Joel Osteen - Secure In His Sovereignty
I want to talk to you today about Secure In His Sovereignty. We all have our own free will. We can make decisions, do what we want, go where we want to go. It's easy to think that our life is based on what we're choosing. And to a point of course that's true, but that's not the only factor. God has a conditional will, these are things he does based on whether or not we make good choices. We determine the course our life will take. But God also has a sovereign will, these are things he's going to do regardless of our decisions. God has already planned ahead of time a purpose for you to fulfill. He's not making it up on the fly, watching how you're going to perform, how disciplined you'll be, then he'll decide whether he does certain things. He's not watching to see what other people do, what bad breaks come your way, what disappointments, then he'll pivot, come up with another plan.
It says in Ephesians 1:11, "You were chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything according to his will". Long before you got here, God laid out the plan and purpose for your life. His sovereign will is unstoppable. There's nothing you can do or not do to keep his sovereign will from coming to pass. You can't make too many mistakes, you can't get so far off course that God's going to change his mind. Just ask Jonah. He did exactly opposite of what God told him to do. He went his own way, got in trouble, thrown overboard into the sea. God didn't say, "Too bad, you're on your own, you should have listened". God had a big fish waiting for it. It's like God called an UBER, swallowed him up, took him to the shore. God was saying, "Jonah, you can't stop my sovereign will. Where I want you to go, you're going to go".
Not just in negative things. When it's his sovereign will for you to be blessed, it's not dependent on what family you come, from how much experience, talent, education you have. The blessing will overtake you. You'll see favor that you didn't have anything to do with. You didn't earn it, you weren't born into it, you can't explain it, it's the unstoppable God carrying out the plan that he decided long ago. When you go to a broadway play, you don't show up and the actors are all there without a script, "Play starts in 15 minutes, let's decide what we're going to do. What's the plot? What character will I play? How will the drama unfold"? The script has already been written. Long before the actors ever arrive, the writer has already decided what's going to take place.
When you walk in the theater, there's not an empty stage, the carpenters don't show up and say, "Okay, let's build some sits. What props are you going to need"? The lighting director, "Tell me the scene, so I can get some lights. Let me figure it all out". The stage has already been set. The props are already in place. The script already finalized. In the same way you didn't show up on planet earth, and God say, "Okay, let me figure out a script for them. Let me figure out what role they're going to play". You weren't born into an empty stage. God didn't say, "I have to think about what environment they should be in, what family I should use, what people, what experiences".
Long before you arrived God wrote a script for you. The fact that you're here is a sign that the stage has been set, all the props are in place, the people that you need. Yes, there may be some drama, some ups and downs, things you don't understand, but you can stay in peace, knowing that it's all working according to his will. You're not at the mercy of fate, happenstance, hope you get some good breaks, hope this sickness doesn't take you out. There is a sovereign God who is in control of your life. His sovereign will cannot be overridden by bad choices, by other people, by how you were raised, by what you didn't get.
Jeremiah 1:5 said, "God knew you before you were formed in your mother's womb". You didn't show up because your mother and father decided to have a baby. Wasn't a random coincidence that they got together. Sometimes when a pregnancy is not planned we say, "This baby was a surprise". You may have been a surprise to your parents, but you're not a surprise to our God. He's been thinking about you for generations. Jeremiah went on to say, "God's plans for you are for good, to give you a future and a hope". Part of his sovereign will is to be good to you. There are blessings coming that are unstoppable, there is favor in your future that is simply the goodness of God, something that he's already planned, that cannot be overridden. You don't have to worry about how it can happen, how you can get ahead, how you can leave your mark. The sovereign God has already not only planned it, but he will make it happen. It's not up to you, it's up to him. Blessings that chase you down, favor that you didn't see coming, good breaks that you can't explain, it's already written in your script. The stage has already been set.
I mean, how could I be up here today? This is not something that I chose, it's not something that I worked for. I wasn't hoping to attain it, I didn't want to get up in front of people, I didn't think I could minister. For 17 years I stayed behind the scenes. My choices were determining my future, I was comfortable, I would have stayed there, but at one point I came in to the sovereign will of God. His will is unstoppable. Yes, God will let you make decisions up to a point, he'll let you be in control of your destiny for periods of time, but at certain times he will take complete control, he will override your decisions, and thrust you into your destiny.
