Joel Osteen - God-Given Desires
I want to talk you today about God-Given Desires. Sometimes life can be confusing. We think: how do I know what my purpose is? What am I supposed to do? There are so many roads we can take, and so many different paths we can go down. We have ideas, goals we want to accomplish, but we're not sure: is this my plan or is this God's plan? Is this just an idea I came up with or is it something I should pursue? Is it a part of my destiny? How do we know what's right for us? David said in Psalm 37:3-5, "If you will commit your ways to the Lord, if you will trust him and do good, then God will give you the desires of your heart".
We read that to mean that God will give us whatever we want, but another perspective is: when you honor God, he will put the right desires in you. When you have a heart to please God, when you've committed your ways to him, then he will make sure you have the right desires. You can trust that your will will be aligned with his will, that means what you have a desire to do. That open door you feel good about, that position you want to take, that person you want to get to know - you can act on it knowing that God is putting his desires in you. Knowing our purpose, knowing God's will for our life is not as difficult as we make it. If you're keeping him first, then there will be things that you're passionate about, things you're gifted at, opportunity that excites you, dreams that motivate you. That's God leading you into your destiny.
When you've committed your ways to him, you can be sure that God is watching over your desires. He's going to override wrong desires, he's going to close doors you're not supposed to go through, he's going to move people out that shouldn't be there. And I'm not talking today about temptation, carnal desires, we all have to deal with that. I'm talking about when it comes to your purpose, to fulfilling your destiny, God is going to make sure you have the right desires. He said in Psalm 32:8, "I will guide you along the best path for your life. I will advise you, watch over you and instruct you along the way". Notice how God takes you down the best path: he puts desires in you, he advises you, he instructs you, he watches over you. You don't have to worry about missing your destiny, "What am I supposed to do? What if this isn't the right decision". Because you've committed your ways to God, you can trust your desires, you can follow what he put in your heart. He's watching over you, he's going to put the right desires at the right time.
In the scripture, the prophet Samuel came to a young man named Saul and said that he was going to be the first king of Israel. You would think Saul be excited, what an honor, but Saul didn't want to become king. He was afraid, intimidated. He didn't think he had what it took. He told Samuel, "I come from the smallest tribe in Israel, my family is the least important family in that tribe. I'm sorry, Samuel, you have the wrong person. I'm not about to step up and lead these people". Samuel could've thought, "God, you told me to anoint him. I must've heard you wrong". But the scripture says (1 Samuel 10:9), "As Saul turned to leave, God changed his heart. And all that Samuel prophesied came to pass".
Notice, one moment Saul didn't want to do it, the next moment he did. What happened? God put the desire in him. God is not going to let you miss your purpose. You may not want to do his will at first, you may say like Saul, "That's too big, I'm not that talented, that's not my thing", but when God changes your want-to, when he put new desires in you, it won't be a struggle. You won't think, "Oh, man, this is a pain. I don't want to lead. I don't want to raise these children. I don't want to run that business". There will be a passion, a grace, the favor to do what God put in your heart.
I want you to have this confidence that because you're committing your ways to God, he's going to put the right desires in you. He's leading you down the best path. You're not going to have to worry, wonder: which way? What should I do? You can relax, knowing that God is in control of your desires. He's not just opening the right doors, not just bringing the right people, but he's giving you the want-to, the passion, the drive, the wisdom to go down the best path for your life.
What's interesting is when the Israelites were in slavery, God told Moses to go tell the Pharaoh to let the people go. But the scripture says (Exodus 9:12), "God caused Pharaoh to harden his heart and he wouldn't let the people leave". Pharaoh didn't harden his heart on his own, God put the desire in him to be stubborn. God gave him the desire to say "No". It goes on to say, "So that God could get great glory at Pharaoh's expense". God went on to perform all these great miracles, so everyone knew who the God of Israel was. It's all a part of his plan, so the Israelites could fulfill their purpose.
My point is: if God will put desires in other people that don't know him, that are not serving him to bring about his purpose, how much more will God put the desires in you, so you can fulfill your destiny? You don't have to fear the future, worry about what's ahead, "How do I know if this is the right choice"? Just keep honoring God. Your part is to commit your ways to him. Every morning, "Lord, let your will be done and not mine. I put your first place". God's part is to put the right desires in you. He's leading into the best plan that he's already laid out. You may not understand it all right now, but you can stay in peace, knowing that you're not going to miss your destiny. God knows how to make the desire strong enough to where you step into his will.
