Joel Osteen - Your Faith - (Stronger Than You Think)
As we go through life fighting the good fight of faith, one challenge we all have to face is weariness. It's easy to get tired. You can be raising great children, but because you're weary, you're not enjoying them. You can have the job of your dreams. You worked hard to get there, but weariness has set in. You're not passionate about it anymore. Sometimes we become weary because the battle is taking longer than we thought. If the enemy can't take you out all at once, his next strategy is to try to wear you down. Many people are suffering from battle fatigue. They've been standing a long time, trying to break the addiction, believing for the promotion, but it hasn't happened yet. They didn't think they'd still be single, still dealing with the sickness, still trying to get the loan. Now they're tired.
The Apostle Paul said in Galatians 6, "Don't get weary in well doing". God knew weariness would come, otherwise he wouldn't have told us not to get weary. He says to not get weary in well doing. That means you're doing the right thing, but not getting the right result. Doesn't seem as though it's making any difference. Let me encourage you that your time is coming. Don't let time talk you out of it. Don't let discouragement cause you to give up. When thoughts tell you, "It's never going to change. It's been too long," instead of dwelling on that, just say, "No thanks, I know God is still on the throne. I know my time is coming. I've been armed with strength for this battle. I can do all things through Christ. I'm strong in the Lord".
The psalmist says to take hold of God's strength. It's available, but we have to take hold of it. This is what David did. He was doing the right thing, but the wrong thing kept happening to him. Even after Samuel anointed him to be the next king, his family looked down on him, treated him like he was second-class. He could've been sour, upset. Instead, he kept taking care of his father's sheep, doing it with excellence. How did David keep going strong? He understood this principle. When you give into weariness, you lose your strength. When you start thinking, "I'm too tired. It's never going to work out. This isn't fair," the energy you need to keep moving forward is drained out.
Now, I'm not saying to never feel weariness, 'cause it will come. I'm saying don't allow it in. Don't let weariness stop your dreams from coming to pass. You are closer than you think. You are stronger than you think. When it's the most difficult, when you face the greatest temptation to settle, that means the victory is near. The breakthrough, the healing, the promotion is about to show up. Your due season is close.
David had been anointed by Samuel as a teenager to be the next king of Israel. 13 years went by, there was no sign of it happening. One day when he and 600 of his men came home from a time of service to the king of Gath, they found their city had been attacked and burned. All their possessions had been carried away. Their families had been taken captive. It was the worst day of David's life, his darkest hour. The Scripture says he and his men wept until they could not weep anymore. David was depressed, discouraged. His own men talked about stoning him. I'm sure he was tempted to think, "God, this is the final straw. I'm tired. I've been doing the right thing year after year. I can't take this anymore. I'm done".
Weariness comes to us all. David could've given up. That would be the end of his story. He would've never taken the throne and see the promise come to pass. But when he was tired, when he felt like throwing in the towel, he did what we all must do. He dug his heels in and said, "I've come too far to stop now". The Scripture says in 1 Samuel 30, "David encouraged himself in the Lord his God". He made a decision, "I'm not allowing this weariness to stay. I'm gonna stir up my faith". While the other men were weeping, discouraged, complaining, I can hear David saying, "I am strong in the Lord. I'm anointed. I'm well able. The forces that are for me are greater than the forces that are against me".
You can talk yourself into defeat or you can talk yourself into victory. When you speak to yourself the right way, strength comes, courage comes, vision comes, healing comes. The Prophet Isaiah said, "If you wait upon the Lord, he will renew your strength. You will mount up with wings like eagles. You will run and not be weary. You will walk and not faint". To wait on the Lord doesn't mean to sit back passively, to be idle. "Okay God, do it. I'm tired. I'm worn out. Renew my strength". No, those who wait are described in one version as those who look for God's goodness, who expect his favor, who long for his blessing.
Waiting is supposed to be active. Lord, I thank you that you're turning this situation around. Thank you that you're bigger than this cancer, stronger than these people that are coming against me. Thank you that you're bringing these dreams to pass. David not only stirred himself up, but he got his men stirred back up. They went out and attacked the enemy, and recovered everything that was stolen. Three days later, King Saul was killed in a battle by the Philistines. David was anointed to be the king of Judah. That was 13 years after Samuel had anointed David as king.
