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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Joel Osteen » Joel Osteen - Keeping The Right Identity

Joel Osteen - Keeping The Right Identity

Joel Osteen - Keeping The Right Identity
TOPICS: Identity

I want to talk to you today about Keeping The Right Identity. We all face situations that contradict who God made us to be. He's put dreams in our heart, we're standing on his promises, knowing that we're blessed, strong, healthy, favored. But sometimes the circumstances say just the opposite. It's easy to our environment change our identity. We know God calls us a masterpiece, valuable, fearfully and wonderfully made, but when we go through unfair situations, we're not treated right, people walk away, we can lose who we are. We let those circumstances change how we see ourselves, and how we feel inferior, not attractive, nothing special. We're adapting to the environment. Or God puts a dream in our heart to take our family to a new level, to set a new standard. We know we're a difference maker, we are well able, but the doors haven't opened, the dream didn't work out, nobody supported us. Now, instead of seeing ourselves as victorious, successful, we let the environment determine our identity. We see ourselves as limited, at a disadvantage, too many disappointments.

Here's the key: your environment doesn't change who God created you to be. God says, "You're blessed, you're favored, healthy, you're free". Everything around you may say just the opposite: this is what faith is all about. You have to dig down deep and say, "I am not going to let my environment define who I am. I am who God says I am".

See, maybe you're struggling in your finances, can't seem to get ahead, stuck at that same level. If you take on that defeated, not enough mindset, you let lack and struggle become your identity, it will keep you from rising higher. Lack may be all around you, but don't let it get in you. Don't start talking defeat, "I'll never get ahead. Nobody in my family is successful. My business is not going to make it". No, in the midst of that struggle, your attitude should be, "I am blessed. I am the head, and not the tail. My cup runs over. What I touch will prosper and succeed". Don't let the environment define who you are. The fact is: you are blessed whether you're in a great environment or whether you're in a limited environment.

"Well, Joel, I'd be further along. I thought I'd be in management by now, but I'm still in the background. I thought I would have met someone, I'm still single. I thought I'd be free from this illness, but I'm still dealing with it, I guess I'll always struggle". No, don't take that as your identity. Where you are is not who you are. The environment can change. One touch of God's favor can turn things around. The real question is: are you letting the environment change you? Are you taking on the identity of what's around you? The enemy would love for you to lose who you really are, to where you see yourself as limited, not attractive, a victim. That wrong identity will keep you from becoming who you were created to be.

You may be in an environment right now that contradicts what God promised you. The circumstances look just the opposite of the dream he put in your heart. That's a test. You can let it change you, adapt to the environment, water down your dream or you can say, "No, thanks, my environment doesn't dictate my identity. I know who I am: I am blessed, I am valuable, I am strong, I am victorious, I am a child of the Most High God".

This is what Joseph had to do. He was 17 years old when God gave him a dream that he'd be in leadership. And he knew he was going to do great things. He shared that dream with his brothers, they didn't like it too much, they were already jealous. Joseph was youngest child and their father's favorite. These brothers had traveled to a different city with their flocks to find food and pasture. After a few weeks, Joseph's father was concerned and sent Joseph to go check on them. When they saw Joseph coming, they thought this was their big chance to get rid of him. They threw him into a deep pit, a well without any water, and they were going to leave him there to die, when they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming. And instead they sold him as a slave in Egypt. He worked for a ranking military officer, running his household, cleaning the rooms, mowing the lawn, doing repairs.

Here he had this prophecy spoken over his life, this dream that he would lead a nation, but the environment contradicted what God promised him. The circumstances were the opposite of what he saw in his dream. He's not leading a nation, he's a slave. He's not telling people what to do, he's in captivity: no freedom, in a foreign land. He could've and bitter, seen himself as a victim, "God, I don't understand", but you never read what he complained, you never read what he slacked off. He didn't let the environment change his identity. All the circumstances said he was limited, at a disadvantage, never see his dream, but he kept seeing himself as who God said he would be: as a leader, as a difference maker.

When you face difficulties and things that are not fair, the enemy is not just trying to hinder your destiny, he's trying to steal your identity. If he can deceive you into letting your environment dictate who you are, how people treat you, disappointments, delays, if they cause you to see yourself the wrong way, limited, not valuable, unworthy, that will keep you from your purpose. He's not after your possessions, he's after your identity. If he can control how you see yourself, then he'll limit your future. When you're in a negative environment do like Joseph: don't let the environment get in you. You're not defined by your environment, sometimes it's God leading you into difficulties, sometimes God allows situations where people do you wrong. You have a great dream for your life, you know God has spoken to you, but you find yourself in a pit. How you see yourself in the pit will determine whether you stay in that pit or whether you come out better.