Think about with David. He was delivering lunch to his brothers, who were out on the battlefield. When he heard Goliath taunting the Israelites, making fun, daring them to fight, all of the sudden something rose up in David. He said "Who is this man, that he would defy the armies of the living God"? He had this desire to take on Goliath. Well, there were thousands of other Israeli soldiers, strong, brave, skilled, yet not one of them wanted to fight Goliath. They heard him day after day threatening them, they would run and hide, they were terrified. Here David was a teenager, a shepherd, he didn't have the training, the experience, the size. Yet, suddenly he knew he was supposed to take on Goliath.
One thing we know about David is he had a heart after God, he had committed his ways into God's hands. In turn, God put this desire in his heart. If it wasn't a God-given desire, David would have talked himself out of it. "Man, I'd like to fight him, but he's twice my size. I don't have a chance. I'll get out there and look like a fool". But when God puts the desire in you, he'll make it stronger than all the negative voices, all the doubt that tries to talk you out of it. When it's a God-given desire, you won't be moved by opposition, by how impossible it looks, by what people are telling you. There will be a boldness, a confidence to do what you know God put in your heart.
Paul said in Philippians 2:13, "God is working in you to give you the desire and the power do what pleases him". It's one thing to have the desire, that's great. But God doesn't stop there, he says "I'm going to give you the power to do it. I'm going to give you the favor. I'm going to give you the courage, the skill, the resources. You're going to feel a strength that you've never felt, ability that you've never had, favor like you've never seen". God doesn't just give you the desire, he gives you the ability to accomplish what he's put in your heart.
The scripture says David ran toward Goliath. All the other soldiers ran away from Goliath, they all ran and hid. But one teenager with nothing but a slingshot and a God-given desire took off running toward Goliath. He slung that rock, knocked him out. That day he became a national hero. But think about this: a few weeks earlier he was sitting in the shepherd's fields, alone, nobody paying attention. He had big dreams, but he didn't see how it would ever happen. Then in one moment God dropped a desire in his heart. That one victory catapulted David to a new level.
God has some of these destiny desires lined up for you, things he's going to drop in your heart. Others will think it's too big, doesn't make sense, they're intimidated. It's because God didn't put the desire in them. That desire is leading you down the best path, a path of abundance, a path of greater influence, a path of helping more people, making a bigger difference, seeing your gifts come out in greater ways.
"Well, Joel, I think I may have missed my chance. There were some good opportunities that I passed up. I was distracted, I was afraid, I didn't step out". No, when God puts the desire in you, it's going to be so strong you can't pass it out. He's not going to let you miss your purpose. God knows how to make you want to do his will. He'll give you the power to obey what he put in your heart.
From the time I was a little boy, I loved anything to do with cameras, and production, editing. 12 years old I was running a camera at the old church, doing the services. I'd come down on Saturdays as a teenager, and play with all the equipment. Graduated from high school, I went to college to learn more about production. I knew that's what I wanted to do with my life. After that first year, I felt so strongly that I was supposed to back home and start a television outreach at Lakewood. My father was fine with it, but my mother not so much. She said, "Joel, I never wanted you to drop out". I said, "Mother, I didn't drop out, I knocked it out, I took the one-year plan". My brother Paul went 11 years to become a surgeon, but some of us are more accelerated, and we don't need that long. God has a sense of humor. 25 years later that same university gave me an honorary doctorate degree. I didn't tell them I don't even have my bachelor's degree yet, but...
So, 7 years I worked behind the scenes here at Lakewood, doing the television production. And I was fulfilled, I love doing it, did my best to make my father look good, represent the church with excellence. During those years my father would try to get me up to minister, said "Joel, you'd be a great pastor, why don't you start speaking for me"? But I had no desire, not one part of me wanted to get up in front of people. Wasn't something I wrestled with, "Maybe I should, maybe I shouldn't", there was no question, that wasn't for me. But when my father passed in 1999, the strangest thing happened: all of the sudden I had the desire to pastor the church, I had a desire to get up in front of people. And yes, I was intimidated, I didn't feel qualified, doubt, the voices tried to talk me out of it, but what's significant is the desire was stronger than anything that was trying to hold me back.