When my father died, I knew I was supposed to step up and pastor the church. I'd never wanted to before, but suddenly I had the desire, I wanted to. I had not had that desire for 36 years, in fact it was just the opposite, I dreaded getting up in front of people. But when you hit one of these sovereignty moments, where it's not God's conditional will, where you have a part, you can decide, but God has already decided, it's already on the script, he's already planned to bless you, to favor you, to rescue you, to turn the trouble around, there's nothing you can do except sit back and enjoy the ride. You stepped into the unstoppable God. The part of his plan that is not negotiable. He's not looking for your opinion, he's not asking what you think, he will override every force trying to stop you, every limitation, every disadvantage, every bad decision, and thrust you into your destiny.
Think about my father, this is what happened with him. Daddy grew up in a family that didn't have any kind of faith. They were good people, but they didn't know anything about God. They were just trying to make it through the great depression, very poor and defeated. His grandparents, great-grandparents, three or four generations back, there was no thought of God, no spiritual heritage, looked like that would continue on. But at 17 years old, my father was walking home from a nightclub at two o'clock in the morning, suddenly he began to think about God. He looked up at the stars and wondered what he was going to do with his life? He could feel this sense of destiny calling him.
He walked in the house, there was a Bible on the coffee table there. It was just there for decorations, they never used it, but he opened it up, two o'clock in the morning, it fell open to a page with a picture of Jesus standing at a door and knocking. The caption read, "If you open the door, I will come in". Nothing randomly happened. That Bible was put there in the sovereignty of God. That was in the script that was written before my father was born. Falling open to that page wasn't a coincidence, wasn't a lucky break, it was the sovereign God working out the plan that he had decided long ago. And dad went to church the next day with a friend of his, and gave his life to Christ, and that one moment broke the cycle of generations of no faith. Now my children, my grandchildren will come from generations that honor God.
There are some things you can't explain, it's just the sovereignty of God. "Well, Joel, why didn't it happen sooner"? I don't know, I'm not God. He's the one that's in control. It says he lifts up some, and sets down others. I do know that he's promised to be good to you. I do know there are these sovereign moments in your future, where God is going to do things that you can't explain. There's no reason for it. You couldn't have made it happen, but suddenly your family member turns around, suddenly a door opens, suddenly your health improves, suddenly your thrust to a new level.
When David was a teenager, he was working in the fields, taking care of his father's sheep. And it looked like that's what he'd do with his life. Came from a low income family, they weren't influential, nobody knew them. But when God wrote your script, when he designed the plan for your life, on purpose he put these moments of favor that don't make sense. The scripture says, "He chose the foolish to confound the wise". David was out in the fields minding his own business. Every circumstance said, "You're stuck. This is your lot in life". But one day the prophet Samuel showed up at his father's house to anoint one of Jesse's sons as the next king of Israel. David didn't go looking for Samuel, Samuel came looking for David. David's purpose came tracking him down. David couldn't have made this happen. He didn't earn it, he didn't work for it, he didn't put out flyers "Hey, vote for me", this was the sovereignty of God.
Samuel tried to anoint one of David's seven brothers as the next king, they were in the house, David was still out in the shepherds fields. Samuel went by them one by one, "Not this one. Not this one. Not this one". What God has for you is not going to go to someone else. His sovereign will cannot be overridden. People can't manipulate the situation to where you don't get to where God wants you to be. Nobody stole your blessing. Nobody stole your husband (you're stuck with him), your promotion. Nobody stole your house. Stay in peace, God is ordering your steps. The stage is all set. The script is all written. He's in control.
David was anointed to be the next king, but he didn't go to the palace, he went back to the shepherds fields. One morning his father asked him to take lunch to his brothers that were in the army. The Israelites were in a standoff with the Philistines, and they were on the verge of conflict. David left that day, thought he was just running an errand, "No big deal, I told my dad, I'd deliver this lunch". But notice the sovereignty of God: when David arrived, it just so happened that Goliath came out and started toning the Israelites. David heard all the insults, all the threats, something rose up in him. Look how strategic God is: David thought it was another ordinary day, just taking lunch to his brothers, when in fact it was a destiny moment. David was at the right place, at the right time. If he had been there three hours earlier, he wouldn't have heard Goliath. If he have said, "No, dad, I'm not I'm not an errand boy, get somebody else to take the lunch", he would have missed his destiny.
