Joel Osteen - Keep The Faith
I want to talk to you today about Keep The Faith. God has a great plan for your life, something more than you've imagined, but that plan won't come to pass without opposition, things you don't understand, things that are not fair. God doesn't take us in a straight line: there will be detours, delays, even some dead ends. You come to a Red Sea, you face a Goliath. It seems like a setback, but really it's a setup. Feels like it's stopping your destiny, the fact is: it's leading you to your destiny. The test is to keep the faith. You'll be tempted to get discouraged, give up on your dreams, "God, why did this happen"? God wouldn't have allowed it if it was going to stop your purpose. His ways are not our ways.
Faith is trusting when you don't understand, it's believing when all your circumstances say "It's never going to work out". It's knowing that God is on the throne, that his plans for you are for good, that what he has purposed for your life will come to pass. That door that closed, you didn't like it, but God was ordering your steps. That person that walked away, it was painful, but it was a part of God's plan: you didn't need them for your destiny. That contract you lost, the child that's difficult to raise, that tough season at work, it may not be good now, but if you'll keep the faith, all things are going to work together for your good. God knows how to bring good out of a bad situation.
You have to have a made-up mind that you're in it for the long haul. No matter what comes your way, you're going to keep believing, keep trusting, keep praising, keep dreaming, knowing that God has you in the palm of his hand, that he's working behind the scenes, that he has the final say. He said, "No weapon formed against you will ever prosper". He said, "What was meant for your harm he would turn to your advantage". God being for you is more than the world being against you. Don't be moved by what you see, what you see is only temporary. When it all comes together, then it will make sense.
And I found: the the enemy is not fighting you for where you are, he's fighting you for where you're going. He knows there's greatness in you. He can sense you're a world changer, a giant killer, a history maker. If you weren't a threat to him, he'd leave you alone. That's why he'll bring difficulties, bad breaks, things that are not fair. He's trying to get you discouraged where you live doubting, thinking that God has forgotten about you. Don't fall into that trap. This is when you have to dig down deep and make this decision, that you're going to keep the faith. You lost a loved one, but you kept the faith. You lost a position, you kept the faith. Your health went down, you had a setback in your finances, but you kept the faith. God sees you doing the right thing when it's hard, he sees you believing when you could be discouraged, praising through the pain, being good to people that have not been good to you. Your time is coming, favor, healing, breakthroughs, victory is on the way.
Nobody had more come against them than the apostle Paul. He faced all kinds of betrayals, rejection, hardships. 2 Corinthians chapter 11 he lists some of them. He said: three times he was beaten with rods, this was for sharing his faith. Five times he was given 39 lashes. Once he was stoned by an angry mob, he was falsely accused and put in prison. On top of that, when he first became a believer, on the road to Damascus the church wouldn't accept him, they didn't think he really changed. For years he was rejected by the leaders. At his trial he said, "Nobody stood with me. All my friends, colleagues, people I was counting on, they weren't there". He said, "Alexander the coppersmith did me great wrong. Demas deserted me".
He had all these opportunities to be bitter, angry, but at the end of his life, sitting in a prison cell he gives us the secret to living in victory. He said (2 Timothy 4:7) "I have kept the faith, I have finished my course". He was saying, "People betrayed me, that didn't stop my destiny. Alexander did me wrong, but God will fight my battles. The leaders wouldn't accept me, but I'm not bitter, I'll go somewhere else and share. I got put in prison, I'm not sitting around in self-pity, I can't travel and speak, they took away my freedom, but they didn't take away my pen. They can't keep my words from going out". He wrote much of the New Testament from a prison cell. What a great testimony to come to the end of life and be able to say with Paul, "I have kept the faith". "Went through a rough childhood, but I kept the faith. Didn't get that scholarship, but I kept the faith. Friend walked out on me, boss got on my nerves, went through cancer, but I kept the faith".
Paul said in acts 20:24, "None of these things move me". You have to get to the point where you're not moved by disappointment, not moved by opposition, not moved by the medical report. "Yes, it doesn't look good, but there's another report: God says he's restoring health back unto me". You can stay in peace, knowing that God has the final say. You're not moved by the financial setback, business slowed down, you could live stressed, not able to sleep. Or you can say, "God, I know you will supply all of my needs. You clothe the lies of the field, you take care and feed the birds of the air, I know you'll take care of me". I love one doesn't make it, you could be depressed, give up on your dreams. "No, God, you said you'd give me beauty for these ashes. You said there's joy for this morning. That my latter days will be better than my former days".
