Joel Osteen - You've Been Chosen
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I want to talk to you today about You've Been Chosen. I grew up playing basketball, and from the time I was a little boy I love the game. When I was 12 years old we went to my grandparents house to spend the day. And I took my ball and walked to the park about three blocks away, and there were all these guys playing. They were in their late teens, much bigger, stronger and better. It's very competitive. I was over on a side golf, shooting, making sure to stay out of the way. When the game was over, the two best players started to pick new teams. There are about 15 people waiting, and this one captain looked all around at his friends, he knew everyone, all these great players, then he looked over at me and said, "I choose that guy". I nearly passed out. He was a foot taller than me, a different nationality, 20 times better, yet he bypassed all the people he was supposed to pick, and he chose a stranger.
His friend said, "Are you kidding? He's too small". One said, "Yes, plus he's white", meaning he can't jump. Another said, "He's not one of us, you don't even know him". I never expected to be chosen, I didn't deserve it, I couldn't perform at their level, I didn't come from their background, but for some reason he picked me. Now I'll never forget how that made me feel valuable, approved, confident. All because I had been chosen.
That's what God did for us. We were all strangers. We couldn't measure up, we didn't deserve his love, his mercy, his goodness, but the scripture (Ephesians 2:23) says, "While we were yet strangers, while we were far off, God brought us near through the blood of Christ". Jesus said in John 15:16, "You didn't choose me, I chose you". God handpicked you. Now, you may feel like I did at that park: you don't fit in, you weren't raised in this, you come from a different background. None of that stops God. He still chooses you. Thoughts will tell you, "You've made too many mistakes, you're too small, you're not qualified, you don't come from a background of faith". God says, "That's okay, you're exactly who I'm looking for. I choose strangers, I choose people that don't look like you'd expect, people that don't perform perfectly, people with flaws and weaknesses". That doesn't disqualify you, it's just the opposite: you're who God chooses. He sees what you. He knows your potential.
He told Jeremiah 1:5, "Before you were formed in your mother's womb, I knew you and approved you. I've called you to speak to nations". Before you were born, God not only chose you, but he put a calling on your life. He put greatness in you. He's destined you to leave your mark. But the enemy will work overtime to try to make you feel left out, like you don't matter, you're not smart enough, you don't fit in, you're too different. Don't believe those lies. God specializes in choosing strangers. He chooses people that society wouldn't expect. He chose a shepherd boy named David to become the king of Israel. David didn't come from royalty, they were poor. His family had no influence. When he showed up at the palace, they would have thought, "Who is this stranger? He's not qualified". God chose Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery. Moses had made a mistake, took a man's life, had to spend 40 years hiding in the desert. He had a problem with his speech, he stuttered. God could have found someone with less baggage, more eloquent, but he chose a stranger.
Jesus was traveling to Galilee, told his disciples, "I must go to Samaria". It wasn't the normal route, it was the long way. He was waiting at a well, when a woman came to get water. He asked her for something to drink. She said, "Sir, you're a Jew, I'm a Samaritan. You know, we don't get along. Why are you talking with me"? Jesus said, "If you knew who I am, you would ask, and I would give you living water". Jesus begin to tell her all about her life, how she had five husbands, and how she was living with the sixth man. No doubt, she was the talk of the town. People look down on her, made fun, "There's that lady, who's she with this week". She was so amazed that Jesus knew everything about her, she said, "One day we know the Messiah will come". Jesus said to her, "I am the Messiah". The first person Jesus ever told he was the Messiah wasn't the head rabbi, wasn't the chief priest, wasn't the mayor, it was this woman, a stranger. Someone that society had written off, "Too many mistakes, not worthy, she doesn't fit in". God doesn't choose the way we choose, never write you off. He never gives up on you. His calling on your life is irrevocable, that means he doesn't change his mind.
When Jesus chose his disciples, he didn't go to the synagogue to find the best candidates, the best credentials. He didn't run an ad on ZipRecruiter, get the most qualified. He chose Peter, a fisherman. He didn't have any kind of background of faith, he never been to the temple, he was hot tempered, cursed people out. He chose Matthew, a tax collector. They were known for being dishonest. What if Jesus would have hired a consulting firm to review his choices, and come back something like this: "We've run a test on the men you've submitted, we're sorry, none of them are qualified for management positions. Peter is emotionally unstable, and given the fits of rage. Thomas has a doubting spirit, that undermines morale. Matthew has integrity issues, has been blacklisted by the Jerusalem better business bureau".
Here's what I'm saying: why are you disqualifying yourself, thinking you have too many flaws, you don't fit in, you don't come from the right background, you made too many wrong choices? God knew every mistake you would make. He knew what you'd struggle with. He knew the environment you'd be raised in, and he still chooses you. Think about this: Jesus knew Peter would deny him before he chose him, he knew Peter had some dysfunction, that he struggled with his temper, that he tell you what he thought. He knew Peter didn't look like a quote religious person, that he didn't fit in that mold, that he was a strong, rough fisherman.
Jesus took all that into account, and he still chose him. It's because God loves to choose strangers, people that don't seem like they fit, people that weren't raised in faith, people that have shortcomings, that are rough around the edges. You wouldn't be hearing this if you weren't chosen. Don't go your whole life thinking you don't measure up, you don't perform good enough, you're not talented enough, you don't fit in, when in fact you've been handpicked by the Creator of the universe. The God who knew you before you were in your mother's womb not only chose you, but he's approved you. He calls you a masterpiece, one of a kind, fearfully and wonderfully made.
Now, people may disapprove you, they may look down on you, tell you what you're not, try to make you feel less than. Let that go in one ear, and out the other. You don't need their approval, you have Almighty God's approval. Every morning we should start the day, "Father, thank you that I am chosen, that your handpicked me". You know what you're saying? "I am worthy. I am valuable. I am needed. I am loved. I am full of purpose. I have seeds of greatness. I will leave my mark". When you know you're chosen, you hold your head up high, you live with confidence. Not because of who you are, but because of whose you are.
And yes, God could have picked someone more talented, from a more influential family, with less weaknesses, less baggage, but on he chose you. It's because you're a perfect fit, you have exactly what you need to fulfill your assignment. What you've been through, that didn't stop you, that prepared you. That setback didn't disqualify you, it was necessary to get you ready for where God is taking you. Now, quit beating yourself up, thinking you missed your chance, you've been through too much, "I would have performed better, not made these mistakes". God took all that into account, and he still chose you. He doesn't disqualify you, don't disqualify yourself.
When that young man picked me to be on his team, even though I was half his size, and not nearly as skilled as those other players, I'm either naive or a little bit crazy, but that spirit of LeBron James came on me. I thought, "Man if you think I can play, if you have that much confidence in me, then I must be better than I thought". I took it as a sign that it was my time to shine, that he wouldn't have chosen me if he thought I was going to fail. When opportunities come across your path they seem too big, too much.
Don't shrink back, "I can't take that management position, I'm not that smart. I'll never get in this college, I'm not qualified. I can't date that person, they are so over my head". Have a new perspective: God has so much confidence in you. He wouldn't have put you there if you were going to fall apart, be overwhelmed. The fact that he chose you means he's already equipped you, empowered you, anointed you. This is your time to shine. Step into your greatness. You've been raised up for such a time as this. And yes, it maybe over your head, but it's not over God's head. You and God are a majority. As you take a step of faith, you'll discover courage, strength, ability like you've never seen. The favor of God will cause you to go further, to accomplish dream it looked too big, and overcome challenges that seem impossible.
Imagine how David must have felt when he was chosen to face Goliath. That didn't make sense, he could have thought, "This is not God choosing me, this is the devil trying to get me killed". Goliath was twice his size, he had more training, more armor, more experience. But God doesn't call you without equipping you. What you have may seem small in comparison to what you're up against, but just a slingshot, a few stones, but when God breathes on it, it'll bring giants. God's favor on your slingshot is more powerful than a whole army coming against you. Don't talk yourself out of your dreams, talk yourself into your dreams. "This giant maybe big, but I know I've been chosen. God wouldn't have allowed it if I wasn't well able, I can do all things through Christ".
When Jesus was on his way to be crucified, the soldiers forced him to carry his own cross. He'd been beaten, mocked and ridiculed. His body was weak, his mind was tired, he was suffering from exhaustion. As he was carrying the cross, he fell down, he couldn't take it anymore. The scripture (Luke 23:26) says, "There was a man coming into town from another country, Simon of Cyrene, the soldiers had him carry Jesus cross". It's significant that it tells us Simon was from Cyrene. Cyrene was a city in north Africa, he wasn't from Jerusalem, he was a foreigner, a stranger. No doubt he didn't know who Jesus was, he just traveling through, and suddenly found himself carrying this cross. He didn't know he would be a part of history.
Simon never dreamed we'd be talking about him today. God could've had one of the disciples close by to carry the cross. After all, this was such a historic moment. He could have had blind Barnabas, who Jesus had healed be there. One of the ten lepers that were cleansed. But of all the Jesus impacted, all the ones he taught, fed, encouraged, healed, the one who would be with him in his final critical moments was a stranger. Simon didn't look like Jesus, he was a different nationality. He didn't worship in the temples like Jesus, he wasn't Jewish, he was from another faith. But God on purpose chooses strangers, people that seem unlikely, people that don't look like they belong.