God is ordering your steps. When it's his sovereign will, you don't have a choice. Don't worry thinking, "Oh, I must have missed this", you're too late, you didn't obey, you should have done this. You can't miss the sovereign will, it's not up to you, it's up to God. What he's already decided is going to come to pass. The good news is: God has decided to favor you. He's decided to rescue you, he's decided to be good to you. Goliath was twice David's size, the champion of the Philistine army, their most feared soldier. David was young, small, no military training, no armor. How could he have the courage to face Goliath? What gave him the passion, the fire to even think that he had a chance? When you come into these sovereign moments, it's not just you, it's the Most High God backing you up. It's the one who's already written your script, stepping in with you. There will be faith that you've never had, courage, favor, boldness that will catapult you ahead.
And like David, there are these times where you think that you're just going to work, just taking care of kids, just running this errand, just coming to church. What you don't realize is: it's this sovereign moment, a moment that God has strategically orchestrated to put you at the right place, at the right time, to meet the right people, to hear the right thing. Faith is going to rise up. You're going to see things happen that you could never make happen. When you defeat that giant so to speak, you're going to look back and think, "How did I do that? How did I get here? How did I meet this person? How did this sickness turn around? How did my family members get back on course"? It's the sovereignty of God. Something he planned that you couldn't stop. Take this in the right way, but you couldn't mess it up, you're not that powerful. He already decided long before you were born to make it happen.
I'll never forget once Tuesday I was going to work, just like another ordinary day. I was at the church, and a friend called I hadn't spoken to in years. He said, "Joel, I want to take you to lunch today". I said, "I'm sorry, I'm busy, let's do it another day". He said, "No, it's important. I want to do it today". I said, "What's it about"? He said, "I'll tell you when we get there". Saying, "Oh, great, he's going to need something, got a new project". I cancelled an appointment to go with him. Normally I wouldn't have done that, I'm very routine, but for some reason I wanted to go. We got to the restaurant, he said, "Joel, the rockets basketball team is moving out of the Compaq Center, you should try to get that building for your church".
What he didn't know is: we had been turned down twice, trying to buy property to build an auditorium. I was discouraged, thinking that we were at a dead end. When he said that it was like a bomb went off on the inside. I knew this building was supposed to be ours. Looking back now, I don't know how I had the faith for it. I was oblivious to the fact that it's going to cost 100 million dollars to renovate. Sometimes God will hide things from you on purpose. I wasn't moved by the critics telling us we didn't had a chance, I had this unshakable confidence, this knowing that God could make a way even when I didn't see a way. There are these times that you don't have a choice, God will give you the faith, he'll bring the building to you, the idea, the people, the favor, it's the sovereign Lord.
See, this building was built by the city of Houston for the rockets to play basketball in. They didn't realize long before they built it, God had already decided it was going to be ours. It was already written in our script. At the right time his sovereign will came to pass. Now, I'm all for making good decisions, honoring God, being our best. But there are times we don't have the faith, we make mistakes, we get off course, we didn't do our best. But when it's his sovereign will he will override your doubt, override your mistakes, override what's trying to stop you. You will defeat your giant, you'll get your Compaq Center, you'll meet the person of your dreams, you will step into your greatness. I lay down at night and slept in peace, knowing that there is a sovereign God. Because if it was just up to me, I'd be discouraged, I'd be worried, "I may make mistakes. I may not have the faith. I may think the giant is too big", but because of the sovereignty of God, there are these times where what we think, what we do, how we perform does not change what God has already predestined for our life.
David understood this principle. He said in 2 Samuel 7:18, "Oh, sovereign Lord, who am i? And what is my family, that you have brought me this far". He was looking back over his life, thinking how did I get here? I'm a shepherd, now I'm a king, I'm respected, I have a lasting dynasty. He was saying, "It could only be one thing, the sovereign God". Five times in the next few verses he referred to God as sovereign. Verse 28 he said, "O, sovereign Lord, you have promised good things to me". Can I tell you: the sovereign Lord has good things for you. It's not based on how well you perform, who likes you, what family you come from, what the economy does. These are blessings, favor, breakthroughs, that God has already written in your script. Instead of worrying, thinking that it's never going to happen, trying to earn it, why don't you do like David and say, "Oh, sovereign Lord, thank you for the good things you have in store for me. Thank you for choosing me before I could choose you. Thank you for not depending on my performance, my faith, my circumstances, but blessing me because of your goodness".
"Well, Joel, you're saying, you know, you can do whatever you want, and God's still going to be good to you". No, what I'm saying is: you cannot change God's sovereign will. You may not perform perfectly all the time, you may not deserve his blessing, but when it's his sovereign will, it doesn't depend on what you do or don't do. God has decided to make it happen. What God decides is unstoppable.