Here's my point. He was closest to his victory when he faced his greatest challenge. Stay encouraged when it seems like everything's coming against you, when it's taking a long time. Now you're facing a new problem. The medical report's not good. Business went down. The situation at work intensified. When that weariness is trying to overtake you, that's a sign that you're close to your victory, that things are about to turn around. The breakthrough's on the way. The promotion's coming. The healing's coming.
Don't get weary in well doing. It may not happen overnight, but you have to do like David and be in it for the long haul. During those 13 years while he waited for the promise, he had to deal with battle fatigue. Thoughts told him, "It's never gonna happen. You wouldn't have these challenges if you were going to be the king. Samuel must have got it wrong". Weariness came knocking on his door again and again. I think it's the same way with us. Let me encourage you. What God promised, he's still going to bring to pass. You may have given up, but God hasn't. Start taking hold of his strength. All through the day, "Lord, thank you that you're renewing my strength. Thank you that I'm strong in the Lord. Thank you that I will soar like an eagle". If you'll stay in faith, God will not only renew your strength, but he'll renew your health, renew your marriage, restore your business. He'll make a way where you don't see a way.
Joel Osteen: Daddy was raised on a farm and came out of poverty, you know, just very poor. Went through the Great Depression. But at 17 years old, he gave his life to Christ, the first one in his family, and that's amazing how God put the dream in his heart right then as a teenager that one day he would pastor a church with thousands of people. And fast forward, Daddy began pastoring a great church here in Houston and things were going good. He had a church of a thousand. They'd just built a new sanctuary. And Lisa, that's when you were born with a birth injury, something like cerebral palsy. And you know, Daddy began to search the scriptures, and they weren't taught that healing was for today, and Daddy saw that Jesus was a healer. He came back and he started talking to his church about that. Long story short, he and Mother had to leave that church, and God opened up a door for them to rent that feed store that just had 90 people, but Daddy started over again. And they had less than 200 people for ten years, ten or 11 years, and he's like, "Man, God, I came, I had you put this big dream in my heart, and I had a somewhat big church, and now I went the wrong way". I think about now how Daddy could've thought, "God, where are you? Why was my daughter born with cerebral palsy"? or something like that, or "Why did this church kinda kick me out"? It's easy to, you know, just to let the defeat get on the inside, and live negative, and give up on your dreams, but you know, in retrospect, it was the faithfulness of Daddy and Mama and those 90 people back there that stayed faithful that we're getting to reap the benefits of today. Again, it's a man that didn't get bitter, a man that didn't try to understand the plan of God, 'cause sometimes you're not gonna understand it. Sometimes it doesn't make sense, 'cause God may take you forward and then there's time you go backwards, but you just gotta say, "Okay, God, it's a part of your plan". Think about Joseph, you know? God put the big dream. He gets betrayed by his brothers. He gets sold into slavery. He gets put in prison. All these steps along the way, going like, "God, I must've heard you wrong or you forgot about me". But it was all working to 13 years later when he became the prime minister of Egypt. So we just have to stay faithful and say, "You know what? I'm not gonna get bitter. God, I'm gonna trust you. I'm gonna do the right thing when the wrong things happen".
Lisa Osteen Comes: I think about Jehoshaphat, Joel, in the Bible, and how at one time he and his men were faced by three armies. I mean, totally outnumbered and they didn't know what to do, but I'll never forget what he prayed. It was such a powerful prayer of faith. He said, "God, I don't know what to do, but my eyes are on you". And I think it's in those times where we don't understand, "Why isn't the dream coming to pass? Why isn't my church growing? Why isn't it happening"? we just say, "God, I don't know what to do, but my eyes are on you". See, just keep being faithful and keep your eyes on Jesus because he's gonna bring it to pass. And to tell you the truth, as soon as Jehoshaphat prayed that, the prophet began to speak by the Holy Spirit and told him exactly what to do, and God caused the enemy armies to just turn on themselves and kill one another. And so they didn't even have to fight the battle themselves, all because Jehoshaphat just surrendered to God and said, "I'm gonna keep my eyes on you no matter what I see right now".
Joel Osteen: Yeah, it's so important.