God knows how to make his desires override all the negative things that could keep you from doing it. He's not only giving you the desire, but he's giving you the power to do it. That's why you don't have to second guess, "Man, did I miss my opportunity"? No, when God puts the desire, he'll make sure it's strong enough that you act on it.
Proverbs 16:9 says, "A man plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps". I had my plan imma work in television production, imma stay behind the scenes. That was right for the time. That was God leading me down the best path. But then God changed my plan. I know this is what God has called me to do, it's not a struggle, I don't dread at "Man, I have to get up in front of people, this is a pain". I love doing it. What changed? The desire. God is going to put the right desires at the right time, that's going to lead you into the best path for your life. You don't have to live stressed, "Is this the right decision? Should I go here? Is this my will or is this God's will"? You can stay in peace, knowing that because you've committed your ways to God, he's in control of your desires. You wouldn't be feeling that impression, you wouldn't be having that longing if he wasn't leading you in that direction.
In the scripture Nehemiah was working as a cup bearer for the king. He was living in Persia, a thousand miles away from his hometown of Jerusalem. His brother came to visit, and told how the people of Judah were in great danger. The walls of Jerusalem had been torn down, the gates pulled out. What could Nehemiah do about it? He is working in the kitchen. He could've told his brother, "You know, that's too bad. I hate hearing that". But suddenly God dropped a desire in Nehemiah to rebuild those walls. Didn't make sense to his mind, he didn't have the staff, the resources, the influence. But when it's a God-given desire, you don't talk yourself out of it. You don't come up with excuses. You know God will make a way, so you take steps of faith, you get out of your comfort zone, and do things you never thought you could do. That's God not just giving you the desire, but the power do what pleases him. When it's a destiny desire, there's a force breathing in your direction, pushing you forward, opening doors, causing people to be good to you. You're not stressed over how it's going to happen, you know it's going to happen.
Nehemiah he was quiet, reserved, he never made any waves, but now there's this new boldness, a confidence, the faith to believe for what seemed impossible. He went to the king and asked if he could take time off to go build the walls of Jerusalem. Imagine going to your boss tomorrow, saying "Can I have a year off to go home, take care of some family business"? But when God puts the desire in you, you not only have the want-to, but God gives you the favor to get it done. The king said, "Yes, Nehemiah, you can have the time off". He said, "Thank you so much, I'm very grateful, but I don't have any supplies, any materials, any funds". The king said, "Don't worry, I'll give you a letter, requiring people to give you everything that you need". The scripture says (Nehemiah 2:8), "The king granted him all his request, because the gracious hand of God was upon him".
Notice, God not only put the desire in him, but God put the favor on him, so he could see that desire come to pass. God never gives you the desire without the power, without the favor. You don't have to make all this happen, try to force doors to open, manipulate things, play up to people. Just keep God first place. Make pleasing him a priority, and God will put the right desires in you, he'll lead you down the best path. The best path is something you've never imagined. You have your plans, but you should see God's plans. His ways are better than our ways. He has exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond in your future. In my plan I never thought I'd be doing this. In David he never thought he'd be defeating a giant, become the king. Nehemiah's plan, he never thought he'd rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Who knows where God is taking you? There are desires he's going to put in your heart, that are going to boggle your mind. The beauty is you won't be talked out of it. He'll make it strong enough to override the doubt, the naysayers, the fear. You'll step into levels greater than you've ever imagined.
A friend of mine grew up in a very dysfunctional home, there's a lot of strife, they were very poor. As a young boy there were nights he'd have to leave the house, because of all the violence. He could have grown up bitter, angry, but his attitude was "I'm not going to live like this. I'm going to break this negative cycle, and do something productive with my life". There was a doctor in the small town in Alabama where they lived. He was the only man he saw that was successful, and always happy. He made up his mind as a young boy, that he was going to become a doctor, just like that man. He loved playing football. At 16 years old a friend invited him to a fellowship of Christian athletes meeting. He felt something that he had never felt. His family didn't know anything about God, but that night he gave his life to Christ.
He went to the University of Alabama, hoping to play football. They let him trial for the team. Against all odds, he made it. They give him a full scholarship. His senior year he was finishing up his premed classes, still planning to become a doctor. But he thought, "I'm not passionate about medicine anymore. I don't want to become a doctor", and he decided to go into health management. Graduated from college, had a job lined up. When his football coach called him, and said "I want you to come and work for me, being my assistant". He never thought about coaching, that wasn't even on his radar. He went to check it out, see what it was like, and he fell in love with it. He said, "This is what I was born to do".
