Joel Osteen - Tell Yourself A New Story
I want to talk to you today about Tell Yourself a New Story. We all have a story of how we see ourselves, and how we see our future, comes from how we were raised, what people have said, our successes and failures. For some people their story is negative. "I've been hurt too much. I could never love again. I'm at a disadvantage. I could never be successful. I had big dreams, but I want the talent, the experience". You know what's stopping you? Your story. You're being limited by what you're telling yourself. What you believe about yourself, how you see your circumstances, the story that you've written will override what anyone else says. It's more powerful even than the facts. You can be incredibly gifted, you have a great personality, but if you tell yourself that you're average, you don't have much to offer, your gifts won't come out like they should.
God says he has mercy for your mistakes, that he's not holding your past against you. But if you tell yourself that you're washed up, you've blown it too many times, living regrets, you're going to miss the new things God has in store. Is the story you're telling yourself keeping you from rising higher? Why don't you tell yourself a new story? The scripture says, "God is the author and finisher of your faith". He's the author. Psalm 139:16 says, "All of your days were written before you were born". God has already written your story. The key is to get your story in line with his story. God says his plans for you are for good, to give you a future and a hope. He calls you a masterpiece, valuable, victorious, and overcomer. He said what was meant for harm, he's turning to your advantage. You may have been through bad breaks, things that are not fair, the enemy would love to author your story. He would love to rewrite what God says about you. You need to take that pin back, cross out all those lies, and tell yourself a new story. God says he has beauty for those ashes, that he'll pay you back for the wrongs, you wouldn't be alive unless he had good things in front of you.
Don't let circumstances, what didn't work out, what you think you don't have convince you to live with the wrong story. Your story is setting the limits for your life. Don't telling yourself that you'll never be successful, never get out of debt, never meet the right person. Tell yourself a new story: I'm made in the image of God. I'm crowned with favor. I'm a masterpiece. There is greatness in me. What I touch prospers and succeeds. Blessings are chasing me down. My latter days will be better than my former days. That's the story God has written about you. Is your story contradicting his story? Have you let people, circumstances, doubt, negativity rewrite your story? Don't let someone else become the author. Take that pin back, and tell yourself a new story.
When my father went to be with the Lord, I knew I was supposed to step up and pastor the church. The problem was the wrong story was playing in my mind. I'd told myself for years that I couldn't get up in front of people, I was too quiet, I didn't have the training, the personality, I wouldn't know what to say. All these thoughts said, "Joel, look at your dad. He was strong, bold, outgoing. He had a lot of experience. No one's going to listen to you". I had to do what I'm asking you to do: I started telling myself a new story. I went back to the one who had written my story, the one who breathed life into me, the one who knew me before I was formed in my mother's womb. I said, "God, I'm gonna let you be the author of my story. I'm going to believe that I'm strong in the Lord, and the power of your mind. I'm going to believe that I can do all things through Christ, that I'm equipped, empowered, and anointed. That my gifts will come out to the full. Lord, I believe you've raised me up for such a time as this".
When you get your story in line with what God says, things will happen that you couldn't make happen. I wouldn't be up here today if I had not told myself a new story. I'd let the fear, intimidation, insecurity keep playing. Don't let the wrong story keep you from your greatness. "Well, Joel, I can't leave my department, I can't get up in front of people, I'm not that talented". Who told you that? Where did that story come from? Could it be that a wrong story is keeping you from rising higher? "I can't make A's in school, I'm not that smart, all I can make are C's". You have to realize: the enemy has taken that pin, and rewrote your story. "I can't break the addiction, I'll never get out of this neighborhood, never accomplished my dream, it's too late for me", as long as you believe that story, it's going to become a reality. God didn't create you to just get by, survive life. He created you to excel, to leave your mark. He said you are to reign in life. But victory starts in our mind.
The scripture (Proverbs 4:23) says, "Be careful how you think, because your thoughts run your life". Your story is setting the limits for your life. God came to Moses after he'd been living in the desert for 40 years, and said, "Moses, go tell the Pharaoh to let my people go". Moses said, "God, I can't stand before Pharaoh, I stutter, I have a problem with my speech, you know I don't speak well". God said, "Moses, who made your tongue? Who made your mouth"? Do you think God would ask you to do something, and then not give you the ability to do it? Do you think he'd choose you to be here at this time in history, and not give you everything you need to live a victorious life, to overcome obstacles, to leave your family better than they were before? What was the problem? Moses had the wrong story. He was telling himself, "I'm unqualified. I'm at a disadvantage. I have these limitations". The story you believe is the story that's going to come to pass.
