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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Joel Osteen » Joel Osteen - Who Do You Say You Are? - (Stronger Than You Think)

Joel Osteen - Who Do You Say You Are? - (Stronger Than You Think)

Joel Osteen - Who Do You Say You Are? - (Stronger Than You Think)
TOPICS: Joel Osteen: You Are Stronger Than You Think, Self-esteem, Identity, Encouragement, Strength

I know a woman who has struggled with depression for years. She's always been so strong, so determined, but when I saw her recently, she was very discouraged. She said, "I don't know if I have any fight left in me. I can't do it anymore". Sometimes we see that as a lack of faith, but God doesn't expect you to be strong all the time. Now, the weight of what we're facing has left us exhausted. The good news is God doesn't fault us for feeling weak. The Scripture says when we are weak, he is strong. When you feel overwhelmed, like you can't go on, he comes in and gives you special strength, strength that you didn't get on your own. You may feel weak, fatigued, but that's not your destiny. You are going to run and not be weary. You're going to walk and not faint. There's going to be a strength that's not natural but supernatural.

This is what happened with the prophet, Elijah, 1 Kings chapter 18. There had been a drought in Samaria for 3½ years. Without rain, the Israelites were going to perish: no food, no way to grow crops. Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and began to pray for rain, but nothing happened. He prayed again and again, had his assistant keep going out checking the weather, looking for clouds forming over the sea, but still nothing. Finally, on the seventh time, his assistant saw a small cloud starting to form in the sky. Elijah sent that assistant to tell King Ahab that he'd better get in his chariot and quickly leave because a huge downpour was coming.

The Scripture says: "Then the Lord gave Elijah special strength and he outran the king's chariot to Jezreel". Jezreel wasn't next door to Mount Carmel. It was a 20-mile journey. A horse can run twice as fast as an average man. Man can only sustain that top speed for a short distance. On top of this, I'm sure Elijah was tired, living in the midst of a severe famine, not having proper food. How could he outrun a chariot? That's not possible. But God gave him special strength. You may look at what you're up against and think, "Man, I don't have the strength, I don't have the stamina, the endurance, the fortitude. Maybe I did years ago, when I was at the top of my game, but now I'm tired". No, get ready, for special strength is headed your way.

Jezreel was known as the city of chariots. It had a vast fleet of these powerful vehicles that could swiftly move them into battle. Enemies knew not to come against Jezreel. It's significant that Elijah outran Ahab's chariot. I can imagine Elijah standing before King Ahab as he sat in his big, impressive, state-of-the-art chariot. Ahab had his drivers upfront, his staff in the back. Elijah looked up, said to King Ahab, "You have a powerful army, you command a vast fleet of these chariots, pulled by these fast, strong horses. I don't have your equipment. I don't have your horses. I don't even have a chariot, but I'm not worried because I don't need what you have. I'm going to outrun you to Jezreel". I can hear Ahab laughing. "What are you talking about, Elijah? These are the fastest horses of our day. These are the most skilled drivers. This chariot just won the JD Power Chariot of the Year Award. You can't outrun me". But the Scripture says that Elijah ran ahead of the chariot the whole way, for 20 miles.

When God gives you special strength, you're going to accomplish things you never dreamed you could accomplish. You're going to overcome opposition that's more powerful, that has more resources. You may not be up against a chariot, but when you look at the cancer, it seems so much bigger. The addiction, the trouble at work, the slowdown in your business. You don't see how you're going to make it. On top of that, you're tired. But right now, God is breathing special strength into you.

Like Elijah, you're going to have the endurance, the stamina, the fortitude to do what you can't do on your own. You may think, "How can I raise my children, take care of my elderly parents at the same time? How can I make it through this treatment? How can I overcome this anxiety"? The prophet Isaiah said, "God gives strength to the weary. He increases the power of the weak". You may be weary today. The good news is strength is coming. It's not something that you have to muster up, you have to make happen. It's the hand of God lifting you, empowering you with special strength. Sometimes, he uses people.

