to your promise and you have one of two choices: settle or finish the course.
The church is at a halfway point—it’s at halftime. There may be individuals in this room that your personal life is at halftime and you’re about ready to settle for something less than what God has called you to and promised you. You’re at a crossroads and you must make a decision either to follow God or to follow your fear. It may seem tempting to settle where you are but the Lord sent me all the way from the mainland to tell you, “Don't settle! God's word will come to fruition in your life if you won't give up!”
Halftime in a football game is when all the teams run back to the locker room, the coaches get fired up and the players hear their speeches. They look at the first half of the game and say, “Okay, what did we do right? What did we do wrong? What kind of course corrections do we need to make? How do we finish strong?”
New Hope is at halftime. You are at halftime. God is your halftime coach, and He is saying, “Look back at the word that I’ve spoken over you and don’t let go of it. Believe me. Don't be afraid because what I promised you will happen!”
When I was a very young teenager, I was afraid that Jesus Christ would come back to earth and rapture His church before I grew up and could get married. That was my fear.
And so my pastor looked at me and said, “Jeff, if God can make a wife for Adam and he made Eve for Adam. I believe God made a wife for you somewhere on this planet.”
And so I’m 25. Then I started looking around, nothing happened. I’ve dated girls who said they were in church, and God didn’t give me a green light. And I kept praying. I hit 30 years old. Nothing happened.
You can’t cash in on the promises of God in your own time; it has to be in His time. God doesn’t need your help. He can do everything He said He would He do for you all by Himself.
It will exhaust you; it will drain you to be in the presence of people who are not a part of your destiny.
I did it. I found a girl I thought was the most beautiful one in the building, and I walked up to her after the service, talked to her for a minute, and asked her out on a date. She was so sweet and just turned me down right there! But she changed her mind and I took her to an Italian restaurant for dinner. I walked her to her car and got into my car and sat down. I'll never forget sitting in the driver's seat of my car exhausted. I was drained from that date. I laid my head on the headrest. I didn't feel like lifting my hand to put the key in the ignition to start the car. I laid my head against the headrest, and felt like I was melting into that seat wondering, “What is wrong with me?”
I'll tell you what was wrong with me. It will exhaust and drain you to be in the presence of people who are not a part of your destiny. It will take the energy out of you when you try to put people into your life that are not a Kingdom connection that God did not design and did not orchestrate for you. So I never went out with her again, praise God.
And so I turned 40 years old and nothing happened. It was 2016 and I was trying to help God out again. I was dating this good Christian lady and I knew she wasn’t my destiny. She knew the same thing. But her pastor called me up and said, “Hey, I want you to preach for us this weekend,” and I said, “This weekend? It’s Saturday right now.” And he said, “Well, tomorrow.” I said, “Okay.” I drove four hours from Atlanta to Knoxville, Tennessee, and the girl I was dating was there, the pastor was there, and the church was there. I walked up the front steps of that church, opened the door, looked into the foyer and standing behind the information desk was the most beautiful blond-haired, blue-eyed girl that I had ever laid eyes on in my life. I thought I’m with Leah and here’s Rachel! So I broke up with Leah and Facebook messaged “Rachel” and asked, “Do you mind if I call you?” She said, “No. I don’t mind at all.” So I called her and to this day there has not been one day that we haven’t talked. In fact, in July of this year, we both stood in front of my pastor and we looked each other in the eye and said that we will love and cherish each other all the days of our lives!
Delayed destiny does not mean destiny denied.
We know that God has a plan for his people. Many times before that plan can be executed, there will come an interruption. It’s almost inevitable. You can almost predict that when God puts a plan into your life, obstructions will come—things to cause you to engage in doubt, fear, and unbelief—to stop your faith.
There is nothing that you could have done to stop the call and the anointing that God has on your life. The Bible says He will never leave you nor forsake you, but it’s like cellphone coverage. You can step out of the cellphone coverage. The cellphone coverage is still there but if you step out of it, you can’t hear. I’m asking you to step back under the coverage. God is still saying the same word over you. He has the ability to take what the devil meant for evil and turn it into good. Everything that you’ve been through (every trial and test) God is using to turn you into the person that you need to be to fit the role He has called you to!
Satan has the power to interfere, to delay, but he does not have the ability or the authority to cancel out God’s Word!
What causes people to settle? People settle because they lack self-confidence, lack trust in God, lack vision, and have fear of the unknown.
You may not know exactly what God’s calling looks like to you, but you know what you have now. You know the hand you’ve been dealt and you can at least survive so you might as well just settle, and you settle for that. But you’re only at a halfway point in your life; you can’t settle if God’s called you to something more!
Sunday, February 5,2017 was the date of Super Bowl 51. The New England Patriots faced the Atlanta Falcons in one of the most memorable games in history. Nobody thought the Patriots would come back after being down in the last quarter by so many points—28 to 3! But they did and they won the game in a thrilling fashion in overtime.
Proverbs 24:16 KJV says, “For a just man falleth seven times and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.”
The only difference between a just man and woman and a wicked man and woman is that one is willing to get back up when they fall. The only thing that God is challenging the people of New Hope to do is not stay down. You must get up. There is a call on your life. There is a promise that God has over this church. There is a place that God is calling you to.
God will use this church not just to reach the Islands of Hawaii but to continue the ripple effect across this planet. God needs a church just like this but He can’t do it through the facilities that you now have. Don’t stop at halftime. You’ve got to keep going. And in your personal life, don’t settle because you are the church; the church will become what the individuals do. Keep up the good fight!
Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7 ESV, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Will you be able to say that you finished, or will you say I settled at the halfway point in my life?