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Watch 2022 online sermons » Joel Osteen » Joel Osteen - Your Move When Life's Unfair

Joel Osteen - Your Move When Life's Unfair


Joel Osteen - Your Move When Life's Unfair

I want to talk to you today about Your Move When Life's Unfair. We all go through disappointments, things that don't make sense: a friend walked out on you, you were overlooked for the promotion, you came down with an illness. I talked to a young lady that grew up in a home filled with abuse. Nobody was there to guide her. The people that should have been helping her were doing just the opposite. She said, "I don't understand why she was raised in such hurt and dysfunction". It's easy to let what's unfair be an excuse to not pursue our destiny. "I can't be successful, I had a rough childhood". "I'll never be happy, I lost a loved one". "I can't accomplish my dream, Joel, the pandemic slowed me down. This company let me go. I didn't get the scholarship".

Here's the key: it's not your fault that you got knocked down, but it is your responsibility to get back up. That was wrong that they hurt you, that was unfair that you went through the injustice. That wasn't right that they walked away, I'm not listening what you've been through, I'm not excusing their behavior, but I am telling you: you have to get back up. Your move when things unfair happen is to go forward in faith, trusting that God will make it up to you.

It's tempting to stay down, live bitter, give up on your dreams. After all you have a good excuse. You may have a reason, but you don't have a right. God still has a great purpose in front of you. He saw what happened, he saw what they did, who left you out, what you lost. He said he would pay you back double for the unfair things. He said he has beauty for those ashes. But there's something you have to do: you can't sit around nursing your wounds, "Why did this happen to me"? Don't put a question mark where God has put a period. Part of faith is trusting when life doesn't make sense. We're never going to understand everything that happens. You can't let one betrayal, one divorce, one bad season sour the rest of your life. I know it wasn't fair, I know it was painful, it wasn't your fault, but you can't stop there. You have a responsibility to get back up.

That means quit re-living the hurts, quit thinking about what they did, believing that you've seen your best days. God knows how to make it up to you. When he sees you moving forward when you could be sitting in defeat, you're praising when you could be complaining, you have a smile when you could be depressed, you're being good to someone even though you've been through hurts, you better get ready, God is going to show out in your life. You will see greater favor because of the unfair things. The enemy meant it for harm, but God is turning it to your advantage.

A man told me how his business partner didn't keep his word, it left him with all this debt, now his business is struggling to make it. He was so upset, he said, "Joel, this man ruined my credit, he damaged my reputation, he took my main clients, he's basically ruined my life". It's okay to feel hurt, to feel wrong, to feel violated, God made us with feelings. I'm not saying you have to be superman, never feel anything. But if you're going to see the beauty for the ashes, if you're going to see God pay you back for the wrongs, at some point you have to rule over your feelings. Get your passion back, start moving forward. If you use it as an excuse, it will keep you from your purpose. But on the other side of that excuse is a new level of your destiny. If that person that did you wrong could in fact ruin your life, they would be more powerful than God. That's not possible. The bad breaks, the injustice, the loss did not stop God's plan for your life.

It wasn't your fault that you got knocked down, but it is your responsibility to get back up. The way you move forward in faith is knowing that God is working all things for your good. May not have been good, it was unfair, it was hurtful, but God knows how to turn it for your good. He's not going to leave your life in a broken place, in a damaged place, in an unjust place. That may be the reason you are where you are, that's your explanation, but don't make it your excuse. Have a new perspective: "Yes, I've had some bad breaks, that's why my business is down, but that's not how my story ends. I went through a loss, it was painful, but I know weep endures for a night, but joy is coming in the morning". "I had a lot of dysfunction growing up, Joel, didn't get off to a good start, but I know my latter days will be better than my former days". Nothing that's happened to you is a surprise to God. He wouldn't have allowed it if it was going to stop your purpose. You may have gone through loss, things that are not fair, but what you need to fulfill your purpose is not in what you've lost, it's in what you have left. Take the hand you've been dealt and make the most of it.

First Samuel chapter 30, David and his men were living in the city of Ziglag. They'd been out on a mission for several days. When they were returning home they noticed smoke billowing in the air from the direction of Ziglag. They picked up the pace, worried that something was wrong. As they got closer, their worst fears came true. Amalekite bandits had come in and raided the city. They kidnapped all their wives and children, stole all their possessions, burned down their houses. It was the worst defeat David had ever suffered. Here he was out doing the right thing, protecting God's people, and his whole world fell apart. The scripture says, "He and his men wept until they could not weep anymore". If that wasn't bad enough, David's men were so upset, they started to blame David. They talked about stoning him.