When you tell God what you can't do, "God, I can't get well, you saw the report. I can't start my business, I'm not that talented. I can't do something significant, I come from the wrong family". God says to you what he said to Moses: who made you? Who wrote your story? Who gave you your gifts? Who picked out your family? Who lined up the good breaks? Who planned out your days? The Creator of the universe. The God who spoke worlds into existence. He's your author, he's written your story. You're not doing life on your own, go back to what he says about you.
It's interesting as little children we start off with big dreams: we're going to be an astronaut, an architect, a scientist, a singer. A little boy told me last week he was going to design airplanes, he knew everything about avionics. As a child we have no limits, we believe we can do great things. But over time our dreams start to get watered down. People tell us what we can't do, go through disappointments, things that are not fair, life starts to rewrite our story. We let the negative taint how we see ourselves, what we're capable of. We end up settling for so much less than God has for us.
Pay attention to the story you're telling yourself, go back to what God put in your heart. He wants you to dream again, to believe again, to love again. Don't let a wrong story limit your destiny. Don't believe that lie that says, "Just live with the sickness, the depression. I'll never get well, I'll never go to college, I'll never meet the right person, let me just make it through life". Tell yourself a new story: you can still accomplish your dream, you can still get well, still meet someone awesome, still go to new levels. Delete that old story, get rid of that limited thinking, that's what's stopping the new things that God has in store.
This is the mistake the Israelites made. God brought them out of slavery, parted the Red Sea, and took them toward the Promised Land. It was a great day, their dreams were coming to pass, they were finally free. But the problem is: they always saw themselves as former slaves, at a disadvantage, "We've been through too much". Every time they faced opposition they complained, they were afraid. At the Promised Land God told them he would give them the victory, but they said, "Moses, people are too big. We don't have a chance, let's go back to Egypt, let's go back to being slaves". Notice how powerful a wrong story is: after being in slavery, mistreated, abused, they said "We want to go back to that same environment". They came out of Egypt, but Egypt never came out of them.
If you don't change the story you're telling yourself, you'll go back to things that don't make sense. God delivered them from the Pharaoh, he brought water out of a rock, they had seen firsthand his awesome power. It seemed so logical, so easy for them to say, "This is a new day. God has done great things, we're free, let's go into the Promised Land". Instead they kept that slave mentality. The story they told themselves is, "We'll always be defeated, this is our lot in life". But I love the fact that the children of these Israelites had a different story. Their attitude was, "We've seen the suffering, being mistreated, wandering through the desert. That may be what our parents accepted, but that is not our lot in life, we're going to go into the Promised Land, we're going to eat the fruit, we're going to live in houses we didn't build, and enjoy the blessings God has in store for us". Their parents saw themselves as former slaves, these children saw themselves as sons and daughters of the Most High God. Not at a disadvantage, but surrounded by favor.
Forty years earlier their parents turned around from the Promised Land, and wandered in the desert. Now these children went into that same land, defeated the opposition, and lived there in a place of abundance. The difference was: the story they told themselves. Their parents could have gone in, they could have enjoyed years of God's favor, but they let their doubts, their fears, their opposition rewrite their story. Don't do like these parents, don't let a wrong story, what you've been through, what looks too big, what hasn't happened convince you that you can't defeat your giants, you can't accomplish your dreams, you can't be healthy, successful, fulfilled. The enemy got your pen. He's altering the story that God wrote for you. Get that pin back, cross out all those lies. This has to start in your own heart, your own mind. God is not going to force his destiny, his favor, his blessings. You have to get in agreement with him.
This is what my father did. The story he was told growing up, the story he saw modeled was, "We're poor. We'll never do anything significant. The odds are against us". His parents were farmers, and they lost everything during the great depression. They were doing their best to survive. I understand that tough times can come, life can throw us curves. You may be in poverty, but don't ever let poverty get in you. Don't develop a poor mindset, where all you believe for is just enough to get by. Don't accept that as your destiny. God has an abundant life for you. He knows how to make streams in the desert, how to bring you out of struggle and lack, give you a bountiful life. Maybe you need to change the story you're telling yourself.