God would have allowed it, if he wasn't going to use it to move you into greater levels of your destiny. In that pit don't take on a victim mentality, don't let that bad break change your identity. You are a victor, you are an overcomer, you are more than a conqueror, you can do all things through Christ. Here's the key: the pit didn't change who you are, the environment didn't stop God's purpose for your life. Joseph was called to be the prince of Egypt. The fact is, he was a prince in a pit. That pit didn't change his calling. He was later put in prison for something he didn't do. He could've lost his identity, "Oh, man, I'll never leave now. I'm not only a slave, I'm a prisoner". No, the environment didn't dictate his identity. He was a prince in the prison. He knew he was who God said he was, whether he was in the pit, in the prison, or in the palace.

You may circumstances that you don't understand. You can feel like a victim: the medical report's not good, people did you wrong, a door closed on your dream. Can I tell you? You're a prince in the prison, you're a prince in the pit, and the good news is: you're going to be a prince in the palace. Your time is coming. What God promised you is on the way.

When the Pharaoh, the leader of the nation had a dream he didn't understand, he was told that Joseph, this prisoner could interpret dreams. The scripture Joseph was brought quickly to the palace. God knows how to suddenly turn things around. He interpreted the Pharaoh's dream, he made Joseph second in command of the whole nation, he became the prince of Egypt. But look at all the opportunities Joseph had to lose his identity: lied about, betrayed, mistreated. When the butler got out of prison he forgot all about Joseph. If he would have let his environment determine who he was, we wouldn't be talking about it.

Like Joseph, we all have opportunities to lose who we really are. Go through a breakup, a divorce, thoughts will start telling you, "You're not valuable, you're not attractive, nobody wants to be around you". Don't take on that defeated identity. That's not who you are. You're a masterpiece. You're made in the image of God. You have royal blood flowing through your veins. God has crowned you with his favor. People don't determine who you are. They don't decide worth and value. When your circumstances are saying just the opposite, you have to do like Joseph and say, "No, this pit didn't change who I am, I'm a prince in the pit. This prison didn't lessen my value, I'm a prince in the prison. My circumstances don't determine my identity, my God determines my identity. I am who God says I am".

But sometimes we can take on the wrong identity: we let what's happened to us, what someone said, mistakes we've made, how we were raised causes to feel like a victim, not valuable. You used to have passion, and believe for big things, but doors closed, and you went through setbacks, now you've lost who you are. The good news is: you can get your identity back. You need to shake off all those lies, break all those strongholds, and start seeing yourself how God sees you. You're a prince, you're a history maker, you're a barrier breaker, you are successful, you are talented, you are valuable. The dream God put in your heart is still on the way. Nothing that's happened to you has changed what God promised: the disappointments, the betrayals, the mistakes, you're still a prince, you're still victorious, you're still favored, and you're still going to become who God created to be.

I know a young woman that was raised in a very limited environment. She came from a dysfunctional family, her father was never around, and her mother had addictions. All she had known growing up was poverty, defeat, compromise. That became her identity. She didn't know any better, she saw herself as limited, not talented, not valuable. Often we adapt to the environment, and we don't even realize it. So, what we've seen modeled growing up, how our friends and neighbors live, that becomes how we see ourselves. And 16 years old this young woman became pregnant. She had to drop out of school, and look like that negative cycle would continue. She was living on welfare, in government housing, raising her son, no future to speak up.

But one day someone invited her to Lakewood. She started attending week after week, and she would hear us talking about how you have seeds of greatness, how you were created to live a victorious life. When you see yourself as God sees you, you can break barriers of the past, you can rise to new levels. As she reprogrammed her thinking, she begin to take on a new identity. Instead of letting her environment dictate who she was, she started believing she was who God said she was: blessed, talented, valuable, with a bright future.

She got a job at the school cafeteria, cleaning dishes, making minimum wage. While she was grateful, something on the inside said she was made for more. She could hear her destiny calling her. She didn't settle for the status quo, she went back to school and got her GED. She wasn't satisfied, she decided to go to college. She would work during the day, and go to school at night. In 4 years she graduated with honors. She still wasn't satisfied, she went back to school and got her master's degree. Today she's the principal at the same school where she used to work in the cafeteria.