It wasn't fair that David was doing the right thing and the wrong thing happened, wasn't fair that his possessions were stolen, his family was taken, his men were turning on him. But God doesn't promise us that life will always be fair. He doesn't say, "If you do the right thing, the wrong thing will never happen". Life happens to us all. It's what we do in these unfair times that determine whether we get stuck, and let it sour the rest of our lives, or whether we move forward and see God make it up to us.

David was at a critical point. He could have gotten bitter, "God, I don't understand it. How could you let this happen"? If he would have stayed in a defeated mindset, this would be the last we'd hear of David. He understood this principle. It wasn't his fault that he got knocked down, he had no control over that, but it was his responsibility to get back up. He knew if he stayed in the ashes, re-living defeat, feeling sorry for himself, it would keep him from his destiny. He had a good explanation for why he was down. Nobody would have disagreed, given up on his dreams, faded off into the sunset. But he didn't let his explanation become his excuse. "I would have been a great king, but we got attacked at Ziglag. I would have left my mark, but these people did me wrong. I would have been a hero of faith, but man, all these unfair things happened to me". On the other side of that excuse is expansion, there's a new level of your destiny.

Are you going to stick with the excuse or are you going to see the expansion? It depends on, if you take responsibility and get back up when you get knocked down. I know it wasn't fair, I know they did you wrong, you don't understand it - leave that all in God's hands. Just do your part, and get your passion back, get your faith back, get your dreams back. This is what made David a champion. Not that he never had injustice, not that he never had bad breaks, things that weren't fair, people that did him wrong. He knew how to get back up again. He dried his tears, shook off the defeated mindset, told his men, "Get up we're going to go attack the enemy". He didn't stay on the defensive, thinking that he'd seen his best days. His attitude was, "I have a destiny to fulfill. This bad break didn't stop my purpose. I know that God will make it up to me".

That's how you move forward when it's not fair: not looking to people, not hoping that your boss will feel sorry for you, not counting on your friend to make it right. Look up to your Creator. Look up to the Most High. He's the one that has beauty for ashes. He's the one that can bring you out better than you were before.

David and his men headed out. They didn't know where the Amalekites were, but along the way they found a man that was very sick. They gave him food and water, asked who he was. He said he was a slave of the Amalekites, they had left him behind because he was too sick to travel. David said, "Tell me where they are, and I'll spare your life". He led them straight to the Amalekites camp. God knows how to put the right people in your path. He knows how to get you to where you're supposed to be. The Amalekites were having a big party, celebrating their victory. Sometimes the enemy celebrates too soon. Don't worry if you see them celebrating, God is not finished. David and his men attacked them, the scripture (1 Samuel 30:18) says, "They recovered everything that they had lost", all their wives and children were unharmed, they got all their possessions back. Not only that, they gathered up all the spoils from the Amalekites.

That's what happens when you don't let an injustice, a bad break, a loss cause you to get discouraged and settle where you are. But what stops us many times is we have a good reason to be sour, good reason to give up on our dreams. We had a bad childhood, the person walked away, the company let us go. Wasn't our fault that we got knocked down. I understand that, but what I'm saying is: it is your responsibility to get back up. We wouldn't be talking about David if he'd used that excuse as a bad break. Here he was honoring God, he was not taking revenge against Saul, he didn't get bitter when his family left him out. Would be different if he was slacking off, compromising, just doing whatever he felt. But he was being his best, a person of an integrity, and yet the bottom fell out.

That's a test: are you going to let it be an excuse that keeps you from your greatness, or are you going to get back up, knowing that God is on the throne, that he has good plans for you, that what tried to stop you was only setting you up for something greater?

Three days after David's biggest defeat, three days after he lost everything, he not only recovered at all, but king Saul was killed in a battle, and David was made king. When you face your biggest battles, the most unfair, unjust, that's a sign that you're close to seeing your greatest victories, your biggest accomplishments, your most rewarding relationships. The enemy always fights you the hardest when he knows you're close to a new level of your destiny. Don't settle where you are, re-living the hurt, thinking about what didn't work out, "God, where were you"? God never left you. He's been right by your side, that's how you made it through.

