Joel Osteen - Breaking Negative Cycles
I want to talk to you today about Breaking Negative Cycles. Most of the things we struggle with didn’t start with us, they’ve been passed down in our family line. You don’t get to choose your battles. You didn’t get to pick what you’ll have to deal with. Just as you inherit your parents DNA which determines your eye color, how tall you’ll be, what kind of hair you’ll have, you also inherit attitudes, habits, behaviors, from those that have gone before you. Research shows how depression can be passed down. Anger, low self-esteem, addictions. It was in your bloodline and it showed up with you. The scripture calls this an iniquity. That means a hereditary weakness. I’ve seen families where no one can get along. Parents arguing, cousins upset, siblings bitter, grandparents at odds. That’s a spirit of strife. A spirit of division that keeps getting passed down.
I knew this young man growing up. His father was indicted for fraud. He went to prison. The young man told me his grandfather was the same way. He was so upset with them, couldn’t understand why they make poor choices, why they’d cheat people? 20 years later, a friend called, said, "Did you hear about so and so? He just got in trouble for fraud". He didn’t choose it, it chose him. It will continue to go from generation to generation, until someone rises up and says, "I’m going to break this negative cycle." It didn’t start with you. The good news is, it can end with you. You can be the that affects generations to come. You can make it easier on your children and grandchildren.
It’s good to look back at your family history and see what are our strengths. What are we good at? What are we excel in? And what are the weaknesses? Where do I see a pattern of mediocrity, compromise, failure? When you understand those same spirits are coming after you, then you can be on guard. You can be and say, "No thanks. Depression, you’re not welcome here. No, thanks, I’m not giving in to this addiction, this compromise", or "No, thanks. I’m not living inferior, insecure, angry, bitter." Don’t let that iniquity continue on. It’s been in your family line, but the reason you’re hearing this is so you can put an end to it. I heard this phrase, "It ran in my family until it ran into me." You’re the difference maker. You’re called to set standards. You’re the exception. Everyone in your family was negative except you. Everyone was broke except you. Everyone addicted except you. Everyone bitter except you. I am looking at exceptional people. People that stand out, people that defy the odds, people that break barriers.
Numbers 25, the Israelites had gotten off course. This false prophet named Balaam encouraged the Midianite women to lure the Israelites into worshiping their idols. They fell right into that trap. They begin feasting with the Midianites and worshiping the god Baal. There were all kinds of immorality, and compromise going on. God was very displeased. This plague broke out and twenty-four thousand Israelites were killed. Looked like it would continue on it. Moses warned the people that they needed to change, but they weren’t listening. One of the Israelites took a Midianite woman into his tent, in defiance of what Moses said. Everyone was standing around watching, wondering what was going to happen. Then, a young man name Phinehas rose up, went into that tent, and put an end to it.
The scripture (Psalm 106:30) says, "Phinehas had the courage to step in and the plague was stopped." All this compromising, mediocrity, and one person stepped in and said, "I’m going to honor God. I’m going to live with integrity. I’m going to do the right thing", and the plague ended. You can stop the plague in your family. You can be the Phinehas. There may be negative baggage, people compromising, addictions, mediocrity. It just takes one Phinehas, one man, one woman to break the cycle of defeat. My prayer is, "God, give us Phinehas. Give us people who will rise up not just accept the dysfunction, not just live with the defeat, but will have the courage to make a difference, to put an end to what’s limiting us."
Phinehas had to kill the compromise, kill the disrespect, kill the worshiping of idols. It was drastic, it was extreme, but what you don’t kill will end up killing. And there are negative things in our family line that we have to say, "You cannot live in my life". It’s symbolic, you have to kill the anger, kill the addiction, kill the unforgiveness. You can stop the plague, but as long as you allow these things to live, it’s going to kill your dreams, kill your freedom, kill your purpose. Now, be a Phinehas. Have the courage to step up. Our attitude should be, "This may have been passed down, but it’s not going to past me. This is where it ends. This is where the depression stops. This is where the addiction, the low self-esteem, the poverty mindset comes to an end." Don’t live with the dysfunction, break the dysfunction.
"Well, nobody in my family is successful. We just barely get by". That’s what was passed down to you. That’s the way it’s been, but you’re a Phinehas. You’re putting an end to that. You’re called to rise higher. You can stop that plague. "Well, Joel, everyone in my family struggled with an addiction. We all compromise. We all have anger issues. We’re all insecure." That would be a good excuse to stay that way, if not for one thing: you’re a Phinehas. You have the courage to step in. God has destined you to break that negative cycle, to set your family on a new course, to reach levels that you’ve never seen. Now, don’t miss your chance. This is a window of opportunity. A door that will not always be open. It may be difficult, but God won’t ask you to do something, and then not give you the grace to do it.