17 years old, my father gave his life to Christ, the first one in his family. He had no money, he had to drop out of high school to work on the farm, no future to speak of. But something came alive on the inside. He made a decision at 17 that his children would never be raised in the poverty and lack, that he was raised in. What happened? He started telling himself a new story. Instead of, "You're stuck in this environment, you'll never get ahead, never make anything out of your life", his attitude was, "I'm destined to do great things, the favor of God is on my life, opening doors no person can shout, taking me where I can't go on my own".
He felt God calling him to become a pastor, and he told his parents he was going to leave home and go out and start ministering. They said, "John, all you know how to do is work on the farm. You better stay here with us, you're going to get out there and fail". They meant well, but you can't let other people put their story on you. Don't let their defeat, their negativity, their limited vision keep you from believing that you can rise higher. People are not the author of your story, God is. He called you, he anointed you, he put the dreams in you. Other people may not understand, they may try to talk you into watering down your dream. No, keep the right story playing in your mind.
My father left that day, and that started a journey more rewarding and more fulfilling than he ever imagined. He ministered for over 50 years, saw God's favor in amazing ways. Maybe like my father the environment you were raised in has tainted your story. The people you grew up around, or who you're with now don't believe for much, except mediocrity. You have to be the one to break out of that rut. Don't let that negative story limit your life. That was fine for them, but this is a new day. God wants you to go further. He has things in your future that are much greater than you can imagine. Now, get in agreement with him. Quit telling yourself that you're limited, you've gone as far as you can, you'll always struggle. No, tell yourself a new story, have an abundant mentality, "Lord, thank you that my cup runs over. Thank you that I live under the open windows of heaven, that you take pleasure in prospering me, that I will leave an inheritance to my children's children".
I read about this bear, he had lived in a 12 foot by 12 foot cage all of his life, since he was a little cub. During the day he would pace back and forth, back and forth, hours at a time. He stayed in that limited environment year after year. It was very unfair, there was no way for the bear to live. He was created to run, be free. One day he was discovered by the authorities, they made arrangements for him to be taken to a zoo. It was a large area, big pools of water, rocks to climb on, everywhere you look there was green grass. It was like a dream setting. They transported the bear, opened the cage, so excited, but the bear wouldn't get out. They had to push him into the green grass. They thought eventually he'd take off running, explore the new surroundings, you know, the pools. But all the bear ever did was walk in a 12 foot square. He never went to the pools, never climbed the rocks, never played with the other bears. He got out of the cage, but that cage never got out of him.
His story was, "I'm stuck, I'm limited, I can't go any further", when the truth is he had a whole field to play in. The story you tell yourself is very powerful. How we were raised, what we saw model growing up, the environment we're in now can create these boundaries in our mind to where we adapt to what's around us. Even though God has all kinds of amazing things in store, if you tell yourself that you've reached your limits, you can't get well, you can't accomplish a dream, like that bear you'll miss the fullness of your destiny. The story you tell yourself is the story that's going to come to pass. My encouragement is: the cage is open. God has a big life for you, favor, opportunity, freedom, great relationship. Get in agreement with him. Tell yourself a new story. You don't have to figure out how it's going to happen, all you have to do is believe.
Mark chapter 5, there was a lady that had been sick for 12 years. She had gone to the best doctors, spent all of her money, but nothing had helped. You can imagine how discouraged she was, how weak and frail. The story she was telling herself was, "This sickness is permanent. Nothing else I can do, it's just a bad break". She continued to go downhill. But one day she heard that Jesus was passing through her town. Despite how she felt, despite the circumstances, she told herself a new story. She said, "When I touched the edge of his robe, I will be healed". The scripture says, "She kept saying to herself: I'm going to get well", healing is coming, things are about to change. She deleted her old story, and started telling herself a new story. Faith began to rise in her heart. As she kept saying, "Healing is coming", she began to make her way through the crowd. When she touched his robe, she was instantly healed.
Like this lady, you may have a good reason to have a negative story: you're facing a challenge in your health, your finances, a relationship. It's easy to let defeated thoughts, can't do it thoughts, it's never going to work out thoughts play in your mind. That's when you have to do like her: dig down deep and say, "No, I'm deleting that story. I will be the exception. I will get well. I will see my family restored. I will break this addiction. I will lend and not borrow. I will accomplish my God-given dream". Give God something to work with. You can't have an old story, and see the new things he wants to do. Many times our story is what's limiting us, what we're telling ourselves. We're looking at it in the natural, but God is supernatural. This is what faith is all about.
