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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Joel Osteen » Joel Osteen - Grow Through It

Joel Osteen - Grow Through It

Joel Osteen - Grow Through It

I want to talk to you today about Grow Through It. We all go through things that are uncomfortable and things that we don't like: a co-worker is getting on our nerves. Child is difficult to raise. A dream is taking longer than we thought. It's easy to live frustrated, wondering why it's not changing. But I've learned: you can't pray away everything that's uncomfortable. God uses difficulties, delays, and inconveniences to do a work in us. And if the situation is not changing, maybe God is using the situation to change you. He wouldn't have allowed it if he didn't have a purpose for it. Don't just go through it, upset, bitter, offended, grow through it. That's an opportunity to get stronger, to develop your character, to build your spiritual muscles.

'Cause we don't grow so much in the good times. We grow in the difficult times. The scripture (1 Peter 1:7) says, "Our faith is tested in the fire of affliction". That person that did you wrong, that's not random, it's not just a bad break. That's a test. God is seeing: are you going to get bitter, hold a grudge, try to pay them back? Or you going to take the high road and forgive? Or you didn't get the promotion you deserved, it wasn't fair. Are you going to get upset, bad mouth the company, slack off or you're going to keep being your best, going the extra mile, knowing that God has something better in coming?

These times when we're uncomfortable, we're not getting our way, those are opportunities to prove to God that you're ready to go to the next level. But before you promoted, there's a time of testing, a time of proving. And if you keep letting the same people offend you, same traffic upset you, the same challenges steal your joy, then you're going to get stuck. You're going through it, try a better approach, grow through it. "God, I don't like this. I'm uncomfortable, but I trust you. I know you wouldn't have allowed it if I didn't need it, so I'm going to pass this test. I'm not going to let this jerk... I mean, this coworker get on my nerves anymore. I'm not going to frustrated every time I don't get my way. Not going to be sour, because things aren't changing on my timetable. God, I know you're working all things for my good". That's how you grow. That's how you come out stronger, more confident, more loving, more forgiving.

When the Israelites were in the desert on their way to the promised land, he scripture says, God didn't take them the easiest way because they weren't prepared for war. There were enemies that were bigger and stronger, that would have defeated them. They had to go through some things to get ready for what God had in store. The longer route wasn't because God just wanted to make their life miserable, having to deal with delays, not knowing what they were going to eat, people coming against them. That was all strategic. That was all growing them up, making them stronger. God knew they needed that to go into the promised land. The reason you face difficulties, things that may not seem fair is because God has an awesome future in store for you. Where God is taking you is going to take greater faith, greater strength, greater resolve.

Every challenge you face is a sign that God is getting you ready for something you've never seen. Don't get sour, "Why is this happening?" Have a new perspective, "God is growing me up. He's getting me prepared for my promised land". But if God gave you everything right now all that he has lined up for you, it wouldn't be a blessing, it would be a burden. He loves you too much to give you what you can't handle. There will be seasons where it's taken longer than you thought. You're still in the desert, dealing with that cranky neighbor, fighting that battle in your health, pressured raising that child. You could be sour, "When is this going to change?" No, that's a time to prove to God who you are. You're not weak, you're a warrior. You don't fall apart when trouble comes, you are strong in the lord. You don't complain that you can't take it anymore, you can do all things through Christ. You don't live offended by people that did you wrong, you let God be your vindicator. That's how you don't just go through it, you grow through it.

When you prove to God that you'll be faithful when it's not fair, you'll be good to people that are not good to you, you'll stay in peace when you should be upset. Because you're spiritual muscles are growing because you're getting stronger, developing your character, God can take you to new levels of your destiny. He can entrust you with more favor, more resources, more influence. And I know sometimes it's painful, but the pain has a purpose. When I lift weights, the last two or three reps are always painful. My mind says, "Stop, this is hurting". I'm uncomfortable, I don't like it, but I know that pressure, that pain, number one, it's only temporary and number two, it's causing me to get stronger. I was uncomfortable for a short time, but the results lasted a long time. Now, I have this massive, good-looking facet, but... In my mind, I do.

But you may be uncomfortable for a season. And yes, it's hard to bite your tongue when people are rude. It's hard to keep a good attitude when the contract didn't go through. It's hard to stay in faith when things aren't changing. But if you'll dig down deep and pass that test, you're going to come into favor that will last a long time. Here's what I've learned: the pain of discipline is less than the pain of regret. It is painful to do the right thing when it's hard, but it's less pain than to look back and think, "What could I have become if I wouldn't let this temper get the best of me? What could I have become if I learned how to overcome this compromise, or deal with this impatience, this jealousy, being easily offended, not let that hold me back"?

The mistake the Israelites made out in the desert is they didn't grow through it. They didn't pass the test. They thought the delay was a bad break, when in fact, it was God protecting them. He knew they weren't ready, they would have been defeated. He was doing them a favor, but they thought he had forgotten about them. They were negative and complained, "Moses, why did you bring us out here in the desert to die? There's nothing good to eat out of here". God gave them manna every morning for breakfast, but they got tired of it. Because they didn't pass the test, because they never grew, never developed the faith, the trust, the character, they went around the same mountain for 40 years. Here God had brought them out of slavery, sent plagues on their oppressors, parted the Red Sea, drowned Pharaoh's army. God didn't do all those amazing things to leave them in the desert.

What was the problem? They didn't pass the test. They never got prepared for where God was taking them. They complain when it wasn't easy. They got discouraged because it was taken longer. They were frustrated because they weren't getting their way. When the truth is: all those difficulties, all those inconveniences, that wasn't the enemy, that was God giving them opportunities to grow.

How handle difficulties will determine whether you make it in to your promise land. God has the good breaks, the right people, the resources, but before that happens, you have to prove to him that you can handle it. The way you're tested is in the fire of affliction, in disappointments, delays, when you're not getting your way. Recognize that's an opportunity to come up higher. It's easy to get negative, try to pay people back. It's easy to live in self pity, discouraged over a bad break. It's easy to get upset in traffic. It's easy to be rude to people that are rude to you, but what if you knew all that was a test?

That it wasn't random, it was strategic, that God put you there to see how you would respond. Don't be do like the Israelites and go the next 40 years letting the same things upset you, same people offend you, same traffic frustrate you, same compromise defeat you. That's going through it. I'm asking you to grow through it. Instead of waiting it for it to change, why don't you change? Instead of trying to pray away the difficulty, why don't you pray, "God help me to do the right thing in the midst of this difficulty". Every challenge is an opportunity to prove to God that you can handle the favor, the influence, the destiny he's laid out for you. It's not going to come without testing, without proving, that you have the character, the integrity, the fortitude to handle it.

We see this with Joseph in the scripture. As a teenager, God gave him a dream that he was going to be in leadership, that he would see great favor and influence. And he was excited, He knew big things were in his future. But Psalm 105:19 says, "Until the time came to fulfill Joseph's dream, God tested Joseph's character". It's significant that God gave him a dream, then, God said, "I'm going to test you to see if you can handle it. I'm going to test your character: will you be good to people that are not good to you? I'm going to test your endurance: will you give up if it doesn't happen fast enough? I'm going to test your integrity: will you do the right thing when no one is watching? I'm going to test your attitude: will you get sour when things don't go your way?"

We love when God gives us a dream. We know something big is in our future, but we have to realize along with the dream come test. How we bond will determine whether we keep going around the mountain or whether we go into the promised land. Joseph's brothers heard about his dream and they didn't like it. They were already jealous of Joseph. He was their father's favorite child. One day, these brothers were in another city, taking care of their animals out in the pastures, and Joseph's father asked him to travel there to check on them. When the brother saw him coming, they thought, "This is our big chance to get rid of Joseph". They threw him into pit. They were going to leave in there when they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming. Instead, they sold Joseph as a slave.

His whole world was turned upside down. He went from his father's favorite child to being a slave in a foreign country. Didn't speak the language. His freedom was gone. You would think he would be bitter, "God, where are you? Why did my own family betray me?" But you never read where Joseph complained. He kept being his best, doing the right thing when the wrong thing happen. So much so, the owner of that house put Joseph in charge of his household. Joseph wasn't just going through it, he was growing through it. His attitude was, "This is where God has me, so, I'm going to shine. It's not fair, I don't understand it, but God I trust you, I believe that you're ordering my steps". The owner's wife lied about Joseph, he was falsely accused and was put in prison. Surely now, Joseph would be upset, discouraged, "God have had enough", but Joseph kept doing the right thing. He excelled in prison. The warden put him in charge.

Notice how he's passing the test, proving to God that he could be trusted, that he had the character, the integrity, the humility. He interpreted a dream for a fellow prisoner. Could have been sour, "I'm not going to do you a favor, man, I got more problems than you", but he was unselfish. Not long after that, he interpreted the Pharaoh's dream. The pharaoh was so impressed, he made Joseph, the prime minister of Egypt. Overnight, he went from a slave to one of the most powerful people of that day. Notice how the dream came to pass: God tested Joseph's character all along the way.