My question is not: was it unfair? Did they do you wrong? Were you left out? We all agree, that wasn't right that you got knocked down. My question is: are you getting back up? See it's not your responsibility to fix everything, to straighten them out, to prove that you're okay. Leave that up to God. Your part is to simply move forward in faith, not looking back, not letting excuses keep you from dreaming again, not bitter over what didn't work out. You know it's all in God's hands. You trust that he's working all things for your good. All things means the unfair things, the things you had no control over, you were doing the right thing, and the wrong thing happened. All things are the betrayals, the times you were left out, the times they said something that set you back. You didn't get the promotion, the family member didn't make it. It wasn't fair, didn't make sense, but you got back up, you're moving forward. Like with David you're going to see God show out in your life. He's going to do something uncommon, out of the ordinary, that catapults you to a new level.

In the 1950s my father was pastoring a thriving church. They just built a beautiful new sanctuary, he was on the state board for his denomination. His future looked very bright. My sister Lisa was born with something like cerebral palsy, and the doctors told my parents that she would probably need constant care. My father went to a hotel downtown for a few days to be alone and study the scripture. He told how he took off his denominational glasses, and read the Bible like he was reading it for the very first time. He saw how Jesus went around healing people, how he was a God of miracles. He came back to his church with this new message of faith and victory. He thought they'd be so excited, but it was just the opposite. It didn't fit into their tradition. There was so much divisiveness that my father ended up having to leave the church.

He was devastated. He and my mother had poured their heart and soul into those people for years, and now it was all gone. My mother had lifelong friends that never spoke to her again. When you come to these places that are not fair, it's a critical time. It's easy to get bitter, give up on life, let that be an excuse to never do anything great. You have to dig down deep and say, "God, this is painful, it doesn't make sense, but I know you're still in control. You wouldn't have allowed it if you didn't have a purpose for it". Wasn't my father's fault that he got knocked down, that was an injustice, but it was his responsibility to get back up.

He and my mother went out and started Lakewood on mother's day in 1959 with 90 people. They just come from that big beautiful sanctuary, now they were in an old run-down feed store, had holes in the floor, cracks in the ceiling, beat up chairs. You have to take the hand you've been dealt and make the most of it. Your destiny is not in what you've lost, but it's in what you have left over. Anything you lost you didn't need to become who you were created to be. Friendships, people, contracts, if you lost it don't sweat it. What you have left is what God is going to use to move you into your purpose.

My parents lost the big, prestigious sanctuary. You would think they'd be limited, all they had was a little feed store. But God will take what you have left, breathe on it, and it will multiply. All you may have is five loaves, two fish so to speak. The disciples asked, "What is this among so many", but when God breathes on it, when he favors you, when he vindicates you, when he restores you, the little will become much, new doors will open, opportunity will find you, the right people will show up. God is not limited by what you've lost. You have what you need to flourish, to blossom, to succeed, to do something awesome.

Those 90 members over time turned into 900, and then eventually 9000. That old feed store was replaced by a larger sanctuary, then a larger, and another larger. People said, "Lakewood would never make it", but here we are 63 years later in the former Compaq Center, still going strong. Who knows where God will take you and your children, if you'll just get back up again?

In the scripture God told Samuel to anoint a young man named Saul to be the first king of Israel. Saul wasn't trained in leadership, he didn't come from an influential family. I can see Samuel taking Saul under his wing, encouraging him, training him, giving him advice and counsel. He wanted him to succeed so badly. This all started off good, he was making the right decisions, but over time he got off course, started compromising, and lost the kingdom. God told Samuel, "I regret that I ever made Saul king". You can imagine how Samuel must have felt. He'd poured his time and energy into Saul, now it seemed like it was all a waste of time. He was so focused on what he had lost, what didn't work out, wondering why sal wouldn't do better. God said to Samuel, "How long are you going to mourn over Saul"?

Like Samuel, you may have done your best. You gave it your heart and soul, but didn't work out. You didn't get the position, the relationship didn't make it, the business didn't succeed. God is saying to you, "How long are you going to mourn over what you lost? Over what didn't work out? Over what wasn't fair"? God told Samuel (1 Samuel 16:1), "Fill your horn with oil, for I have chosen another king for you to anoint". God was saying, "Samuel, you're focused on what you've lost. It wasn't fair, it wasn't your fault. But your destiny is not in what you've lost, it's in what you have left". It's significant that after king Saul was rejected, after Samuel's first choice didn't work out, his next choice would be David, the greatest king that ever lived. If you'll stop mourning over what you've lost, then like Samuel you'll come into something greater, something better, something more fulfilling than you've ever imagined.

