Joel Osteen — Faithful in the Routine
I want to talk to you today about faithful in the routine. There are times in life we feel like we're going in circles. We're doing the right thing, but not making much progress. We don't see anything changing, and it's easy to lose our passion and get discouraged. But one test we all have to pass is being faithful when nothing new is happening.
We're just going to work, raising children, coming home, doing the same thing again. It's easy to be our best when we're getting good breaks, things are falling into place. That doesn't take much faith, but what about when you're working hard, but not getting the credit? You're being your best, but your marriage isn't improving. You're honoring God, but not seeing increase. When you trust him, when it feels like you're going in circles, will you stay passionate when you're doing the same thing again and again?
When you're faithful in the routine, something is happening that you can't see. Your character is being developed. Your spiritual muscles are getting stronger. You're being prepared for where God is taking you, and the routineness of life is not exciting, but it is necessary. You won't become all you were created to be without being your best when it's mundane, being excellent, having a good attitude when it's just another ordinary day. Nothing exciting is happening, you're just singing in the choir another Sunday, going to work with a smile another week, doing the right thing with a good attitude another month. You could see it as boring. "When is this going to change"?. But you understand this principle, you're being prepared, and when God can trust you to be faithful in the ordinary, then he'll take you into the extraordinary.
When you're faithful in average days, then you will see exceptional days. But sometimes, we're frustrated because we know we have more in us, but we're not seeing it happen. We don't understand why we're not making progress, but God will always put bigger things in your spirit before they come to pass, and you may be dealing with something mediocre, but God is preparing you for something great. David was anointed to be the king as a young man, then God sent him back to the shepherds fields. He had a king's anointing, yet he was taking care of sheep. Your anointing will supersede where you are right now. God called David to rule a nation, but he was doing a menial task. Day in and day out, nothing exciting, boring, routine. He could've gotten discouraged, "God, why isn't it happening? You said I would be the king".
If he had not passed this test of being faithful in the routine, he would've never taken the throne, and like David, you may know you have more in you, you can feel those seeds of greatness, but you're doing something menial, something beneath your training. You're being overlooked at work, nobody takes your advice. At home, nobody says thank you. It's just another ordinary day. I'm asking you to be faithful where God has you now. Be faithful in the routine. This is where David excelled. Out in the shepherds fields, he didn't slack off, he didn't show up late. He didn't have a sour attitude, thinking, "When I get to where I'm going, then I'll give it my all. When I take the throne, then I'll show people what I'm made of". No, he showed what he was made of when nobody was watching. He understood he wasn't working unto people, he was working unto God, and he was excellent where God had him even though he didn't like it, and that's what led to the throne, all those ordinary days of being his best.
Are you being excellent where God has you now? "Well, Joel, this is not where I want to be. I don't want to work for this supervisor, I know more than him. I don't want to live in this apartment, I want my own house. I don't want to sing in the choir, I want to be on the stage with you". Well, here's the key. Go get your own stage first off. Here's the key. You'll never make it to the stage if you're not faithful where you are. You won't see promotion if you're not being your best where God has you right now.
Thirteen years later, after being faithful in the shepherds fields, going through all kinds of unfair situations, David suddenly took the throne, and passing the test in ordinary days is what leads to exceptional days. That's when you'll see moments of favor where God thrusts you years ahead, and it's not the big things that hold most people back, it's the small things. Being faithful day in and day out, going to work with a good attitude, sitting in traffic not complaining, showing up to church week after week.
Faithful in the routine is what prepares you for promotion, and you may feel like you're going in circles. You're not making much progress, but the right attitude is, "I may not like where I am, but God, since you have me here, I know this is where I'm supposed to be. So, I'm going to keep being my best, giving, serving, helping others right where I am".
We read about the heroes of faith in the scripture. Their lives seem like they were so exciting, but the truth is most of their life was routine. Yes, Moses parted the Red Sea. He told Pharaoh, "Let the Israelites go". Those were great miracles, but it was just a few days of his life. There will be more ordinary days than there are exciting days.
If you live from big event to big event, waiting for something exciting to keep you encouraged, you'll be disappointed. Learn to enjoy where God has you right now. This is the day the Lord has made. It may be routine, it may feel like you're no closer to your dreams than you were years ago, but when you do the ordinary with a good attitude, that's getting you prepared for the new things God has in store, and sometimes, the reason God is not changing the circumstances is he's using the circumstances to change us, and if we'll start passing these tests, being patient when it's taking longer than we like, staying in faith when we're not getting our way, having a smile even when we're uncomfortable, we're growing, we're developing, we're showing God that we trust him, and like with David, that's when you'll not just be anointed for the throne, you'll take your throne.
And the scripture talks about how God is the potter and we are the clay. The potter takes a lump of clay and puts it on the wheel. It spins it around again and again. The clay could say, "I don't like going in circles. I don't like this spinning. It's boring. I want to do something exciting. Let me off this wheel so I can make progress".
What the clay doesn't realize is it is making progress. While it's going in circles, the potter is forming it, shaping it. It seems routine to the clay, it seems like it's stuck, but while it's spinning, the clay is coming up higher. It can't tell it at the time, but it's rising up from a lump of clay into a beautiful vase.
If you were to ask the clay after it was formed, after it'd gone through the process, it would tell you, "The spinning was for my good. I didn't like it at the time, I couldn't see anything happening, but without the spinning, I wouldn't be who I am," and you may feel like you're spinning today. You're doing the same thing over and over, not making much progress.
But like that clay, when it feels like you're going in circles, something is happening that you can't see. You're coming up higher. God is making you, molding you. It may seem ordinary, routine, but when you're faithful where you are, you keep doing the right thing even though you're not making progress, you have a song of praise when you could be complaining, you are rising higher. You may not see it, but the spinning is working for you.
When Joshua was leading the Israelites toward the Promised Land, they came to the city of Jericho. It was surrounded by a huge wall, 15 feet wide, 35 feet thick. There was no way in the natural for the Israelites to get past that wall and make it to the Promised Land, and Joshua prayed and asked God what they should do, and God told him to have the Israelites march around the city of Jericho.
I'm sure Joshua thought, "God, we need to get in the city, and you're telling us to walk around it? You want us to go in circles"?. They marched the first day and nothing happened, second day nothing happened, third day nothing. The whole time, the people thought, "This is a waste of time. This doesn't make sense". Six days they walked in circles, ordinary, routine, didn't see anything changing. On the seventh day, God told them to march around seven times. The last time, they were to let out a great shout and blow their trumpets, and when they did, those huge walls came tumbling down, a great miracle.
But even though the walls fell, the Israelites should have had trouble getting past all the rubble, the debris, the walls were so big. But researchers have found the walls fell in such a way that it created a perfect ramp. Some fell on the inside, some on the outside, and just like an overpass, the Israelites were able to go in and take the land, and when you're faithful in the routine, God will make things happen that you couldn't make happen. You may have been doing the right thing for a long time. You feel like you're being left out, you're being fallen behind, but God is closely watching you. He sees you walking around the walls. He sees you doing the right thing even though nothing is changing.
Your time is coming. It's going to happen suddenly, unexpectedly. What looked like an ordinary day is going to turn out to be an exceptional day. You thought you'd have to march around another month, another year, suddenly those walls are going to come down. God has explosive blessings. No wall is too big, no obstacle too high, no enemy too powerful. One touch of God's favor can catapult you years ahead. The Psalmist said, "You can run through a troop and leap over a wall". God will get you to where you're supposed to be.
But why did God have them march around in circles 7 days, do the same thing over and over? It seemed like a waste of time, didn't make sense. He's God. He could've brought the walls down the first time Joshua asked. But marching around that city was a test. God wanted to see, would they be faithful in the routine? Would they trust him when they were going in circles? Would they do the right thing when it seemed ordinary? You're not always going to understand why something isn't changing, why you're not making progress, why those people won't treat you right.