Your children are counting on you. Your great grandchildren, their destinies hang in the balance. Will they deal with the same things you do? Will there still be these plagues so to speak? Dysfunction, addiction, strife, or will you put an end to it? Will you be the one to break the negative cycle and stop the plague? I already know the answer: I’m looking at Phinehas’s. I’m looking at barrier breakers. I’m looking at people who are called, equipped, and anointed. The power in you is greater than any power that’s trying to stop you. You’re going to feel a new sense of courage. God’s favor is going to be on you in a greater way. Things you’ve struggled with in the past are not going to be a struggle anymore. Chains that have held you back are being broken. Strongholds that have kept you captive are coming down. God’s going to do what you can’t do on your own.
This is a new day. Things have shifted. Whatever you’ve given up on, whatever you’ve accepted, thought how that could never happen, try it again. When you make a move, God is going to breathe in your direction. When you stand for righteousness, when you refuse to compromise, when you say "No, I’m not hanging around these same friends that are pulling me down." When you break out that negative mindset, and believe bigger, pray bolder, dream larger, you’re going to see the hand of God turn things around, break addictions, bring you out of that dysfunction, promote you to levels that you never thought possible.
Think about all those people living with the plague, and one man did something about it. One man broke that cycle that had killed twenty-four thousand people. How many people are going to live better off because you had the courage to step up? How many of your relatives will look back and think, "Wow, thank God Phinehas. Thank God for Julie. Thank God for uncle Robert. Thank God for Marcella. Now, we’re free. Now, we’re blessed. Now, we’re confident. Now, we’re successful." Because you’re a Phinehas, because you killed what could have killed you, you’re impacting generations to come. You’re one of those heroes of fame.
"Well, Joel, I don’t think you’re talking about me, man. I’m not a Phinehas. I still struggle with an addiction. I still have a problem with my temper. I’m still insecure. I’m still in lack, in poverty." Let me let me encourage you, Phinehas is in you. The barrier breaker is in you. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in you. Yes, there’s a battle in your bloodline, the good news is, you’re going to win. That Phinehas spirit is going to rise up in a new way, and you’re going to put a stop to what’s stopping you. Those weaknesses that have been passed down are just what they’re called. They’re weak. They’re no match for you.
Friend of mine, he was raised in a good family. When he was a toddler, his father in his early 20s, got a job at this large transportation company and he was at an entry-level position, out washing vehicles. He was a hard worker, always on time, went the extra mile. Those were the good things that had been passed down. We all have these positive attributes in our family line, people that have passed down courage, talent, good attitudes. The key to take the positive, build on the good things, and leave the negative behind. Well, this man’s parents and grandparents, they were good people, but they struggled with alcohol. Over time, they both ended up becoming alcoholics. That was the environment he was raised in. Well, he received promotion after promotion, from out in the field washing cars to supervising the department. Then, the head of operations. 10 years later, he was in senior management.
Everything was going great. His family being blessed, but in this new position, the people he worked with would go out several times a week at lunch and drink. They called it liquid lunch. He never touched alcohol, knowing what his parents and grandparents struggled with, but he didn’t want to see mod, like he was too square, so he started drinking. Just a few times a week, no big deal. He didn’t realize that alcohol gene was lying dormant in his DNA. He was predisposed to alcoholism, that was passed down to him. He made the mistake of waking up that gene. He started drinking more and more. The scripture says (Ephesians 4:27), "Don’t give the enemy a foothold." Don’t open the door. If you crack it a little bit, he’s going to push and push. He’d love for all that negative baggage to go from generation to generation, from you to your children, to your grandchildren.
Before long, it started affecting this father. He started showing up late to work, started missing in appointments. He got to where some days, he wouldn’t come home from work. Wasn’t with the family anymore. Got so bad, he lost that job. Started living in shelters. My friend told me how they were the perfect family, living the American dream, and then alcoholism destroyed their life. My friend is in the entertainment industry now, he’s very successful. He said, "Joel, I don’t touch alcohol. Not because of religious reasons, but I know that I’m predisposed to alcoholism." It’s been in his family line so strong. He seen how it’s destroyed his home, has caused so much trauma and pain. Now, he’s making the choice to not wake up that gene, to not give it life. He’s killing it before it kills him.
When you look back in your family line, and you see things that caused heartache, and pain, and things that kept people from their potential, it’s important to recognize that those genes are passed down. Your predisposed to that. But here’s the beauty, that doesn’t mean automatically going to happen. You get to choose whether you activate that gene or whether you leave it lying dormant. His father activated it, and it ruined his life. His son chose to leave it dormant, and he’s living a blessed, free, favor-filled life. Alcoholism ran in his family until it ran into him. He was a Phinehas. He had the courage to step up and put an end to it. His attitude was, "This alcoholism didn’t start with me, but he’s going to stop with me. I’m the difference maker". I know some of you think, "Well, Joel, it’s too late for me. I’ve already activated that gene." No, you can deactivate it. You have the power to turn it off. You’re the one to break the negative cycle.
Now, it may not be alcohol for you. It may be bitterness, low self-esteem, anger. There’s a gene lying dormant. Don’t wake that up. Don’t open that door. You’re going to be tempted. Sure, there’ll be plenty of opportunities. My friend told how in the entertainment industry, practically at every event, every meeting, there alcoholic. People expect him to drink. Ask him how he dealt with it. He said, "Joel, I’m bold about it. When people pressure me, I say, 'listen, I come from a family of alcoholics. I’ve seen it ruin their life, and I’m not going to let it ruin mine.'" When you look back at your history, there may be things that are fine for other people, but you know, you shouldn’t do it, because you’ve been predisposed to it. You don’t want to wake up that gene. Be aware and be diligent. Don’t play with fire. Don’t think you can compromise just a little, be dishonest just a little, run with the wrong crowd just a little. No, it’s not worth the chance. What are you going to wake up? What genes are you going to activate?
God told Phinehas, "Because you had the courage to step up and stop this plague, I’m going to make a covenant of peace with you. You and your descendants will be priests for all time." Look at how God works. When you step up and put an end to the plague, when you stop the negative baggage, the addiction, the depression, the lack, God says, "I’m not only going to honor you and your family, but I’m going to show favor to your descendants. I’m going to place a lasting blessing on your family line."
I know today, I’m walking in favor, because of those that went before me. I’m walking in blessings, because I had people that honored God. My father broke the negative cycle of poverty in our family. He was raised very poor, many times, they didn’t have money for food and clothing. Looked like that poverty spirit, that lack mentality, that defeat mindset would be passed down to him. But at 17 years old, when he gave his life to Christ, the first one in his family, something rose up in him. He said, "My children will never be raised in the poverty and defeat that I was raised in." That gene was there, but he deactivated it. He was a Phinehas. He said, "This plague is stopping with me." He didn’t just sit back, he took steps of faith. He had to hitchhike. He didn’t have a car, but he left the farm and went out and started ministering. God opened doors, made ways.
My father left our family blessed, successful, not just with resources, but with a new mindset, that our God is all powerful. That when you believe, he can take you where you’ve never dreamed. That when you honor him, he’ll open door that no person can shut. He’ll bring you Compaq Centers. He’ll heal you from cancer. Our children have enough things to deal with, I don’t want them predisposed to doubt, predisposed to fear, predisposed to addictions, compromise. I want them predisposed to faith, predisposed to blessings, predisposed to godliness, to integrity, to generosity. I want them to succeed because of me, and not in spite of me.
In the scripture, Isaac was very old and about to pass, and he was nearly blind. He sent word for his son, Esau, to come and he would give him the blessing that belonged to the firstborn son. Well, his wife, Rebecca, loved their son Jacob more than Esau. She told Jacob to dress up like Esau, go in and pretend to be his brother, so he could get the best blessing. Esau was very hairy. So, she made Jacob some animal skin to put on his arms. Jacob went in, tricked his father and received the blessing. It wasn’t just the mother that was deceitful, Jacob had that same spirit. He was dishonest. He had tricked his brother earlier out of his birthright. It didn’t didn’t stop there, his uncle Laban was dishonest. He tricked Jacob. He said he was giving him one daughter in marriage, but when Jacob wake up woke up the morning after the wedding, he looked over in bed and it was the other sister. Surprise!
Notice how the same spirit traveled through the family line. Deceit, manipulation, dishonesty, that’s not a coincidence. That’s a spirit that keeps getting passed down. It just needs a Phinehas, for someone to rise up to say, "No, we’re not going to live like that. I recognize what’s happening. I’m going to live as a person of honor, true to my word with integrity".
One time, Abraham had traveled to a new city. His wife, Sarah, was very beautiful, and he was afraid people would kill him so they could have her. So, He lied and told King Abimelech that Sarah was his sister, that they weren’t married. The king later found out the truth. Well, eventually, Abraham passed. Years later, his son, Isaac, was traveling through the same city. His wife, Rebecca, was very beautiful. Isaac was afraid that trying to get rid of him to have her, he told King Abimelech, the same king, that Rebecca was his sister and not his wife. It’s interesting how these negative traits keep getting passed down. It’s the same way today. It can be as spirit of low self esteem. Everyone in your family feels unworthy, not good enough, not attractive. Do yourself a favor: be a Phinehas. Put an end to it. You are made in the image of God. You have royal blood flowing through your veins. Turn that unworthy, inferior gene off. Let it stay dormant.