And sometimes we fight being chosen. Simon could have said to the soldiers, "Not me. Find someone else. I don't know this man. I'm not a religious person. I don't come from a family of faith. Can't you see, I'm a different nationality"? None of that matters to God. He knew Simon was a stranger. He knew there was no history with Jesus. He knew his family was from a different background. He knew voices would whisper, "Simon, you can't do this. This doesn't make sense. Don't get involved, tell them you're busy". All these thoughts trying to talk him out of it, but deep down he could hear this voice whispering, "You've been chosen. This is your moment. I know you're a stranger, I know this is not the environment you're used to, but I'm calling you". And Simon could have made excuses, he could've tried to run away, but he accepted the calling. He stepped in to purpose and destiny greater than he ever dreamed.
Maybe today like Simon you're fighting being chosen. You know God's calling is on you, but you're a stranger, you weren't raised in this, you don't look like you fit, you have weaknesses, you've made mistakes. The truth is: we were all strangers. We may look like we have it all together, but we've all fallen short. This is the beauty of our God: while we were yet strangers, while we were still far off, God in his great mercy chose us. He didn't choose you based on your performance, he chose you based on his love. Simon didn't know Jesus, he had no history with him, but God had a divine purpose for his life, something more than he ever dreamed. Who knows where God will take you if you'll simply answer the call?
Sometimes we think: to carry the cross, to accept that we've been chosen, we'll have to give up so much, live a lame, boring life. The truth is: you'll gain so much more. God's dream for your life is so much bigger, so much better, more rewarding. And yes, you have to give up some things: fear, insecurity, addictions, depression. He's chosen you, my question is: will you choose him? Don't go through life handpicked by the Creator, with seeds of greatness, redeemed and forgiven, but never step up to who you were created to be. Let today be the day you say, "God, I believe I'm chosen. I believe I'm worthy. I believe I'm valuable. I may be a stranger, this may be new to me, but I'm coming into the family, I'm going to live my life a son, as a daughter of the Most High God".
There was a very wealthy lady that had passed, and as far as they knew she had never left a will. She had this huge house filled with all kinds of furniture, expensive antiques. He had beautiful Jewelry, a huge art collection, paintings from all over the world. Her late husband had collected automobiles, there were several dozen classic cars in the garage, millions of dollars of worth. A company came in to auction everything off, and couple hundred people there, the auction started in the foyer with a picture of the lady's son. It was a portrait hanging on the wall. It was nice, but no one wanted that. They were waiting for all the other items.
After a couple of minutes of silence, the lady's housekeeper bid $20, she'd help raise the boy, and loved him dearly. The auctioneer looked around, one more time said, "Going, going, gone". The housekeeper took the painting down. On the back the is a handwritten note, signed by the lady. It said, "Whoever chooses the son, gets it all". That auction was suddenly over. Now the housekeeper owned it all. It's the same way today: when you choose the son, when you choose the risen Savior, when you choose Jesus, you get it all: abundant life, eternal life, joy, peace, victory.
My father was raised in a family that didn't know anything about God. They were very poor, they lost everything during the great depression, and he had to drop out of high school to help on the farm. Looked like his life would be limited, no money, no education, no future to speak up. But my father had a friend named Sam. He would get to school early, and write scriptures on the chalkboard. My father was so embarrassed, he didn't have anything to do with religion, with faith. But at 17 years old he was walking home from a nightclub at 2 o'clock in the morning. He looked up at the stars, and for some reason he begin to think about God, and what he was going to do with his life. He went home, and there was a Bible on the coffee table, just there for decoration. He opened it up, it fell to a picture of Jesus standing at a door and knocking. The caption read, "If you open the door I'll come in". The next morning my father went to church with Sam and gave his life to Christ. That changed the whole trajectory of our family.
My father like Simon, a stranger. There was no history of faith, nothing in his background that said he would believe. He was a teenager, partying, doing his own thing. But God in his mercy chose my father before he could choose him. Walking home from that nightclub that was God drawing my father. Like him, you may not have a background of faith, you don't think you could live up to the standards, you have too much negative baggage. None of that stops God. He loves to strangers and do something awesome with their lives.
Don't make excuses. My father could have thought, "God, I don't have much to offer, I don't have much education, don't have any influence, I don't have a family that's honored you". God's not looking at what you don't have, all he needs is what you do have: you're willingness, your obedience, your courage, your faith. You can impact your family line for generations to come. You can be the one that breaks the cycle of defeat and mediocrity, and starts the cycle of blessing, favor, honor, integrity.
You may be a stranger, but don't stay a stranger. You've been chosen. God's calling is on your life. There is an assignment for you to accomplish, it's something bigger than you've imagined. And sure, you may feel unqualified, you don't have the training, that giant looks too big. But when you step into that calling, there is a supernatural force that will push you into your destiny. A favor that will open doors that no person can shut. A power to accomplish dreams you never thought possible.
When Jesus was on the cross, there were two thieves crucified on each side. One mocked him and said, "Man you can't even save your own life". The other said, "Jesus, when you come into your kingdom, please remember me". He believed Jesus was the Messiah, that he was a king, going into his kingdom. Jesus didn't say, "I don't even know you. You never came to temple when I talk, you never got baptized". No, Jesus said, "This day you will be with me in paradise". Down to his last breath on earth, God was showing us that he chooses strangers. That our past doesn't determine our future. That when we were at our worst, God is at his best. That's when his mercy shows out.
Jesus could have said to the man, "Well, tell me, did you do any good works? How much time did you spend serving others? How was you raised, what kind of family, then I'll think about that request". No, the scripture (Ephesians 2:8) says, "By grace we are saved, through faith, not of works, it is a gift from God".
There was a man in the scripture named Saul. He was the greatest enemy of the church. He went around arresting believers, having them put in jail. He was standing there when Stephen was stoned to death for his faith. The scripture says he wreaked havoc on the church. Nobody was more of a threat and did more damage than Saul. You would think God wouldn't have anything to do with him, he's too far off course. Now, don't ever write anyone off. The mercy of God is bigger than any mistake, it's bigger than any force that's trying to stop your children, your loved ones. As Saul was traveling to Damascus, with papers in hand to arrest believers, a bright light shine down from heaven and knocked him off his horse. He fell to the ground and couldn't see. A voice boomed out, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me"? Saul was puzzled, he said, "Who are you"? The voice said, "I am Jesus".
Of all the people God could be dealing with, he's talking to this stranger, this man that's so against him. God told Ananias (Acts 9:15), "Go pray for Saul, for he's a chosen vessel to bear my name". Here's the biggest enemy of the church, and God is saying, "I chose him". Why are you believing those lies that you've made too many mistakes, that God won't have anything to do with you, that you're stuck where you are, when in fact God is saying, "You're a chosen vessel"? Your mistakes didn't cancel your destiny, God doesn't consult your past to determine your future. The enemy will love to keep you condemned, feeling unworthy, like you don't belong, you don't measure up. That's why the scripture says, "While you were far off, while you were a stranger, God brought you in through Christ".
In that one destiny moment Saul's life was forever changed. He went on to become the apostle Paul. He went from the greatest enemy of the church, to the greatest asset of the church. He wrote over half of the books in the New Testament. All that time Saul was wreaking havoc, causing trouble, that didn't stop God's plan. God knew he was a chosen vessel. God doesn't give up on you. People look at what you are, but God sees what you can become. It's no coincidence that Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:19, "You are no longer strangers, you are no longer foreigners, but you belong to the household of God".
Get this down in your spirit: you've been chosen, you belong to God's family. The Creator of the universe handpicked you. "Not me, Joel. I've made too many mistakes. You don't know what I've done" - you're a Saul, you're a chosen vessel. "I don't come from a background of faith, I wasn't raised like this, I don't fit in" - you're a Simon, you're still chosen. "I have flaws, weaknesses, I don't perform perfectly" - you're a Peter. God knew every shortcoming, and he still chose you. Now the tragedy is to go through life being chosen, and never recognize it. You have to accept that God has a calling on your life, he put greatness in you, he's given you a purpose, a divine assignment. Don't let fear, insecurity, guilt keep you from your greatness. Step up to who God created you to be.
This is your time to shine. You're chosen to set a new standard for your family. You're chosen to break the cycle of dysfunction. You're chosen live a life of excellence and integrity, a victorious, abundant life. And when thoughts tell you, "You're unworthy, you're not qualified, this is not your background". No, tune all that out. Every morning, "Father, thank you that I'm chosen".
Let me tell you again: you are worthy, you are valuable, you are favored, you are anointed. Your past is forgiven, your future is bright. You are well able to fulfill your purpose. I believe and declare: like Simon, you're about to step into some destiny moments. Things that you couldn't make happen, that's the favor of God propelling you ahead. Like Saul, God is going to free you from every bondage, turn negative situations around. Promotion is coming, healing is coming, breakthroughs are coming, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen? Amen.