Don't get caught up in the whys, it is simply a test. Keep being faithful where you are, and those walls will come down. When they were marching around the city, God told them to not say a word. They couldn't whisper to each other, they couldn't discuss the situation. God knew if he didn't keep them quiet, they would've talked themselves out of it. "Why are we walking around? Joshua has lost his mind. I'm tired, I'm hot, I'm thirsty". If they would've gone around the walls with a negative report, even though they were doing the right thing, it would not have happened.
When you feel like you're going in circles and you're not making much progress, don't start talking about how it's never going to happen, how you'll never get well, your business will never take off. Do yourself a favor and zip it up. You can do the right thing with the wrong attitude and miss the blessing. But every day, you go around the walls with a good report. "Father, thank you, you're restoring health back into me. Thank you that I lend and not borrow. Thank you that this is my year of yes". That's passing the test.
Like with the Israelites, that obstacle that should've stopped you will not only suddenly come down, but it will become a ramp where you can move right past it. The scripture says God will make your enemies your footstools. That means instead of being a stumbling block to stop you, they will become a stepping stone so you can rise to the next level. But on the surface, it looked like the shout is what brought the walls down. But the truth is the shout without the obedience of marching around the walls wouldn't have had the same effect, and sometimes, we're wondering why the walls aren't falling. We shouted, we prayed, we believed, but the shout only works if you do the first part, if you're faithful in the routine.
A friend of mine came to America from India when he was 20 years old to attend Bible college. He was very poor, but a couple from California paid his way over and his tuition, and things were going great. He couldn't believe he was in America, this was a dream come true. Everything was fine until the man that was supporting him lost his job.
Now, this young man had no income, no way to stay in school, no money to get back home. He started going through the neighborhoods asking people if he could mow their lawns, but nobody would hire him. He walked to the local grocery store and found that every night, they would put out food in the dumpster. That's how he survived for a whole year. A job came available as a janitor at the school, but he told how he was at such a disadvantage, he didn't see how he could ever rise any higher.
He thought that was his lot in life, but year after year, he kept being faithful, doing the right thing when he wasn't getting any good breaks. He met a young lady in school, they fell in love. The problem is, at this Bible school, they didn't approve of an Indian dating someone from America. This was many years ago back in the 70s, and course it's changed now, but he was forced to leave the school.
Two years later, he married the young woman, they became youth pastors in another state. Ten years after that, the president of that college resigned, the board called and asked if he would become the next president. He went from having to get food out of dumpsters, to cleaning restrooms, to being forced to leave the school, to being in charge of the whole college.
Friends, God is a God of justice. He'll make your wrongs right. But at the time, it seemed like he was going in circles, seemed like nothing was happening, but God had a plan. The spinning wasn't comfortable, it wasn't always fair, but it was for his good. God was getting him prepared to go places that he never dreamed, but it was all based on him being faithful in the routine, doing the right thing when he wasn't being treated right, and you may have gone through some disappointments as well, maybe situations that you feel like put you at a disadvantage, but no person can keep you from your destiny. No bad break can stop what God has ordained for you. Don't get discouraged, don't try to pay people back.
The disappointments, the bad breaks, the betrayals, they are all a part of God's plan. God uses things we don't like, things we don't understand to push us into our purpose, and sometimes, it feels like things are spinning out of control. The tRuth is they are spinning in control. God is directing your steps. He's closing doors, he's moving the wrong people out, he controls the universe. He won't allow the spinning unless, ultimately, it's going to work to your advantage. Now, the challenge is to trust him while you're spinning, trust him when you don't understand.
When Moses was born, the Pharaoh had put out a decree that all the male babies were to be killed. For 3 months, Moses' mother hid him. She didn't take him outside, they didn't go for a walk, nobody knew he was here. He wasn't celebrated, he wasn't noticed, they didn't have a birthday party for him. He was hidden, and like Moses, sometimes God will hide you. You will go through a season where you're not being noticed, you're not being celebrated. You have all these gifts, so much to offer, but you're being overlooked, ignored, and these times when God hides us, these are times of testing, times of proving. Are you going to keep being your best even though you're being overlooked?