This is what I had to do. I lost my father, but I kept the faith. People said I couldn't minister, but I kept the faith. The experts said we'd never get the Compaq Center, but we kept the faith. A company filed a lawsuit to try to keep us from moving in. I would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, thoughts telling me "Joel, you you're going to look like a fool. You've already told the people it was yours, what if you don't win the lawsuit"? I was tempted to worry, live upset, but I made this decision: I'm going to keep the faith. We saw God step in and do what we couldn't do. You may be facing things now, and you don't see how it's going to work out: your finances, your health, a relationship. You could be stressed, lose your passion. If Paul were here today, he would tell you "Keep the faith".
God is still on the throne. He has a way even though you don't see a way. Life may have thrown you some curves, but it's not a surprise to God. The enemy didn't somehow overtake the plan for your life, he didn't get your steering wheel and now he's in control. God is still ordering your steps. He's with you in the trouble, in the sickness, in the loss. That's a critical time. You could get discouraged, start doubting. Now, have a new perspective, "God, I trust you. I know what you have purposed for my life will come to pass. That this setback is really setting me up for new levels of my destiny".
As we celebrate my mother's 90th birthday today we can look back and see how she has kept the faith. You don't live 90 years without hardships, disappointments and things you don't understand. As a little girl she had polio. One of her legs is much smaller than the other. She couldn't run and play like the other children, she could have lived thinking she is at a disadvantage, a handicap. That never stopped my mother. She took the hand she had been dealt and made the most of it. My father was pastoring a church, when my sister Lisa was born with a birth injury, something like cerebral palsy. Of course, my parents were devastated, they were tempted to get discouraged, "God, why did this happen? This is not fair". But in those tough times don't turn from your faith, turn to your faith. God is the one who will help you get through it.
My father had been taught in seminary that the day of miracles was over, that was for back then when Jesus was alive on the earth. He went to a hotel downtown for a few days to be alone, and he read the scriptures like he was reading it for the first time. He saw how Jesus went around healing people and doing so much good. He realized there never was a day of miracles, there's a God of miracles, and he's still alive. He and my mother prayed over Lisa and asked God to heal her. They were told she would never be able to feed herself, never be able to walk, but little by little she got better and better, and today Lisa is perfectly healthy. But God may not have sent the storm, but he will use the storm to move you into your destiny. The storm will take you where you couldn't go on your own. That's why in difficulties, betrayals, things you don't understand you have to keep the faith. God is up to something. It may be painful, it's not fair, but God is still in control. You can't see what he's doing right now, you don't know where that's leading you to.
My father came back to his church with a new fire, a new passion. He started sharing about how God is a healer, and how he wants us to live a life of victory. He thought everyone would be excited, but some of them didn't like it, didn't fit into their tradition. There was so much contention and discord, that my parents had to leave. They had poured their heart and soul into those people, never dreaming it would come to an end like that. My mother was 26 years old, she had friends she had known for years that never spoke to her again. My parents felt that sting of rejection. They could have been bitter, offended, but they trusted when it didn't make sense. They didn't understand why the door closed, why they would be pushed out, they were doing the right thing. The truth is: that storm wasn't the enemy, it was the hand of God moving them to a new level of their destiny.
My parents went out, started Lakewood in an abandoned feed store, this little rundown building with 90 people. The critics said we'd never make it, but here we are today 64 years later, and still going strong. But God knew: my parents couldn't fulfill their purpose in that limited environment. They would have never left that church on their own, God had to force them out. Sometimes God will push you into your destiny. He loves you too much to let you miss your purpose. What looks like a disappointment, a betrayal, a setback, could be God stirring things up to get you in position for something greater.
Now, the key is: what do you do in the tough times, when things don't make sense, you don't understand it? Do you get upset, lose your passion? No, keep the faith. God is in control. If he allowed it, he's going to somehow going to get good out of it. Even Lisa being born with that birth injury, we can look back now and see how it was all a part of God's plan. Without that difficulty my father would have never searched the scriptures and seen God in a new light. It's very powerful we you can say, "God, I trust you in the good times, and I trust you in the tough times. God I'm going to keep the faith when I understand it, when things are going my way, when I'm seeing your favor. And I'm going to keep the faith when doors close, when sickness shows up, when people betray me, when it doesn't seem fair".