Maybe it’s a spirit of mediocrity: no one in your family can get ahead, you’re not expecting anything good. "Joel, we’re just average people." You have to get rid of that spirit. It’s been passed down long enough, it ran in your family. The good news is: it ran into you. You’re the Phinehas. Get your passion back. Start expecting to rise higher. Start declaring God’s promises over your life. Don’t let those negative cycles continue. You’re the one to break it.
It’s good to ask yourself, "Why do I struggle in this area? Why do I feel like I’m not good enough? Why am I drawn to compromise, to addictions, to manipulation?" Those are you didn’t choose. Battles that didn’t start with you, they were passed down, but they can stop with you. You can be the Phinehas. May not be easy, but if you’ll make a move, God will make a move. If you’ll take a step of faith, God will give you the grace to do what you can’t do on your own. He’s just waiting for you to rise up. That may mean to forgive, to get rid of the bitterness. It may mean to get help with the addiction, to attend our freedom class. It may mean, like my father, to have a new mindset, to not accept defeat, mediocrity as your destiny, but to have a new vision, to believe that you can leave your mark.
You have to deactivate those negative traits that have been passed down. You didn’t have anything to do with it, it’s an iniquity, something you inherited. But God wouldn’t have allowed it if it was going to keep you from your destiny. You can break that negative cycle, and be the one to set your family on a new course.
In the Old Testament, God told Saul to go out to destroy the Amalekites, to not spare anyone or anything. Saul went out and defeated the enemy, but he spared King Agag. When he returned home, the prophet Samuel came and said, "Saul, God told you to destroy the entire army, but you’ve spared the king". Fast forward, hundreds of years later, Esther was in the palace, a man by the name of Haman was trying to get rid of her and all of the Jews. It says that Haman was an Agite. An Agite was a descendant of King Agag. If Saul would have taken care of his enemy when God gave him the power to do it, then Esther wouldn’t have this problem 500 years later.
Could it be if you don’t rise up and put a stop to what’s hindering you, then hundreds of years from now, your family will still be struggling with it? God is saying, "This is your time. This is your moment. Your destiny is calling out to you." You can either put up with it, let it conquer you, or you can put your foot down and say, "No, I’m going to be a Phinehas. I’m going to put a stop to what’s holding us back. I’m going to deal with this addiction, this anger, this compromise, this depression. I’m not going to let my history keep me from my destiny."
Yes, we all have negative things in our family line, but when you gave your life to Christ, you became a new creation. He put some new genes in you. There is strength in your genes. There is freedom in your genes. There is health, abundance, joy, victory is in your genes. "Well, Joel, this is encouraging, but everyone in my family gets divorced. Everyone has addictions. Everyone struggles in their finances." Here’s the catch: you’re not everyone. You’re the exception. You’re the Phinehas. You have more knowledge than they had. The favor on your life is stronger. The blessing greater. The anointing more powerful. They may have lived with it, but you were raised up to put an end to it. You’re the difference maker. You can break the negative cycle.
1974, a member of the New York Prison Board noticed that there were six people from the same family serving in one of the prisons. He was intrigued by it, and did a study. He traced their family line back to a man by the name of Max Jukes. He was born in 1720. He was known in the town as the troublemaker, heavy drinker, no integrity. He married a woman just like him. They had six daughters, and two sons. 1200 of their descendants were studied. Of those, 310 were homeless, 180 alcoholics, 160 were drug addicts, 150 became criminals and served time in prison.
Another family was studied that lived around that same time, his name was Jonathan Edwards. He was a famous theologian, and the president of Princeton University. He married his wife Sarah, they had 11 children. He was a devoted family man that honored God. 1,400 of their descendants were studied. Among them, 13 were college presidents, 65 were professors, 100 were lawyers, 66 physicians, 85 were authors of classic books, 32 were state judges, 80 were holders of public office, including 3 US senators, 3 governors, and one vice president of the United States.
It makes a difference what you’re passing down. Your choices will affect generations to come. You may have things in your family line that have been there for generations: addictions, poverty, divorce. It’s going to stay there until somebody rises up and puts a stop to it. I’m saying: you’re the Phinehas. You’re the one God has raised up to break the negative cycle. This is not an option: You have to kill it or it will kill you. It will kill your dreams, kill your potential, kill your purpose. There’s a battle in your bloodline. You didn’t choose it, but you can win it. The forces that are for you are greater than any force that is against you. If you will rise up and be a Phinehas, I believe and declare: like God did for him, there’s going to be a blessing on your family line. You’re going to see favor that you’ve never seen. Addictions are being broken, depression, strive, low self-esteem in the name of Jesus. You’re going to rise higher, and become all you were created to be. And if you receive it, can you say amen today? Amen.