On one occasion, when Joshua and the Israelites were in a valley, fighting the Amalekites, Moses stood on top of the hill and held his rod up in the air. As long as his rod was up, the Israelites were winning. When he put it down, the Amalekites would prevail. It was a long battle. Moses got tired. So God sent two men, Aaron and Hur, to help. They stood on each side of Moses and they held his hands up for him. God has the right people who will be there to help hold up your hands. When I look back over my life, I can see the times where God gave me special strength. When my father went to be with the Lord, and I stepped up to pastor Lakewood, that should have overwhelmed me, caused me to lose my passion, not be able to move forward. But I felt a power rising up in me that I'd never felt, a strength, a courage, a determination, a stamina. That wasn't just me being strong. That was God giving me special strength.

Several months before Jesus was crucified, he went up on a high mountain with Peter, James, and John. There, Jesus's appearance changed and his face shone like the sun. His clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared before them and started talking with Jesus. It's interesting that of all the heroes of faith, these two men were chosen. Jesus was about to face all this hardship and suffering, and go through things that were very difficult that could be overwhelming and exhausting. Perhaps Elijah was there because even though he had performed great miracles, even though he had called down fire from heaven, raised a little boy from the dead, at one point he was too exhausted to carry on, to weary to move forward, but then God sent an angel to strengthen him.

I don't know what the conversation was, but maybe Elijah encouraged Jesus that God would give him special strength to make it through, that angels would be there to minister to him. Maybe Moses reminded Jesus how when he was too tired to hold up his hands, when he was fatigued and couldn't do it any longer, God sent people to hold up his hands for him, that people would lift him when he fell, help him carry the weight of the cross. Maybe God has you watching this to remind you that when you face these times of feeling fatigued and overwhelmed, when you don't have the strength to go on, that's okay. Jesus felt overwhelmed. Moses, Elijah, didn't think they could go on. God is going to send angels to strengthen you. The right people are going to show up. God is not going to let you miss your destiny.

Joel Osteen: I love how God sends the right people at the right time to encourage you, to lift you up, to push you forward, and one of those times, Paul, is when Daddy died. You know, I didn't know how I was going to be able to minister. I'd only ministered that one time and I thought, "Man, I got to spend all my week trying to figure out how to get a message for Sunday," and that's when God sent you back down from Little Rock to give up your practice and you came and it just shows me that God's in control, that he has the right people at the right time. Never would I have dreamed that you would come back and work at the church, really, because you were so successful there and it was a great blessing.

Paul Osteen: When I came back, I often thought about how God calls brothers. You think about Aaron and Moses. Who else, Lisa? Andrew and Peter, and James and John, and I just felt like God had called me to come serve you and a lot of people say, "Well, how does that work with the older, you know, serving the younger"? You know, God gives you your assignment. I remember, I used to go with you all the time on the Nights of Hope and it got to the point where I wasn't doing as much on the Nights of Hope. So I asked you one time, I said, "Joel, is it okay if I not come"? and I'll never forget what you said to me. You said, "No, Paul, I really wish you'd still come because when you come I feel stronger". And I was thinking that was worth the entire, really, giving up everything to know that you're helping someone who's making such a difference feel stronger. So, you know, and then in the same way, Joel's encouraged me, you know? So, but I just feel like, you know, God brings the right people along when he needs to and I think about just in that transition, Lisa, you'd just had twins and you didn't have time to do the ministry so I see how God strategically put me in the ministry part of it so Joel and Victoria could do the speaking part so Lisa could raise her kids. So he's in control, he knows what he's doing.

Joel Osteen: Yeah, amazing.

Lisa Osteen Comes: Yeah, I want to go back a little bit because, you know, two or three times, Daddy said to me, just as we were walking around the office, "If anything ever happens to me," and he was thinking about the future, he said, "You know, don't worry, y'all just, you know, stay in charge of the church and the Holy Spirit will show you what to do". And you know, when he'd say that, I would just think, "Well, nothing's going to happen to you," but I remembered it and so here Daddy passes away unexpectedly to us, and I was so excited when you said that you wanted, you know, to preach that next Sunday. That just gave me a shot in the arm when you said that and then that first Sunday when you preached, I was sitting behind you and Victoria, that's where I always sat, behind Daddy, because I would take care of things like announcements, offerings, prayer time, and things like that and so, many times, I would say things to him to remind him. And so, I wanted to remind you of an announcement or something and as I just went to touch you on your elbow, in that moment, God spoke to me. And he said, "I'm transitioning you now, and just as you served your dad, I want you to serve your brother". And it was over just like that. I talked to you and I couldn't believe it. And I just sat back down and I had this joy and I thought, "That's my purpose, that's what God has called me to do," and here we had lost our father and you felt lost but in a moment, I mean, like you say, Joel, he was not only our dad, our pastor, our friend, we used to travel with him, run around with him, and so we had all that loss but the Holy Spirit was working, bringing Paul in, raising up Victoria, raising you up to be a voice to the world, showing me what I was going to do, Mama, raising her up in her healing ministry. The Holy Spirit had it all worked out.