What am I saying? Don't let your environment dictate your identity. The truth is: she was a principal, when she was washing dishes. She was a leader, when she was in that dysfunctional home. She just didn't know it yet. On the way to your destiny there will be environments that contradict what God has for you, circumstances that are just the opposite of what you know are in your heart. You know God is restoring health back to you, but the report says you're not going to get well. You know you're going to start at business, but no doors are opening. You know you're going to meet the right person, but there's no sign of it.

It's tempting to let what's not happening define who you are. "I guess, I'll always be lonely. I'll never get healthy again. I'll never be successful". Don't let that environment determine your identity. Those circumstances don't define you. Like this young woman, there are things in you that you haven't discovered yet: your time is coming. The Pharaoh going to call, the doors are going to open. What God promised you is still on the schedule. Now, don't get talked out of who you know you are. Don't let how long it's taking, what you didn't get, who left you convince you to lower your standard, give up on your dream, and see yourself as limited, ordinary, not good enough. God's favor is on your life. He's called you for such a time as this.

And sure you have opposition, that's because the enemy can sense the greatness in you. He knows you're person of destiny. He knows you're called to break barriers, to set new standards. He'll use adversity, bad breaks, dysfunction to try to steal your identity. You may get thrown into a pit, but you have to remind yourself, "This pit didn't change who I am, I'm a prince in the pit, I'm a prince in the prison, and I'm a prince in the palace". The question is: will you keep your identity through the pit, and through the prison? Will you not let the environment convince you that you must heard God wrong? "Man, this opposition is too big. I'm not that talented, I can't reach my dreams. It woulda happened by now". Tune all that out, and keep your mind stayed on what God says about you, "I'm blessed, I'm talented. My future is bright. God is breathing in my direction. I will become all I was created to be".

Think about David. The prophet Samuel came to his father's house to choose the next king of Israel. He saw David's seven older brothers, but he passed over all of them, and he chose David. Was an amazing moment: David, the least likely one. His brothers were bigger, stronger, more experienced, but Samuel poured the oil on David. He was anointed the next king. What's interesting is David didn't go to the palace, he went back to the shepherd's fields. He was out there week after week, month after month. He knew he was a king, he felt the oil running down his head, he heard the prophet declare it, but his circumstances said just the opposite. He was still out taking care of sheep, shoveling their waist, finding their food. I can imagine him at night, alone, no one to talk to, thinking, "Maybe I'm not a king? Maybe Samuel was wrong? God's going to do great things, why am I still stuck out here"?

The enemy knows: if he can steal your identity, convince you that you're not who God says you are, then he can keep you from your destiny. David's environment didn't line up with the prophecy spoken over him. He had no one to lead, no one that looked up to him, no influence, but David understood this principle, "My environment doesn't define who I am. My God defines who I am. God says I'm a king, so I'm going to have a king mentality". David led those sheep with excellence. He used his slingshot to protect those animals, like he was protecting God's people. Others passing by, didn't pay any attention. "It's just that shepherd boy, no big deal". What they didn't know was he was a king in the shepherd's fields. His time was coming. One day he defeated Goliath, and he was thrust into favor and influence that he had never seen. He became who God said he was.

Don't let your environment talk you out of what God promised you. Keep seeing yourself as a king, even though you're in the shepherd's fields right now. That's just a season. Keep seeing yourself as a principal, even though you may be washing dishes. See yourself as a prince, even though you find yourself in a pit. Where you are is not who you are. Don't get bitter over a temporary season. Don't lose your identity over something that's going to change.

This where some people miss God's best: they get discouraged, and they allow it to change who they are. "I'll never step into leadership, I'll never expand my business, never see my family restored, I'm in a pit". You're right where Joseph was. "I'm stuck at the same position", you're right where David was. "I was raised in dysfunction, I've had bad breaks", you're right with that young woman was. You're letting a temporary season, something that contradicts what God put in you, to change who you are. You need to dig down deep and say, "No, I'm not moved by the circumstances. I'm not bitter over the delay. I'm not upset with these brothers that threw me into the pit. None of these things are going to change who I know God made me to be".

Friend of mine told me how when he was 6 years old, the teacher gave the class an assignment. They had to write down what they wanted to be when they grew up. He had seen a man on television that was very funny, that was his dream as a little boy, he knew he wanted to be on television, making people laugh, so he wrote it down. Well, he came from a low-income family, they didn't have much, plus he had a problem with stuttering. The teacher started calling the kids names out, and reading what they had written. When she came to his name, she stopped and said, "Little Stevie, please come up to the front". He started walking to the front of the class, so proud, thinking she was going to congratulate him. Was just the opposite. She said, "Stevie, what did you write". He said, "I wrote that I want to be on television, making people laugh". She said, "Now, Stevie, do you know anyone on television"? He said, "No, ma'am". She said, "Has anyone in your family ever been on television"? He said, "No, ma'am". She said, "Then you need to take this back, and write down something more realistic".

As a little boy he was confused. Nobody had ever told him what he couldn't become. That night he told his father what happened. He showed him the piece of paper where he had written down that he wanted to be on television. His father said, "Listen here, Stevie: you put this in your top drawer, and every morning before you go to school, and every night before you go to bed, you look at that paper, and thank God that one day you're going to be on television". He was telling him: don't let this environment determine your identity.

He had no money, no connections, no way in the natural, but God is supernatural. He won't put a dream in your heart that he can't bring to pass. But there will be these times of testing, where circumstances sees just the opposite, people telling you, "It's not going to happen. Don't get your hopes up, you saw the medical report. You don't come from the right family. You're not king material. You're just a shepherd boy". Let that go in one ear, and out the other. People don't determine in your destiny. They can't see what God put in you. They didn't hear what God whispered to you in the night. Don't expect everyone to cheer you on, David's own father didn't even call him in, when Samuel first came to the house. Don't be surprised if the environment, people around you contradict what God has spoken to you. That doesn't mean it's not going to happen, that's a sign that is on the way.

Now, you have to do your part and not let it change how you see yourself. If you take on limiting identity, "Not able, this giant is too big, I'm not qualified", you're defeating yourself. You have to come into agreement with what God has spoken over your life. Get your identity from him, not from people, not from circumstances, not from your feelings. If you're relying on those things, you'll take on the wrong identity.

Well this little boy grew up with that dream God put in his heart. All the circumstances said it would never happen. In his late 20s, for 3 years he was homeless, and had to live out of his car. His environment said, "You'll never get out of this pit", but deep down, like Joseph, he knew he was a prince in a pit, that the favor of God was on his life. He kept seeing himself as successful, lifting people up, making a difference with his life. God begin to open doors, bring the right people. Today that young boy Stevie is Steve Harvey. He's on television all the time, making people laugh. He gives God all the credit.

Are you letting your environment define who you are? Are your circumstances dictating your identity? You need to go back to who God says you are. Don't let the negative circumstances talk you out of what you know God has spoken over your life. This is what the ten spies did in the scripture. Moses sent them in to spy the Promised Land, and after 40 days they came back and said, "Moses, we don't have a chance. The people are huge. We felt like grasshoppers compared to them". Notice how they saw themselves, "We're just grasshoppers. We're weak, we're defeated". Of all the analogies they could have coming up with, they used a little insect, a little bug that hops around. They could have at least said, "We're like a gerbil, we're like a rabbit, we're like a goat". What's amazing is these ten spies were the cream of the crop, they were warriors, they were skilled and strong. On top of that, they had seen God part the Red Sea, bring water out of a rock, send manna each morning.

The mistake they made, or they made the mistake of letting their environment determine their identity. Because they saw themselves as a grasshopper, weak, defeated, not able to, they never did go into the Promised Land. Don't let that be you. What you're up against may look impossible: the sickness, the dream, the family trouble. It's easy to take on grasshopper mentality, water down your dreams, "It's not meant to be". God wouldn't have allowed it if you weren't well able. There is a king in you. There is a prince in you. There's a principle in you. On your own you may not be able to defeat it, but you're not on your own. The Most High God is breathing on your life. At the appointed time Pharaoh will call. At the appointed time the giant will fall, the door will open, healing will come, a child will turn around.

"Well, Joel, my circumstances look just the opposite", you're right where you're supposed to be. The environment is trying to convince you to change who you are. Don't fall into that trap. You are blessed, you are favored, you are healthy, you are valuable, you are strong, you are victorious. I believe and declare: like Joseph, you're coming out of any pit, any defeat, any sickness, any addiction, into the palace, into freedom, abundance, wholeness. Like David, out of shepherd's fields, into leadership, influence, resources,. Chains are breaking right now. Strongholds are coming down. New doors are opening. The fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen?
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