The challenges we face aren't random. That's God giving you an opportunity to develop your muscles, to get stronger, to prove to him that you can handle the promotion. It may not be as dramatic as Joseph, being put in prison for something you didn't do. It may just be how do you handle the traffic each morning? How you treat that person at work is not good to you? How you respond when you're doing the right thing, but the wrong thing is happening? Don't get bitter, don't try to pay people back, be a Joseph. Show God what you're made of. That's an opportunity to grow. When you do the right thing, your spiritual muscles are getting stronger. Your trust, your patience, your endurance, your faith is increasing. When God sees that you can handle the dream, when you proven to him that you have the character, the integrity, he'll open doors you could never open. He'll defeat giants that were much bigger. You'll find yourself further than you could ever imagine.

Now, maybe like Joseph, you're in that time of testing now, wondering, "Why these unfair things have happened? Why this door is closed? Why it's taking so long?" God has not forgotten about you. He sees you doing the right thing when it's hard. He sees you praising when you could be complaining. He sees you at work being your best and not getting the credit. He sees those lonely nights, those tears from what's breaking your heart, but you're still serving, still giving, still being good to people. You are proving to God that you can handle the blessings. I know thoughts will whisper, "It's never going to work out". No, your time is coming.

The scripture says, when you have passed the test, you will receive the victor's crown of life. Victory is coming. Favor is coming. You've been struggling a long time, ease is coming. God is about to shift some things. Like with Joseph, he's going to take you from the background to the foreground. It's going to happen suddenly. A shift from borrowing to lending, from being stuck to being promoted. From morning to dancing, from sorrow to joy. The victor's crown is on the way. Now, keep being faithful, keep doing the right thing when you're uncomfortable. You don't understand it. It's not fair. Don't just go through it, grow through it. It's doing something on the inside of you. It's getting you prepared for something that you've never seen.

Couple of years after my father passed, the church was growing, and we needed a larger auditorium. The Compaq Center, this place became available. After a year and a half battle, by the grace of God, 10 city council members voted for us and we got the facility. We were so excited. I grew up watching the Rockets play basketball here, and this was more than I ever dreamed. But the day after that big victory, a large company that owns all the property around this building filed a federal lawsuit to try to keep us from moving in. They said that we violated the deed restrictions. That this was a sports facility, not a church. Our attorneys told us that there was no guarantee that we would win, that could be tied up in the court system for 10 years. I thought, "God, you just gave us this great victory. We just spent the day celebrating. Now, it was like the wind was taken out of our cell".

I prayed, I believed, I declared, but nothing changed. Months went by. The other side didn't want to talk. It was to their advantage to just sit it out. The longer it took, the worse it was for us. I had to do what I'm asking you to do. I didn't like it. I was uncomfortable, thoughts told me, "Joel, it was never going to work out. You're going to look like a fool. You've told all those people you got the building. You've been celebrating. You might have to give it back". I said, "No thanks. God, I know you're still on the throne. I know what you started You will finish. I know You being for us is more than the world being against us".

There were many nights, I woke up in a cold sweat, tempted to worry, doubt. I had to make that to tune it out. Two years later, without hardly any contact, the other side called and said they wanted to meet. Twenty-four hours after that, they had not only dropped the lawsuit, but they leased us 9000 covered parking spaces. We didn't have to build a fifty-million-dollar garage. What am I saying? Before your dreams come to pass, God will test your character. He'll put you in situations that are uncomfortable, that you don't understand. God could've this around in two weeks instead of 2 years. It's no harder for God, He's God. But he was doing a work in me. He was getting me prepared to handle the blessings that were coming. It's not always about right now, God's looking down the road at what you're going to need to handle the weight of blessing, the weight of favor.

In those 2 years, I learned to pray like I'd never prayed. I learned to trust that God is in control. I learned to lean not to my own understanding. Some things you can only learn in the battle, in the difficulty, when you don't see a way. But God wouldn't have allowed it if it wasn't working for your good. If it's not changing, maybe God's changing you. He's giving you an opportunity to grow, to develop greater character, to prove to him that you won't give up easily, that you'll do the right thing when it's hard, that you'll believe when every thought says to doubt, that you'll stand strong in faith even when you're facing Goliath.