That's why God said to Moses: who made your tongue? He was saying, "Moses, you're looking at it only with your ability. Don't you realize I have all power, I created the universe? Nothing can stop my plan from coming to pass". God has already written your story. Yes, there will be ups and downs, challenges and victories, but there's nothing you'll come up against that he doesn't already have a solution. He won't let you get in a problem that he can't bring you out of. The key is to not let that wrong story take root. In difficult times, when nothing is changing, it's taken longer than you thought, it's tempting to get discouraged, bitter, water down your dreams. You have to keep telling yourself: this is not permanent, didn't come to stay, it came to pass. I'm an overcomer, God always causes me to triumph. This is not going to stop me, victory is headed my way.
There was an experiment done with a high school in California. The principal told three teachers since they were the most effective teachers in the district, they had the highest ratings, they were chosen for a new program. Out of thousands of students they were going to take the top 90 students, the smartest, most talented, with the highest iq, and put them in a class with these teachers, they could teach them at a faster pace. The teachers and the students were so excited, knowing that they were the brightest in the school. At the end of the school year these three classes had learned 30 percent more than the other students. They were 30 further along in math, reading, and science. It was a huge success. Then the principal informed the teachers that they didn't have the top 90 students in the district, they had simply randomly chosen those students. The teachers felt really good, thinking they were so smart, they had done such an awesome job in teaching. Then the principal informed the teachers that they weren't the most effective teachers, they were randomly chosen out of a hat.
The point is: when you tell yourself a different story, when you tell yourself that you're made in the image of God, smart, talented, favored, wise, anointed, creative, you're going to see new levels of your destiny. You may not realize it, but the only people we allow in Lakewood (we have a very strict policy), the only ones we allow online, in Sirius XM, are the smartest, healthiest, most talented, most creative, most attractive, most generous, most valuable, most blessed people in the world. We have great confidence in you. We see you the way God sees you. The only thing that's holding some people back is the story they're telling themselves. "I'm not that talented, Joel, not as smart as my cousin. Can't run a business like my friend. I can't write books like you do". Who knows what you can do, if you'll start seeing yourself differently?
I'll tell you something funny about me. Ever since I've started ministering over 20 years ago, every time I get up to speak, wherever I am, I think to myself everyone here loves me, everyone here thinks I'm great. Now, I know I'm naive, I know everyone doesn't, but that's the story I tell myself. Do me a favor, leave me in my ignorance. That's a lot better than getting up thinking, you know, insecure, intimidating, "I don't think these people like me. I don't know if they're gonna listen. I'm boring them". The story I tell myself is, "Joel, you're anointed, you're favored, you're blessed". I don't say that arrogantly, but in humility: the story you need to tell yourself is, "God breathed his life into me. I'm a masterpiece. I have something great to offer this world. I am fearfully and wonderfully made". Most of you are wonderfully made, my brother Paul was fearfully made, but... You can't reach your destiny discounting yourself, seeing everyone else smarter, greater, prettier.
Can I tell you? You're awesome! You're talented! You have a great personality! You're going to do something amazing! If you don't believe in yourself, it's going to limit your life. Sometimes we have a false sense of humility, "Everything else is great, it's just little old me". No, God hand-picked you. He chose you to be here. He crowned you with favor. He put gifts and talents in you. Your fingerprints are like no one else's. You're a designer's original. No, you're not better than anyone else, but you're not less than anyone else. Tell yourself a new story: I am valuable, I am favored, I am attractive, I have a great personality, people like being around me. You have enough people in life against you, don't be against yourself.
Are you telling yourself the right story? "Joel, I stutter, I have this weakness", so did Moses. Who made your tongue? Do you think a limitation is going to keep you from your destiny? That somehow God shortchanged you, you're lacking in some area? Not a chance. "Well, I have this sickness, this addiction, this problem at work". I'm not saying deny it, act like it's not there, but like the lady with the issue of blood, start telling yourself a new story: healing is coming, freedom is coming, breakthroughs are coming. Like that bear, are you living with a limited mentality because of how you were raised, or the environment you're in now? I'm here to tell you: the door is wide open. God has awesome things in your future, make sure your story lines up with his story. Because the story you tell yourself is the story that's going to come to pass. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: like the children of the Israelites, you're going to go into your Promised Land. You're going to see favor, overcome obstacles, accomplish your dreams, and reach the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen today? Amen.