Joel Osteen: You know, an encouraging word can do amazing things. You know, sometimes, we don't realize just the power to lift people or push them into their destiny. You know, I heard Victoria for years, she told me way before Daddy died that one day I was going to pastor the church and I thought, "I don't know what she's talking about," because I didn't feel like this was in me. And I think that when Daddy passed, one reason I was able to step up is because I'd heard her tell me so many times, and I think it's a great principle to call out the seeds of greatness in the people God's put in our life. I think it's important to encourage one another daily. That's what the Scripture says, and when you see something in somebody, don't just think it, just speak it out. It's a blessing when you speak it, when you release it out, so it's important to encourage others.

Victoria Osteen: Especially your family members. You know, sometimes people can give a stranger a compliment but forget to give their own child a compliment. You know, with Joel, I would encourage him but I began to take it one step further when he preached because I thought, you know, I can tell him that he did good and it means because I'm so close to him, more than a stranger. So I took it to another level and I decided to take something specific in his message and encourage him with it.

Dodie Osteen: That reminds me. Just two or three weeks ago, when you and I took that little package to the UPS, and the man said to me there, he said, "Lisa, I've been coming to the church for," how many years? Thirty years or something like that. He said, "Is your mother in the car"? And she said, "Yes," and he said, "I want to go out and see her". He said, "Years and years and years ago when my mother died," he said, "you and your husband came to our house," I didn't even know the man. I didn't even remember the man, and he said, "You came to my mother's house".

Lisa Osteen Comes: When you were sick and you would go out to the hospitals and visit people and to homes and pray for the sick, how did that affect you?

Dodie Osteen: It made me feel stronger. It was good, just to do something for somebody else. Got my mind off myself, and that's what sometime we do, we just keep our minds on ourselves. When you do things for others, Jesus is so pleased.

Things come against us in life, whether it's people who aren't fair, a sickness that won't seem to go away, setback in our finances. Sometimes, it wasn't any fault of our own. We're all born into difficulty. Maybe your parents were never around, your dream seems just out of reach, depression, addictions, mediocrity, just keep getting passed down.

We wonder, "Why am I having this opposition? Why was I raised in an unhealthy environment? Why did this company let me go after all these years"? If the enemy didn't know there wasn't greatness in you, he wouldn't waste his time bringing those challenges. When you gave your life to Christ, God marked you. He said, "You're mine". He put a crown of favor on your head. Now, that's all great, but the challenge is you became a target to the enemy. He knows you are destined to take new ground. He knows God has favored you to leave your mark, so he's going to work overtime trying to stop you. There is a fight for your future. But what I want you to see is it's not your battle. The battle is the Lord's.

Mark chapter 5, there was a man who was possessed with an evil spirit. It had gotten so bad that his life was out of control and he lived in a desolate place among the tombs in a graveyard. People had tried to chain him up, but he was so strong, he would break the chains. And through the day and night, he would wander through the tombs, wearing no clothes, screaming, cutting himself. Didn't seem like this man had a chance. He was mentally deranged. His family had given up on him, society had written him off. But I can imagine that on some nights there were moments of sanity. All of a sudden he would look up, think, "God, please help me. I want to see my children. I want to go home. Why am I so tormented"?

I can see his little boy praying for him, his wife weeping for him, so discouraged. It looked as though this was his destiny. People had given up on him. But God doesn't give up on any of us. Nobody is too far gone. Don't write off your child, don't write off your neighbor, don't write off your cousin. It may seem like they're too bad, too addicted, too depressed, too sick, too off-course, but the enemy wouldn't be fighting them this hard if he didn't know there was something amazing inside of them. Jesus was on the opposite side of the Sea of Galilee from where this man was, teaching the people on the shore. At the end of the day, instead of going to rest where he normally did, he told his disciples he wanted to get in the boat and travel to the other side of the lake.