My friend Dan was one of my baseball coaches growing up, and such a fine man. I was good friends with his son Danny. When we were in our teens, Dan's wife of many years was diagnosed with a serious illness. We all prayed, we believed, we stood in faith, but she went to be with the Lord. Dan was devastated. They had been married for many years, had several beautiful children. She was the love of his life. Didn't seem fair that she was taken at such a young age. It wasn't Dan's fault that he got knocked down, they're good people, they love God, they help others. But when we go through loss it is our responsibility to get back up. Yes there's a time for mourning, but you can't let a season of mourning turn into a lifetime of mourning.

Dan was retired from the phone company. Instead of sitting around the house, depressed, thinking about what he had lost, he would go to the funerals where my father was doing the ceremony. Nobody asked him to, he didn't know the people, but his attitude was, "I've been through what you're going through. I can encourage you. I can let you know that you're going to make it". He got knocked down, but he didn't stay down. My father noticed him at all the funerals, he asked Dan to come on staff and lead the comfort ministry, that helps those that are going through loss. A few years later Dan met a beautiful young lady named Shirley, and they've been happily married for many years, seeing God's blessing and favor, still serving here at Lakewood. I can't promise you that you won't get knocked down, that there won't be times when life is not fair, but I can promise you: if you'll get back up, God will give you beauty for the ashes, he'll pay you back for the wrongs.

When David was a teenager, the prophet Samuel came to his house to anoint one of Jesse's sons as the next king of Israel. His father Jesse didn't call him in from the shepherds fields. He thought David was too young, not talented enough. David had to deal with rejection, betrayal, ridicule. Even after Samuel anointed him, David went back to the shepherd's fields. We never read where David complained, slacked off, talked badly about his father. He kept being his best when no one was watching. It wasn't fair that his own father didn't believe in him, wasn't fair that his brothers made fun of him when he took lunch to them on the battlefield. Wasn't fair that he was left out in the shepherd's fields. David understood this principle: he just kept getting back up, doing the right thing. He knew: no person, no bad break, no injustice could keep him from his destiny.

King Saul struggled with bouts of depression. His staff told him that he needed someone that could play music when those attacks came, and it would make him feel better. Saul agreed and asked him to find someone. They said, "We know a young man named David, he's the son of Jesse, he's excellent in play in the harp". The scripture says that Saul sent a message to Jesse, saying "Send me your son David, the shepherd". He didn't send it to David, he sent it to Jesse, the very one that left him out, the very one that discounted him. People may overlook you, but God sees you. They may push you down, but God will lift you up. They may leave you out, but God will call you in.

Imagine Jesse hearing a knock on his door, he answers it, and it's officials from the palace standing before them, dressed in their royal uniforms, guards and chariots. Jesse thinks, "What in the world are they doing at my house? Am I in trouble? Have I done something wrong"? The official says, "The king wants your son David to come work for him in the palace". Jesse nearly passed out. He thought, "David? The one I didn't think would amount to much"? God knows how to vindicate you. He knows how to make up for the wrongs. Someone may have put you at a disadvantage, but people don't have the final say. Don't let an excuse keep you from going to the palace.

"They never give me any credit, they overlook me, they did me wrong". They can't stop your destiny. Quit mourning over what you've lost, who wasn't for you, what wasn't fair - God sees it, he knows what's happening. If you'll move forward in faith, the right people will come looking for you. Opportunity will come tracking you down, promotion will come knocking at your door. It's not your fault that they weren't for you, it's not your fault that you had a bad break, but it is your responsibility to get back up. What you've been through may be your explanation as to why you are where you are, but don't let it be your excuse to stay where you are. This is a new day, God is doing a new thing. He's about to pay you back for what wasn't fair. He's about to open doors you never dreamed would open. The best part of your life is still in front of you.

Now here's the key: the enemy would love for you to get stuck where you are, focus on your hurts, what they did, what you didn't get. Don't fall into that trap. Your move when life is unfair is to go forward in faith, knowing that God is on the throne, that he's working all things for your good. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: like David God is going to promote you in front of people that tried to hold you back. Like with my father, out of that rejection is going to come new levels of your destiny. Like with Samuel, Saul may not have worked out, but it's going to open the door to David, to something better than you've ever imagined, in Jesus name. If you receive it, can you say amen today? Amen.
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