Victoria Osteen: You know, in the practical, like, I know when I get discouraged and I think, "Why is this happening"? you know, most of us think, "Well, God, I was doing what you told me to do. Now this is happening". But I'm learning, and relearning, and relearning, and relearning that to keep my eyes on God, I have to be grateful. You know, I really have to not just be grateful for those big things, but really be grateful for the small things every single day, because that keeps my eyes on God. Thankfulness isn't just a cliche word, it's a principle of God and it opens your heart for God to do amazing things in your life.
Joel Osteen: I think, too, another important part of not getting bitter and, "God, well, why did this happen to me"? when you face disappointments and setbacks, you know, the Scripture talks about David, when he faced one of his greatest challenges, that he encouraged himself in the Lord his God. And sometimes it's up to us and God, you know? We love to turn on the TV and somebody encourage or have a friend encourage you, but there are times that you have to just keep yourself encouraged. Again, it's great to have other people encourage you, but I think if you're gonna live a consistent life of victory, you have to get up each day and, "God, I thank you it's a day that you have made". Just all through the day, let that gratefulness and that praise come up out of your spirit. Even if it's not out loud, just in your thoughts, "Lord, I'm grateful for your goodness in my life".
Lisa Osteen Comes: Yeah, and to encourage yourself in the Lord means that you, instead of just sitting there and thinking hopeless thoughts or laying in bed and thinking, "I don't wanna get out of bed," it means you just stop the cycle and you get up. Maybe you need to go outside. Maybe you need to call somebody. Maybe you need to just get up and say, "I'm not gonna stay in this place. I'm gonna take the Word of God. I'm gonna encourage myself in the Lord. I'm gonna turn on some worship music". Change your atmosphere. Call somebody about that. But it's just not staying and remaining in that place of that cycle of negativity, but getting up and doing something about it.
Joel Osteen: I just think it's important to know that God's got it all figured out. There are things that we're not going to understand: the disappointments, the wrong turns, and "God, I'm going to this direction and I thought I'm supposed to go there". But you have to trust him and you have to know that, you know, you have everything you need. It says he's armed you with strength for every battle, and so I think we just have to keep being faithful, doing the right thing, and you'll see the plan of God begin to unfold in your life.
Lisa Osteen Comes: And you know, the fact that I was born with this crippling disease, the doctor's said I'd never be able to walk or talk, and yet it brought my mom and dad into the truth of the Word of God, that God is still a healer. You know, God healed me before I was one year of age, and then he began to teach about healing and miracles. And you know, all these years, how many years now, 60-something years, we have seen so many people healed, and not only physically, but of broken hearts, and healed of losses and different things. We've seen so many people set free and we've seen God do so many miracles in the lives of people. And so that setback for a time was really a setup for God to bring us into a greater place, and really to give glory to God more than ever before.
We all have dreams and goals, things we know God has promised us. We started off excited. We were sailing along, making progress. Then a storm arises, unexpected challenge, sickness, breakup, lose a loved one, contract we were counting on doesn't go through. It's easy to get discouraged and think, "It's never going to happen," but God doesn't promise something and then change his mind. He doesn't put a dream in your heart and then take it back. When it's all said and done, what God promised will come to pass. He's directing your steps. He may not have sent the storm, but he is in control of the storm. And here's the test. Will you trust him even though the winds are blowing, you don't see any sign of it improving? Will you stay in faith even though every thought says it's never going to work out?
This is what the Apostle Paul did in Acts chapter 27. He was a prisoner on a boat where he was headed to Rome. He'd been arrested in Jerusalem, having been falsely accused of causing a disturbance. Even though he was found not guilty, he appealed his case to Caesar. And as they were sailing on this several-month journey, a huge storm arose with hurricane force winds. The waves were big, tossing the boat up and down. For 14 days, it didn't let up. They didn't see the sun or the stars. The boat had gotten so torn up that it was taking on water. The crew started throwing the cargo and the supplies overboard. They had even quit eating. The Scripture says all hope was gone. They were convinced they were going to die. But in the midst of this storm, an angel appeared to Paul and said, "Don't be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand before Caesar. What's more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you".
Paul had this promise that he would make it to Rome, but all the circumstances said it would never happen. Everywhere he looked, the winds, the waves, the crew said he was not going to make it. He could've thought, "God, I must've heard you wrong. I thought you said I'd stand before Caesar, but I'm on a sinking boat in the middle of the sea, stuck in a hurricane".