When you keep God first, he'll guide you down the best path. He thought he wanted to become a doctor, at the time that's what he needed, that vision to go to school, to break out of the dysfunction. But God knows how to change your desires. He's doing this to align your will with his will. Had he not seen that doctor growing up, he'd never had a desire to go to college. Had he never gone to college he had never played for Alabama. Had he never played football, he'd never become an assistant coach. Had he never become an assistant, he would have never become the head coach of Clemson University, coach Dabo Swinney, who's won two national championships, one of the greatest college coaches of our day.
He had his plan, but God had another plan. I can assure you: God's plan is better than your plan. The beauty is: you don't have to figure it all out. All you have to do is commit your ways to God. Keep him first place, he'll put the right desires in you, he'll guide you down the best path for your life. "Well, Joel, I've had a lot of these desires a long time. A lot of things I've been dreaming about, something I want to become, but it hasn't happened". It either hasn't been the right time, or God has something better. Trust him. Believe what he promised, that he's giving you the right desires and the power to do what pleases him. Now, great prayer is, "Lord, thank you that my will is aligning with your will. Thank you, that you're in control of my desires. You know what's best for me. God, I trust you with my life".
Elisha was out working in a field, plowing with the bunch of his staff. There were 11 teams of oxen in front of him. He was leading the twelve team. He was a part of the family business, they were successful, had plenty of resources, and he was next in line to run it all. One day the prophet Elijah came by, threw his jacket on him, and said, "Come work for me". Why would Elisha want to leave? His future is set. He has all these resources, a staff, nice place to live. But suddenly God dropped the desire in Elisha. He felt it so strongly, "This is a part of your destiny. It's time to step out". The scripture says, "Elisha burned the plows, sacrificed the oxen, and went with Elijah to be his assistant". Sometimes what God puts in your heart doesn't make sense to other people. I'm sure he was the talk of the town, "Can you believe Elisha left everything to follow that old man? That prophet is kind of crazy". But God won't move you out, unless he has something better. Not long after that Elijah was taken to heaven, and Elisha received a double portion of his spirit. He performed twice as many miracles as Elijah.
God is going to put desires in you that are going to take you further than you can imagine. You think you've reached your limits, come on, as far as you can according to your education, your family, your income. But God is not limited by any of that. Because you keep him first, he's going to open doors you never dream would open, bring opportunity, influence, favor, resources. The best path is an abundant path, a favor-filled path, a bountiful path. How do you get there? Commit your ways to the Lord, he'll not only put the right desires in you, he'll make sure you have the power to do what pleases him. But what about when we're not putting God first? What about family, loved ones that are not committing their ways to him? How are they ever going to make right choices? God is so merciful, he'll still put desires in you. The scripture says, "He chose us before we could choose him".
17 years old my father was coming home from a nightclub, 2 o'clock in the morning. He didn't know anything about God. His family were good people, but they didn't have any kind of faith. Look like my father would continue down that same path. But for some reason that night he looked up at the stars, and begin to think about God, and what he was going to do with his life. That was God drawing my father in, giving him the desire to think about his Creator. He got home and saw the family Bible on the coffee table. It was just there for decoration. Something said to him, "Open it up". He opened it, it fell to a picture of Jesus standing at a door and knocking. The caption read, "If you'll open the door, I'll come in".
The next day he went to church with a friend, and gave his life to Christ. He felt this calling to become a minister. He told his family that he was going to leave the farm and go out and start ministering. Nobody had left the farm, where did this come from? That was God putting desires in my father, choosing him when he didn't know how to choose. Where would we be without the mercy of God? When we didn't keep him first, when we didn't listen to his voice, he still guided us, he still protected us. Parents, you may have children that are off course, doesn't look good. You keep praying, keep loving them, and at the right time God is going to give them new desires, his desires, desires that move them into their destiny.
I know today you have a heart after God or you wouldn't be here. You want to do the right thing or you wouldn't have tuned in. My encouragement is: you can trust God with your desires. He's not going to let you miss your destiny. Live from a place of peace, knowing that God is giving you the right desires, and the power to do what pleases him. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: you're going to see the best path for your life. Like with Elisha, something you've never imagined. Like with Nehemiah, favor that you've never seen. New doors are about to open, the right people are going to show up, healing, breakthroughs, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen?