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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Joel Osteen » Joel Osteen - A Masterpiece In The Making

Joel Osteen - A Masterpiece In The Making

Joel Osteen - A Masterpiece In The Making

I want to talk to you today about A Masterpiece In The Making. It's easy to get down on ourselves because we're not as far along as we want to be. We focus on our flaws, our shortcomings, "Why am I not more disciplined? I'm still struggling with this addiction, being impatient, saying things I know I shouldn't say". Some people live with this nagging feeling on the inside, telling them something is wrong with them and how they don't measure up. But the scripture (Isaiah 64:8) says, "God is the potter and we are the clay". He controls the process: when we change, how fast we change. The key is to accept yourself while God is in that process of changing you. He's taken you from glory to glory. You have to learn to enjoy the glory that you're in right now.

You're not supposed to go through life being against yourself, overanalyzing your faults - that doesn't help you do better. Focusing on your weaknesses doesn't help you improve. All that's doing is slowing down the process. We put all this pressure on ourselves to change, "I got to be more focused, I've got to watch my mouth, I got to be a better mother, better spouse, better employee". And it's good to want to improve, we should strive for excellence and be growing, but don't get frustrated if it's not happening as fast as you would like. Some things only God can change. Until he gives you the grace to do it, you have to accept yourself where you are. It takes maturity to have peace in the process. Even though you have areas you need to improve in, you're not negative toward yourself. Your attitude is, "God, I have these shortcomings. I want to change, but I trust you as the potter. I know, at the right time you'll give me the grace, but in the meantime I'm going to enjoy where you have me right now".

One thing that holds people back is they don't like who they are. There's this war going on on the inside. But the problem with not liking you is: you can never get away from you. You can get away from your cousin, your neighbor, your co-worker, but you have to live with you. You get up with you, you eat dinner with you, you go to work with you, shower with you, take vacations with you. If you don't like yourself, life is going to be miserable. You may have some shortcomings - we all do. You may have areas you wish you'd overcome by now - we all do. The good news is: you're not a finished product, God is still working on you. He has you on the potter's wheel, making you and molding you. It's not just up to you. You don't have to live under this constant pressure, striving, working trying to measure up. God is the one who's in charge. You can relax and enjoy your life while God is in the process of changing you.

"Well, Joel, I feel good about myself when I lose 10 pounds. I like myself when I break the addiction, when I control my temper better, when I spend more time with my children". The problem with that approach is when you cross one thing off your list something new will pop up. You overcome this weakness, and God will bring to light another area you can come up higher in. If you don't learn to enjoy yourself where you are, faults and all, you'll go your whole life feeling wrong on the inside, that vague feeling of disapproval. It's very powerful when you can say, "I like myself. Yes, I have areas I need to improve in, there are things I need to do better, but I'm at peace with who I am right now. I accept myself, I approve myself, I am happy with who God made me to be".

When you do that despite your flaws, you give the enemy a nervous breakdown. He'd love for you to go through life focused on everything wrong with you, magnifying everything you don't like. He knows, if you live against yourself, you will never reach your potential. You allow that condemning voice convincing you that you're not up to par, that will keep you from becoming who you were created to be. The scripture (Hebrew 12:2) says, "Looking away from all that will distract, to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith". God is the author. He breathed life into you. He chose you to be here, gave you a purpose, an assignment, something to accomplish. He's not just the author, he's the finisher, he's going to keep making you, molding you, giving you grace to come up higher until he finishes.

Now the key is: don't give up in the middle. Don't get discouraged while you're being changed. He's in control. As long as you're being your best, you don't have to perform perfectly, but you have a heart to do what's right, then you can be assured: when it's time to change, all the forces of darkness cannot stop you. But, notice there's a requirement for this to happen: looking away from all that will distract. Focusing on your flaws will distract you from your purpose. Magnifying your weaknesses, what you don't like about yourself will keep you from your potential. Look away from all that and look to your maker.

God told Jeremiah, "Before you were formed in your mother's womb, I knew you and approved you". Before Jeremiah ever did anything good, before he ever overcame a weakness, before he ever became a great prophet, God said, "I approved you and I've accepted you". We think when we perform better then we can approve ourselves, when we get rid of these flaws, overcome this bad habit, be more patient, then we can feel good about who we are. But God approves you, why don't you approve yourselves? He's not waiting for you to get better then he's going to accept you. He knew every shortcoming, every weakness you would ever have. He said, "I still approve you". It's because he's the potter, he knows those flaws aren't going to keep you from your destiny, they don't stop your purpose.

The only way they'll limit you is if you live down on yourself, feeling wrong, putting all this pressure trying to change things that only God can change. Do your best and then rest. He's the potter. He'll work out things that shouldn't be there. Stay pliable, be willing to change, but don't be down on yourself if it's not happening as fast as you would like. Give yourself permission to have some weaknesses, give yourself the grace to not perform perfectly all the time. And I'm not saying to be sloppy, live flip it. We should dig down, have disciplined, be focused, be growing, but don't live pressured, thinking that you have to make it all happen in your own strength.

God told Jeremiah that he was going to become a great prophet and speak to nations. First thing Jeremiah said was, "God, I can't do that. I'm too young. I don't have the training, I wouldn't know what to say". He started looking at all of his shortcomings. "God I'm not old enough, I'm not confident enough, secure enough, experienced enough". As long as he focused on that, he was stuck. God said to him (Jeremiah 1:7), "Say not that you're too young. I will give you the words to speak. Do not be afraid of the people. Everywhere you go I will be with you". God was saying, "Jeremiah, I'm the potter. I don't ask you to do things and then not give you what you need to do it. I've already approved you, I've already accepted you, I've already anointed you".

Jeremiah had to change his thinking. Instead of, "I'm insecure, I have these weaknesses, I'm limited" - "No, I'm a child of the Most High God. He's approved me, so I'm going to approve myself. I'm accepted by the Creator of the universe, so I'm going to accept myself". He quit being down on himself, focusing on his faults, and he rose up and became a great prophet to the nations. What could you become if you would quit focusing on all the things you don't like about yourself, and start approving yourself? How much further will you go? How much more will you enjoy your life, if you'll take all the pressure off yourself to change and trust the potter?

You may have some flaws, things you wish were different, so did Jeremiah. God didn't say, "Jeremiah, why are you so insecure, so intimidated? I had something great for you, I guess I'll have to find someone else". No, God said, "Jeremiah, I knew you would have weaknesses, but I've already approved you. I knew what you struggle with, but I'm the potter. It's no problem for me, I'll make you and mold you until you become who I've created you to be". Are you focused on your flaws, what you don't like about yourself? Or you looking away from those distractions? Are you living pressured, thinking you have to make it all happen in your own strength, your own timing? Or are you trusting the potter, at peace with where you are while he's in the process of changing you?

Paul said in Ephesians you are God's masterpiece. It's interesting: a masterpiece never makes itself. The Mona Lisa had a painter, Leonardo Da Vinci. The statue of David had a sculptor, Michelangelo. Without Da Vinci that's just an ordinary canvas, some paint, brushes, no big deal. Without Michelangelo it's just a big piece of stone. Someone could have looked at it and thought, "There's nothing special about this rock". What made the difference was the maker. The good news is: you have a maker, you have a designer. It's not Michelangelo, it's not Da Vinci, your maker is the Most High God. It's not up to you to become a masterpiece, that's your maker's job. You don't have to strive, perform and live under all this pressure. You have a designer that's making you and molding you. He knows exactly what you need, when you need, where you need it. You can relax, knowing that you're a masterpiece in the making.

You may have some flaws, areas you need to do better in: you're not finished, the master is still at work. If you were to watch Da Vinci painting the Mona Lisa, there would be times that you'd think, "That doesn't look like much. It's just a bunch of black over here, and some random colors over there, looks blah to us". But the artist has an advantage, he can see the picture in his mind. He knows what he's making. What looks like a mistake, a flaw, when he has add some more strokes, more color, definition, shadowing, it begins to make sense. When it all comes together it becomes the masterpiece.

It's the same way with our designer: there are strokes you may not understand, things that seem like flaws and weaknesses, this color doesn't make sense, this bad break, "Why do I still struggle in this area"? By itself it looks like a mistake, but stay patient, the master is at work. Someone far greater than Michelangelo is working on you. Someone far more skilled than Da Vinci, your artist created solar systems, galaxies, sunsets, mountain ranges, all these incredible creations.

But what's significant is: when God created those things, he said in Genesis chapter 1 that it was good, that he was pleased. But when he created man, that's the only time he said "That was very good". You can imagine when God saw the universe, when he saw these incredible mountain ranges, and spectacular sunsets he knew that was good. But when he created you, he thought, "Wow, there's a real masterpiece. That's what I call extraordinary, magnificent". Not the solar system, not the grand canyon, not the swiss alps, that's great, but his most prized possession, what he considers a masterpiece is you.

Sometimes we're striving so hard, trying to fix this, be more of that, stay more focused over there. And yes, I know we have to work with God, but when you recognize it's not up to you to become a masterpiece, that's up to your designer, then you can relax. You can stay in peace in the process, knowing that even though you have some shortcomings, things you don't like, God is working on you. You're right on schedule. You don't have too many flaws, too many imperfections, God has already approved you, he's already called you a masterpiece. He can already see the finished product, he knows exactly what he's making you into.

Now take the pressure off yourself. When you're trying to do it all on your own, it's frustrating. "Why am I still dealing with this? It's taking so long. Why do I still struggle in this same area"? Before long you're down on yourself, feeling wrong on the inside, that's what slows down the process. Being against yourself is limiting your growth, it's keeping you from God's best.

The enemy would love for you to go through life feeling like you don't measure up, you don't deserve to be blessed. Don't believe those lies, you are a masterpiece in the making. God knew everything about you, and he still approves you. He knew every flaw, every shortcoming, and he still accepts you. You don't have too much wrong with you, you haven't made too many mistakes, God has already approved you. He's already said, "That was very good". Why don't you start approving yourself? Not when you perform better, not when you get it all together, accept yourself while you're in the process of changing.

One morning Jesus was at the Sea of Galilee, and so many people had gathered around. He asked Peter if he could borrow his boat so he could push out from the shore and teach the people. He'd never met Peter, but Peter agreed. After Jesus finished, he told Peter to go back out into the water and he would catch a great hall of fish. Peter had fished all night, caught nothing. Didn't make sense to his mind, but he went back out and caught so many fish that his nets begin to break. He had to call another boat over, and they both were so loaded down, they begin to sink. Peter came to the shore, and he fell at Jesus feet and said, "Sir, please go away from me, I'm too much of a sinner to be around you". Jesus said to him (Matthew 4:19), "Peter, follow me and I will make you fishers of men",

Peter was thinking about all of his flaws, all of his shortcomings: he was hot tempered, loud, impatient. He was a fisherman, they were rough and use strong language. Three years after he had been following Jesus he cursed a lady out that said he was a disciple. One time he cut off a soldier's ear trying to defend Jesus. Another time he denied that he knew Christ. The Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked him to stay up and pray, but Peter fell asleep. He didn't have great character, great integrity, loyalty, he didn't come from a background of faith. He was all over the place. When Jesus said, "Follow me", he thought, "Jesus, you have the wrong person. You don't know who I am. I have all these weaknesses". Jesus could have said, "You're right, Peter. I should have done a better background check. I didn't know you're going to be cursing people out, cutting off ears and denying that you knew me. You're a mess, I better find somebody else".

Jesus knew everything about Peter. He knew his shortcomings, he knew every mistake he would make, every time he would fail, but he also knew what Peter could become. We judge people on the outside, but God looks on the inside. He knew Peter was a masterpiece in the making, that he just had to be refined and work with so he could discover who he really was. At one point Jesus said to him, "You are Simon, but you shall be called Peter". Simon represents shifting sand, unstable, inconsistent, but Peter means rock. Of all the people Jesus could have chosen, he said to Peter (Matthew 16:18), "Upon this rock I will build my church".

Here's a man that seems the least likely that God would build a church on: a fisherman, with rough language, that compromises, that's hot tempered. How could this be? Here's the phrase that tells us: Jesus said to Peter, "Follow me, and I WILL MAKE YOU". Jesus was saying, "Peter, you can't do this on your own. I can see why you're confused, you're looking at your flaws, but I'm looking at your potential. You're looking at your dysfunction, but I'm looking at your destiny. You think you're a mess, but what you can't see is you're a masterpiece. It's not up to you to change yourself, Peter, follow me and I will make you, I will refine you, I will favor you, I will give you strength, I will open new doors, I will set you on a better path, I will bring out your talents, I will make you into the masterpiece that I created you to be".

When Jesus called Peter, told him in effect, "I'm going to do something awesome with your life. I'm going to make you into a person with great character and integrity and discipline. I'll will cause you to set a new standard and leave your mark". Often we think like Peter, "Not me, God, you don't know who I am, you don't know what I struggle with. I still have all these flaws, I still don't perform like I should". God is saying to you what he said to Peter, "I will make you. It's not just up to you, don't worry about what you're dealing with, I'm going to change things, I'm going to breathe my freedom, my healing, my favor, my strength. I'm going to help you do what you can't do on your own".

Jesus said, "You are Simon, but you shall be called Peter". We get stuck on the YOU ARE - "You are addicted, you are undisciplined, you are impatient, you are hot tempered". That's where the enemy would love for you to stop, "Look at you man. You should be down on yourself, you can't get it together, still dealing with the same things". God is saying, "I know what you are right now, I know what you haven't been able to overcome, but stay encouraged, YOU SHALL BE is on the way". God is going to make you. It's not up to you to make yourself, it's up to you to follow him, keep him first place, stay pliable and he will make you.

Peter was at this critical point. He'd stayed focused on his flaws and how unworthy he was, how he didn't measure up, we wouldn't be talking about him. He had to shift his focus from thinking he had to change himself to believing that God would change him. When Jesus said, "Follow me and I will make you", something switched in his mindset. "The pressure is not on all me to do it, he's going to make me", that's when he dropped his nest and followed Jesus. He had to be willing to accept himself, to be at peace with who he was while God was in the process of changing him. Didn't happen overnight, he still had rough edges, but he knew he was a work in progress, that he wasn't a finished product.

After Jesus died and rose again, the first church was starting, they needed someone to give the inaugural address, this very prestigious role. They didn't choose a rabbi, a theologian, the chief priest, they chose Peter. He spoke and three thousand people gave their life to Christ. Peter was the one that when people got in his shadow they were healed. This was the man that said, "I'm unworthy". The man that said, "I don't have it all together, I have too many shortcomings, I'll never measure up". But look what happens when you let God make you: the masterpiece comes out.

"Well, Joel, I don't know, man, I'm still struggle in these areas. I should be further along, I'm not as disciplined as I should be". The problem is: you're trying to do it all in your own strength. That's pressure, that's when you feel wrong on the inside, that nagging feeling, "Why can't I do better"? Try a different approach, "God, I have some flaws, I have weaknesses, but I believe I'm a masterpiece in the making. I know you've approved me, you've accepted me, you've already planned my days for good. Like Peter I'm gonna follow you and let you make me. I'm going to accept myself while you're changing me. I'm going to enjoy the glory that I'm in right now".

Psalm 100:3 says, "Know with approval, the Lord our God is he who makes us and not we ourselves". You're trying to be a self-made person, do it all on your own, change this, fix this, you're going to struggle, that's a constant battle. But when you let God makes you it takes the pressure off. When you learn to like yourself where you are, knowing that he's in control of the process, how fast it happens, then you can enjoy your life while God is working.

When my father passed and I stepped up to pastor the church, I didn't feel qualified. I was insecure and intimidated. My father had a big personality, and I'm more quiet and reserved. The newspaper said, "No large church where the son took over ever made it". I overheard a couple people talking about how I wasn't as good as my father. When you're about to step into a new level, the enemy will work overtime to try to make you feel unqualified, unworthy, like you don't measure up. I had to do what I'm asking you to do. I said, "God, I know you've raised me up for this time. You said: if I follow you, you would make me. I'm looking away from all these distractions, from what I'm not, from what I don't have, from what people have said, and I'm trusting you to get me to where I'm supposed to be".

Voices would whisper in the night, "You're not qualified". I learned to say, "Talk to my maker". "You're not strong enough" - talk to my maker. "You don't have what your father had" - talk to my maker. "You need to be more dynamic" - talk to my maker. You can't make yourself into a masterpiece, that's your maker's job. You follow him, believe what he says about you, obey that still small voice, and he'll make you into the masterpiece he created you to be. My challenge today is: don't go through life against yourself, feeling wrong on the inside because you're not as far along as you should be. Neither was Peter when Jesus called him, but he still became a masterpiece. You have to put on that approval, know that God is pleased with you right where you are. He's not shaking his head because you're still dealing with some things, he's the one that's going to help you get free.

Why don't you accept yourself while he's changing you? Being down on yourselves not going to help you do better. Until you like who you are, even though you have shortcomings, you'll never reach your potential. Take the pressure off. Trying to perform perfectly, then you're going to feel good about who you are, that's going to frustrate you. Do your best and trust God to take care of the rest. He's the potter, he has you on the wheel: follow him and he will make you. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: this is a new day, things that have hindered you in the past will hinder you no more. You're about to experience a new sense of freedom, wholeness, fulfillment, joy, victory. You will become the masterpiece God created you to be, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen?
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