My father and mother started Lakewood with 90 people in 1959. My dad had been overseas holding meetings with tens of thousands of people, but he knew he was supposed to come back and pastor Lakewood. But for 13 years, it was like my father was hidden. The church didn't grow, and my father was a great minister, he was dynamic, he was anointed, but all these gifts, all this ability was going unnoticed. He wasn't being celebrated like he'd been overseas. He wasn't seeing growth and increase.
But those 13 years my father was hidden, he preached to the 90 people like he was preaching to 90,000. He gave it his all. He was there three services a week, never took time off. He lived to pour in to those 90 people. He could've gotten discouraged, "God, why am I not seeing any growth"? Instead, he was faithful in the routine, faithful when he wasn't being celebrated, faithful when he wasn't making much progress. He was spinning. What he couldn't see if he was coming up higher. His character was being developed. He was showing God what he was made of.
If you're not faithful when you're hidden, how can God trust you to be faithful when you're out in the open? And the scripture says when Moses could be hidden no longer, his mother put him in a basket and sent him floating down the Nile river. Out of all the people that could've found him, it just so happened Pharaoh's daughter was at the riverbank taking a bath. She heard the cries coming from the basket, she took Moses in and raised him in the palace as her own son. Moses went from being hidden to being noticed by one of the most influential families of that day, and when you pass the test of being faithful in the routine, there will come a time where God will say, "You can be hidden no longer". He will cause the right people to see you, the right people to celebrate you. You'll not only be noticed, but you will be celebrated.
Those 13 years my father was hidden, but in 1972, it was like God brought him out into the open. The church began to grow from a couple hundred to thousands and thousands. But you may feel like you've been hidden, overlooked, ignored. Stay encouraged, God is about to bring you out. His face is going to shine down on you in a new way. You're not going to have to make it happen. Like Pharaoh's daughter, the right people are going to find you. Doors are going to open that you couldn't open. Promotion is going to track you down.
John chapter 2, Jesus was at a wedding in Galilee. His mother came to him and said they had run out of wine. Jesus told the workers to fill up the stone pots with water. There were 6 of them, they held 30 gallons each. That was 180 gallons of water that they needed. If the workers took a three-gallon bucket down to the well, that would take 60 trips to get that much water.
I could imagine the workers thinking, "What are we doing this for? We need wine. Why are we pumping water"? They could've talked themselves out of it. Instead, they kept doing the ordinary, pumping the water, filling the pots again and again, trip after trip, faithful in the routine. It was water when they pumped it out and water when they poured it into the pots. Would've been easy to stay in faith if, when they drew it out of the well, it suddenly turned to wine. Or if when they poured it into the pots, they saw the miracle right then, they would've been excited. But nothing was changing. It was routine, ordinary, looked like they were going in circles.
But when God can trust you to be faithful getting water, faithful when nothing is happening, faithful when it seems ordinary, then he will take you into the extraordinary, and you may be believing for wine, but all you're seeing is water. Be faithful in your water days. "Well, Joel, I'm just doing the ordinary. I'm just going to work, being my best, raising my children, honoring God, but I'm not making any progress". Don't be discouraged by what you don't see. You're in your water days. The good news is, wine is coming. It's going to happen suddenly, it's going to be unexpected.
After these workers filled up the pots, after they were faithful in their water days, Jesus told them to draw some out and take it to the host of the party. When they did, it not only turned into wine, but when the host tasted it, he said, "You have saved the best wine for last". When you pass this test of being faithful in the routine, God has saved the best for last. What's in your future is going to be more rewarding, more exciting than anything you've imagined.
Now, I'm challenging you to stay faithful in the routine, stay faithful when you're going in circles. Remember, the spinning is working for you. It's getting you prepared for the new things God has in store, and many of you have passed this test, you've been faithful day in and day out. Well, I believe and declare, like Joshua, the walls that have held you back are about to come tumbling down. Like Moses, you may have been hidden, but you're about to come out into the open. God is going to turn your water into wine, take you into the fullness of your destiny in Jesus' name.