Isaiah forty-one says that God will harden you to difficulties. Some of the things that I face today, if I would have faced them 20 years ago, they would have defeated me. God knows what you can handle. As you keep passing these tests, what's happening is he's hardening you to difficulty. You're getting stronger. Your faith is growing. Your endurance is increasing. Your spiritual muscles are being built up. The reason God is doing this is because there are awesome things in your future. God is taking you to a wide and a spacious place. He's going to enlarge your territories. Here's the whole key: with greater influence comes greater giants. With greater blessings comes greater opposition. Greater favor, greater persecution. If he didn't harden you to difficulty, you couldn't withstand what comes against you.

Even now, if you look back in your life, some of the things you face today, years ago, that would have caused you to live worried, upset. Now, it's no big deal, you know God's fighting your battles. You know no weapon formed against you will prosper. You know this too shall pass. Why is that? You're growing. You've gotten stronger. Your faith is increased. Your expectancy is greater. Your trust is at a new level. The things you've been through, no they weren't fun, they were uncomfortable, but it wasn't God just making you suffer. They deposited something on the inside. Everything you've been through was necessary for where God is taking you.

If you don understand this, you'll live frustrated, fighting everything you don't like, bitter over who did you wrong. "God, why did these brothers throw me into a pit? God, why did that company file a lawsuit? Why did I have this setback?" That's just going through it, discouraged, upset. That's what most people do. But I'm asking you to grow through it, seeing it as an opportunity to show God what you're made of, to prove to him that you'll do the right thing when it's hard, that you'll keep a good attitude when you feel like being upset. That's developing your character, that's proving to God that you're ready for the fullness of your destiny.

When things are taken longer than we thought, could it be that we're delaying what God wants to do? We're waiting for him to change the situation, but God is waiting for us to change. We're waiting for him to remove what's uncomfortable, but if we'll do the right thing when it's uncomfortable, then God will change things.

Think about David. He was anointed to be next king of Israel. The prophet Samuel showed up at his house and chose him over his brothers. It was a remarkable moment. But David didn't go to the palace, he went back to the shepherd's fields. You can be anointed before you're appointed. Like Joseph, you can have the dream, but there will be a time of testing, a time of proving to get you prepared for what God promised. This is where we can get discouraged, "God, you anointed me. Why did you send me back to take care of these sheep?" David could've complained, could've slacked off, but out in the shepherd's fields with no one watching, he kept being his best. He was a king with a big dream. What's he doing? Shoveling sheep dung, protecting the animals, closely watching over them. He had his slingshot ready. The wild animal came, he was there, he nailed it. Never dreaming that one day, he would use that same skill to slay a giant.

David had to prove he would take care of those sheep before God would allow him to take care of his people. Don't despise the small beginnings. Don't slack off because you're not getting recognition, no one is celebrating you. You're in preparation. Keep passing those tests. Keep being your best. Serving when no one is looking. Doing the right thing when you're not getting the credit. God is watching. He sees your faithfulness. He sees how you're trustworthy. How you have that spirit of excellence.

King Saul suffered from depression. They sent for David to come to the palace to play the harp for Saul. As David was playing, being good to Saul, Saul threw a spare at David and tried to kill him. This happened several times. David had to flee for his life. He had done no wrong, he didn't deserve this, but now he was living in caves, hiding in the wilderness. Saul kept chasing him. One night, Saul and his men were asleep, and David snuck over to their camp. This was big chance to get rid of Saul. He could finally put an end to this man that was making his life miserable. Finally, get out of this uncomfortable situation, but David wouldn't do it. He knew: Saul was the king, and he wasn't going to touch God's anointed. He was going to let God make the transition.

When God can trust you to not get out of every uncomfortable situation, but to do the right thing, to take the high road, forgive your enemies, not live sour because you had the bad break, frustrated because the dream hasn't come to pass, you are proving to God that you can take your throne so to speak, that you can handle the blessing, the favor that he has in store. It may be unfair, you don't understand it. Don't just go through it, grow through it. God sees what's happening. He sees who did you wrong. He sees what didn't work out. He sees the medical report. That's not how story ends. That's one chapter in the book that he's written for your life. There are many great chapters up ahead.

Don't fight everything you don't like. Before you ask God to change the situation, say "God, change me. Help me to grow. Help me to come up higher. Help me to trust you more". Those are opportunities to show God that you're ready for the amazing future he has in store. You haven't seen, heard, or imagined where God is taking you. That's why you face challenges: He's getting you prepared for something greater. If you'll keep the right attitude, and not just go through it but grow through it, I believe and declare: like Joseph, you're going to see God vindicate you, and suddenly turn things around. Like David, you're going to defeat giants, accomplish dreams, and reach the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen?
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