In the scripture Saul was the biggest enemy of the church. He got letters from the courts to have people arrested that were following Christ. He was like a terrorist. When Stephen was stoned to death, he was standing by giving his approval. You would think he's too far gone, God wouldn't have anything to do with him. No, don't write anybody off. You don't know what God has planned ahead of time. His sovereign will can't be stopped by our choices.
Saul was on a horse, traveling to Damascus to have believers arrested. He's on a mission to cause more havoc, suddenly a light shine down from heaven, like a flash of lightning, knocked him to the ground. It was so powerful that he couldn't see. A voice boomed out, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me"? Saul answered, "Who are you, Lord"? All of a sudden he's using the word "Lord". That day was a turning point. Saul eventually became the apostle Paul, who wrote almost half of the New Testament.
If God based his will only on our decisions, Paul wouldn't have had a chance. The beauty is: God has a sovereign will that overrides our choices. It's the goodness of God loving us when we don't deserve it, showing us mercy when we should have judgment. Maybe you've gotten off course, made decisions you're not proud of, you feel like you're washed up, can I encourage you? The sovereign God is still in control of your life. He's already planned ahead of time these moments of mercy, healing, favor, where he won't just restore you, but he'll thrust you into your purpose.
Paul wrote in Galatians 1:15-16, "Before I was born, God called me to proclaim the good news to the gentiles". He was saying, "This is what God decided ahead of time, but I couldn't see it, I was doing just the opposite, going the wrong way. Then the sovereign God stepped in. The God who overrides our decisions and put me into my purpose".
When you understand that he's sovereign, that he's not basing everything on our choices, our ability, our background, our family, then you can stay in peace. His sovereign will is unstoppable. Sometimes we get frustrated because we can't see the whole script. We don't know what God is up to. We go through disappointments, loss, bad breaks, doesn't make sense to us, it's a setback. But nothing is random. It's all working according to his plan, what he decided long ago. You have to trust Him when you don't understand. You have to believe that he's still sovereign, that it's all serving a purpose. I believe one day you'll see what he was up to.
This is what happened with Naomi in the scripture. She lived with her husband and two sons in the city of Bethlehem. Life was good, then there came a great famine. She had to move with her family to Moab, so they could survive. In Moab her sons met Ruth and Orpah. They fell in love and were married. Well eventually, Naomi's husband died, ten years later both of her sons died. She was so heartbroken, she decided to move back home to Bethlehem. She urged her two daughters-in-law to go back to their hometowns as well. Orpah took her up on it, she walked away, but Ruth said, "No, I'm not going to leave you". She moved back to Bethlehem with Naomi.
There she met a man named Boaz, they were married. They had a son named Obed. Obed had a son named Jesse. Jesse had a son named David. Look at how strategic God is: the famine that caused Naomi to move wasn't random, it was a part of God's plan to get her to Moab, so her son could marry Ruth. It was painful, but if she hadn't gone through that loss, she would have never moved back home. If Ruth wasn't single again, she would have never married Boaz, they would have never had a child. Yet, God decided ahead of time that David, the greatest king that ever lived would come out of their family line.
If you'd have told Naomi back then during the famine, during the loss that God was working, that it was all a part of his plan, she would've said, "Yeah, right. Nothing good is going to come out of this", but God is sovereign. We're looking at what's going on this week, this month - he can be looking generations ahead. He can be using you to orchestrate something much bigger, much more significant than you can imagine.
Think about Ruth. For some reason she wanted to go back to NaomI's hometown. She didn't know anyone there, why didn't she do like Orpah and go back to where she was from? This was the sovereignty of God. God gave her the desire because it was something he had already decided ahead of time. God is not making it up as you go, he's working all things according to his plan. Now, stay in faith while his plan unfolds. What if you're upset over a disappointment, living bitter over a loss, when in fact Obed so to speak is coming. Now, Ruth is in the family line of Jesus.
What God is doing in our lives is not always going to make sense. He's been orchestrating things for you generations back to bring you to where you are. Just like he brought Ruth out of heartache into great joy, nothing you've been through has been random. It's not happenstance, bad luck, God is still in control. This is when you have to trust that he's sovereign, that what he's already decided for you will come to pass, that the good things in your future are unstoppable. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: you're about to come into some of these sovereign moments, things that you couldn't make happen. Like David, the right breaks are going to come looking for you. Like Ruth, favor that you've never imagined. Like Paul, God is going to override your mistakes, and thrust you into your destiny, in Jesus name. If you receive it, can you say amen today? Amen.