Sometimes what God promised looks just the opposite of what we see. God, you said I was gonna get well, but all I see is sickness. You said I'd lend and not borrow, but I see lack and struggle. You said my children would be mighty in the land, but I see compromise and addictions. You can't be moved by what you see. You have to be moved by what you know. Don't let circumstances talk you out of what God has spoken to you. When it looked impossible, no sign of things improving, Paul went before the crew and said, "It's gonna be all right. Get something to eat. God promised that not only would I stand before Caesar, but everyone sailing with me would be saved". The next verse is the key. He said, "I believe it will be just as God said". God can make all kinds of promises, but unless you take this next step and say, like Paul did, "I believe what God promised will come to pass," the promises won't do you any good.
You have to mix faith with it. When Paul told the crew that they were going to be saved, there's no doubt that waves were splashing him in the face. The wind was almost knocking him down. He has to hold onto something in order to stand up. It had been like that for two weeks. Paul could've been depressed, complaining like the rest of them, but he was talking about what God had promised. He was speaking life in the face of death. He was talking victory in the middle of defeat. In the midst of the storm, you have to declare what God promised. I'm coming out. This too shall pass. Not moved by what I see. Not worried about the winds or the waves, the people who are trying to stop me. I believe what God said will come to pass.
The angel said, "Paul, everyone sailing with you will be saved". It's interesting that Paul was the prisoner. He had no authority or influence on that boat. The others saw him as insignificant, secondary, just another convict we have to transport. They thought Paul was sailing with them, but God said, "Paul, everyone sailing with you will be saved".
The enemies who look down on you may think they have the upper hand. Don't worry, because you're not sailing with them. They're sailing with you. You may be in the boat of the opposition, so to speak. Seems as though you're at a disadvantage at work, school. People don't determine your destiny. They can't stop God's plan for your life. They may be on their boat, but remember, they are sailing with you. God is going to get you to where you're supposed to be. Without Paul on that boat, all the people would've perished. The hurricane would've caused it to sink. There was no chance in the natural. All the circumstances said it was doomed. Would've looked just like bad luck, but there was a man on the boat with a calling on his life, a man with a purpose, with a destiny.
God is showing us that a storm cannot stop what God has purposed. You may be in a situation that doesn't look good. It would stop most people, but it can't stop you. Why? You're a Paul. You have a purpose, an assignment. There's a calling on your life. God has ordained something for you to accomplish. There's a Caesar whom you've been called to stand before. It's not an option, God has purposed it. The destiny for you is bigger than the storm around you. The purpose in you cannot be stopped by the waves, by people, by opposition. Stay in faith. God works where there's this attitude of faith.
If Paul would've said, "God, I don't see how I can stand before Caesar. I'm a prisoner. These people don't like me. I'm in a hurricane," don't let doubt stop your purpose. Don't let the storm talk you out of your destiny. You don't have to see how it's going to happen, all you have to do is believe. In the face of the opposition with the winds and the rain coming against you, dare to say, like Paul, "God, I believe just what you promised will come to pass".
After weathering the storm for two weeks, Paul's boat came across an island with a bay off in the distance. They tried to steer that way, but the winds were too strong. When they got close, the boat hit a sandbar and broke apart. Now they were all in the water. They grabbed pieces of the boat and began to swim for the shore. In a few hours, all 276 people made it safely to the island. Not one person lost their life, just as God promised. When they hit the bottom, the boat broke apart, I'm sure some of them panicked and thought, "This is it. We're done. The boat is gone. We don't have a chance," but they made it to the shore without the boat. God is saying, "You're going to make it without what you thought you had to have. You're gonna make it without what you lost. You're gonna make it without the boat".
What you have left is what you need. There's power in the broken pieces. It may not look like much, but when God breathes on them, you'll get to shore. I believe and declare you're still going to get well. You're still going to break the addiction. You're still going to pay your house off. Favor is coming. Healing is coming. Breakthroughs, divine connections, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus's name.
You don't have to go through life weary and discouraged. You may have been in a challenge a long time. You're dealing with battle fatigue, but this is a new day. God's breathing new life into your dreams. Dare to take hold of his strength. Get your fire back. When you feel weak, start declaring, "I am strong". If you'll do this, I believe and declare you're going to run and not be weary. Courage is coming. Energy is coming. Vitality is coming. God is renewing your strength so you can soar like the eagles. You are stronger than you think.