But in the middle of the night, this huge storm arose. The waves crashed over the boat, filling it with water. The winds were so strong, it seemed like the boat was about to break apart. Where was Jesus? In the back of the boat, sleeping. The disciples frantically ran to him. "Jesus, wake up. We're about to die". Jesus stood up, spoke to the storm, said, "Peace. Be still". Suddenly, the waves stopped. Everything was perfectly calm. That morning, as they arrived at the shore, Jesus was getting out of the boat when this deranged man came running up to him, fell on his knees and let out a scream. Jesus told the demons to come out and, instantly, the man was healed. When the local people came to see what happened, the Scripture says the people saw the man sitting there, clothed, and in his right mind.

What's interesting is that when Jesus was on the boat, headed toward this man, this huge storm that arose wasn't random. That wasn't just an act of nature, just a coincidence. That was the enemy trying to stop Jesus from getting to this man. You would think the enemy would have been satisfied that the man was possessed, out of his mind, cutting himself, surely this man was no threat. He could never do anything great. But, no, the enemy knew despite all he had done to this man, despite the turmoil, all the confusion, all the cutting, this man still had greatness in him. He still had a purpose to fulfill. When the enemy saw Jesus crossing the lake, he thought, "I've got to stop him. I have to keep him from reaching the shore".

The enemy may send a storm of opposition, looks too big, don't worry. God controls the winds. He overrides every negative force. Those winds that are trying to keep you from your destiny, God is speaking to them right now. Breakthroughs are coming, healing is coming, freedom is coming. Things may look as though they could never turn around. The storm is darker than ever. On your own, you're done, but you're not on your own. Get ready, peace is coming. Favor is coming, victory is coming.

Like this man, you're going to see God override what's trying to stop you. The man who was deranged, he didn't know that Jesus had spoken to the winds. He didn't know there was a huge storm, that Jesus had gone to great lengths to get to him. He just saw Jesus show up on the shore. You don't know all the storms the enemy has sent to try to keep God from getting to you. You don't know how many times God has said, "Peace. Be still. That's my son, that's my daughter. They're going to fulfill their destiny. I'm going to break the chains. I'm releasing healing, freedom, abundance, to move them into their purpose". God has been fighting for you, pushing through forces of darkness, calming the storms, crossing lakes, just to get to you.

In the Scripture, when Moses was born, Pharaoh had put out a decree that all the male Hebrew babies would be killed. Pharaoh was afraid the Israelites were getting too strong, they would eventually overthrow the Egyptians. Not only that, it was prophesied that Moses would deliver the Israelites out of slavery. It's no coincidence that Moses was born into adversity, born with forces against him. Wasn't anything he had done, wasn't because of his poor choices, but from his birth, the enemy was trying to stop him. Moses's mother hid him in the house for three months until he was too big. She thought he would be found and killed. So she put him in a basket, coated with tar and pitch, and put it among the reeds, along the Nile River. It just so happened when Pharaoh's daughter went out to bathe in the river, she heard the cries coming from the basket, opened it up, couldn't believe it. She fell in love with this little baby.

What's interesting is she knew he was a Hebrew baby. She knew he wasn't supposed to live. Her father was the one that made the decree. But for some reason, she and Pharaoh decided it was okay for her to keep the baby and raise him as her own. When God is fighting your battles, things will happen that don't make sense. When he says, "Peace. Be still," storms that look impossible will calm down. Quit believing those lies: you've had too many bad breaks, too much come against you, it's too late. There's no storm so strong that Jesus can't calm it. No giant so big that he can't defeat it. No fire so hot that he can't step into it and bring you out. There's no lion so hungry that he can't close its mouth, and there's no Pharaoh so powerful that he can't change his mind. Nothing can cancel God's plan for your life.

I believe today is a turning point in your life. God is breathing special strength into you right now. That burden that's weighed you down is being lifted. That storm you're facing, it's being calmed. God is re-energizing you with fresh passion, fresh vision. You will run and not grow weary, you will walk and not faint. Like Elijah, you're about to outrun some chariots. You're going to think, "Where did I get this energy, this power, this ability"? It's God giving you special strength. Remember this: with God on your side, you are stronger than you think.
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