That's what Paul said, "None of these things move me". Yes, I had a bad break, but I'm not moved. I still believe God's in control. I still believe his plans for me are for good. I still believe what he purposed for my life will come to pass. Paul was a prisoner on a boat headed to Rome. An angel told him that he was going to stand before Caesar. He had this promise from God, but on the journey they encountered a huge storm. For 14 days they didn't see the sun nor the stars. The waves were so big, and the wind so strong, they started throwing cargo overboard to keep the boat from sinking. The crew was so depressed, they quit eating. The scripture says all hope that they would be saved was gone. Paul could have thought, "God, you said I was going to Rome. I must have heard you wrong, we're all about to die". Now, Paul told the crew: don't worry, we're all going to make it to the shore. Not one life will be lost.
After two weeks of being battered by the storm, they saw an island off in the distance. The winds blew them closer and closer, the boat finally hit a huge sandbar and broke apart. The scripture says they all grabbed pieces of the boat, and used it to swim to the shore. In a few hours, all 276 passengers made it safely to the island. But when the boat broke apart, I'm sure some of them panic, thinking "That's it. We're done. Out here in the water, we can't swim that far". But God will always leave you something to make it to the shore. They didn't have what they thought they needed, they didn't have a boat, but they had pieces of wood to make it to the island. You may not have what you think you need, but there will be pieces to get you to where you're supposed to be. You're going to make it without what you lost.
Paul got to the island, he reached down to grab some firewood, and a poisonous snake bit his arm. The natives knew that in a few hours he would swell up and die. They'd seen it happen time and time again. Paul shook it off, and went about his business. It never affected him. They were so amazed, they thought he was a God. Paul went over and prayed for sick people, and they got well. He shared his faith, the whole island came to know the Lord. Sometimes God will take you on a detour to your destiny. He said you're going to Rome, but you find yourself on a deserted island, thinking "This doesn't make sense". It's not just about you, it's about what God needs you to do. He has people he wants you to impact, people that need your love, people that need your healing.
"Joel, I'm not an apostle like Paul". Yes, but as a believer, there's healing in your hands, there's healing in your words. Sometimes we can get so caught up in our plans, and our storm, and our bad break, that we miss the miracles along the way. It's a divine detour. You're not going to understand it, you have to trust that God knows what he's doing. He's ordering your steps. The delays, the detours, things that don't make makes sense, you're not there by accident. Look for opportunities to be good to people. As you help others, that's a seed God will use to help you.
My mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1981, given a few weeks to live, no treatment they could give her. She could have come home from the hospital bitter, "God, after all these years of serving you, you mean this is how it's going to end"? I never heard her complain. All through the day going through the house, "I will live and not die. God is restoring health back into me". 42 years later she's still healthy and strong. But out of that sickness God birthed a healing ministry in my mother. Often out of pain comes purpose, out of difficulties comes destiny. The enemy means it for harm, but God knows how to make it backfire. He'll use it to thrust you into your purpose.
Every week for years my mother would go down to the medical center and have a healing service in the chapel, praying for people from all over the world. When COVID hit, she started doing zoom prayer meetings. It's amazing where God will take you if you'll just keep the faith. You get in a storm, your boat falls apart, but you swim to shore, "God, I know you're still with me. I trust you". Your child gets in trouble, you could live worried, thinking it's never going to work out, "Father, thank you that my seed is blessed. That my children will become who you've created them to be".
1999 my father passed unexpectedly. Now, my mother was a widow. Without her husband of over 40 years would she get depressed, discouraged. She did what she always did: she kept the faith. Couple of months after daddy died, I called a check on her. I heard all this noise and commotion in the background. Said, "Mother, where are you? Are you all right"? She said, "Yeah, Joel, I'm fine. I flew to Colorado with some of the girls to watch the Astros play baseball". I thought, "Man, you're supposed to be mourning, you're out there partying".
But since my father has died, she's written two books, gone on 220 nights of hope, prayed for thousands of people, come to three services a weekend. That's what it means to keep the faith. That's when you're going to live life to the full. You're not moved by bad breaks, disappointments, medical reports. You just keep on keeping on: keep on believing, keep praying, keep dreaming, keep serving. The boat may break apart, but you grab a piece and swim to shore. You know it's not a surprise to God. He didn't bring you this far to leave you.
Maybe today you need to dig down a little deeper. You're letting doubt, delays, detours, what someone said caused you to live sour, discouraged. You need to get your passion back, get your joy back, get your vision back. What happened may not have been fair, but God has beauty for those ashes. He'll pay you back for the wrongs. The mistake you made did not stop God's plan for your life: receive the forgiveness, and move on. Your destiny is calling. Your assignment is waiting. Yes, there may be big obstacles, but we serve a big God. He wouldn't have let you get in that difficulty if he couldn't bring you out. Now, do your part and keep the faith.
Paul had a young man that he mentored named Timothy, and he was on the verge of getting discouraged and missing his purpose. Paul said to him, "Timothy, stir up your gifts, fan the flame, get your passion back". He was telling him to keep the faith. He went on to say something significant. He said (2 Timothy 1:5), "Timothy, the faith I saw in your mother Eunice and in your grandmother Lois, that faith I now see in you". Paul was telling us that when you keep the faith, that faith is not just impacting you, making your life better, but it's transferred to your children, to your grandchildren. Paul saw the faith of Timothy's grandmother in him.
Every time you stand strong, do the right thing when it's hard, believe for your dreams even though circumstances are against you, you grab that piece of wood and make it through the storm, you are making it easier on your children, and on your grandchildren. It's not just personal, it's generational. How that should inspire us to live a life of faith? I want to make it better on my children, easier on my grandchildren. I want them to have a foundation of faith, knowing that we serve an awesome God, that he can take you places that you've never dreamed, that he can give you a Compaq Center, that he can heal you from terminal cancer, that he can sustain you in a storm, that he can bring gifts out of you that you didn't know you had.
I think about now how I'm a Timothy: I had a mother and a grandmother that dared to believe, that prayed, that loved God, that helped others. None of us got to where we are on our own. The faith of your mother, faith of your grandparents, the faith of the people that raised you, someone in your family line had faith, and it was passed on to you or you wouldn't be hearing this. Now, it's our turn. Are we just going to make it through life, sour over the disappointment, bitter over the loss? No, keep the faith! God is in control! He's ordering your steps! It may not be good, but God's not finished. You keep the faith, and you're going to see what God is up to. He'll not just bring you out, he'll bring you out better.
My mother dealing with polio child with a birth injury, having to leave the church, terminal cancer, losing my father, I didn't even tell you the hardest one: raising my brother Paul. That was like dealing with 14 children. I love how God said, "He'll pay you back double for the unfair things", well, eight years later I was born. I'm only joking, y'all, here we go.
We all know what an amazing leader David was, how he overcame being rejected by his father, looked down on by his brothers, mistreated by king Saul. Despite all the bad breaks he kept the faith, did the right thing when it was hard. It's interesting to go back three generations, his great grandmother was Ruth. Ruth was an amazing woman, her husband died at a young age, and she became a widow. Her mother-in-law Naomi, when she lost both of her sons, she became bitter. She's going to move back home to Bethlehem. She and her husband and two sons left during a famine years before and went to Moab, that's where Ruth met her son. Now, the husband and sons had died. Naomi said, "I went out full, but I'm coming home empty". Ruth told her that she was going to go back with her and help take care of her. Here Ruth was disappointed, gone through loss, but she wanted to make sure that her mother-in-law was okay. She'd go out in the fields every morning and gather up the wheat, that's how they survived.
Despite all the loss and heartache, she still believed that God was in control. She ended up marrying a man named Boaz, he owned all those fields. God gave her a new beginning. On top of that, they had a baby boy. She was so thrilled, they named him obed, obed had a son named Jesse, Jesse had a son named David. No wonder David was so strong, confident, full of faith: it started back with his great grandmother Ruth. You can make a generational difference by keeping the faith.
Paul said in Galatians 5:7, "You were running so well, who has hindered you"? Have you let something hinder you today? Disappointments, bad breaks, delays? You used to be passionated, you used to pursue your dreams, you had a heart for God, but now you've lost that fire. Something happened like Naomi, where you gotten discouraged, you're just making it through life. The good news is: you can get it back. It's not too late. God is saying to you what he said to Timothy: stir up your faith, fan that flame! God's calling is still on your life. His purpose is waiting for you. You can still become who you were created to be.
My prayer is that when we come to the end of life, we'll be able to say like Paul, "We have kept the faith". Yes, we had difficulties. Yes, we went through things we didn't understand, but we knew God was in control, that he was fighting our battles, that it was all working for our good. Friends, God has you in the palm of his hand. He's ordering your steps. There are awesome days up ahead. I believe and declare: because you're keeping the faith, your children and grandchildren will be better off. Like Ruth, God's going to turn mourning into dancing. Like Paul, you're going to come safely through every storm. Like my mother, you will see the faithfulness of God from generation to generation, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen?