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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Joel Osteen » Joel Osteen - Trusting God's Ways

Joel Osteen - Trusting God's Ways

Joel Osteen - Trusting God's Ways
TOPICS: Trust, Troubles, Hard times, Encouragement

I want to talk to you today about Trusting God's Ways. We're not going to understand everything that happens in life. There will be detours, delays, even dead ends, times where it looks like we're stuck. It's easy to get discouraged when our plans don't work out, and frustrated when a door closes, bitter over that person that did us wrong. It's like we went one step forward, then two steps backwards. But God doesn't always take us in a straight line. The scripture says, "Everything serves his plan". Not just the good breaks, the times you're promoted, seeing favor, but even the closed doors, the person that walked away, the promotion you didn't get. Doesn't make sense to us, but God has a master plan. He can see things that we can't see. And sometimes he'll take you backwards, so he can move you forward. He'll close a door to force us to change. We were comfortable where we were, we were satisfied, but God wasn't satisfied. He has something greater, something that we've never imagined.

He uses trouble as transportation. We don't like the trouble, feels like a setback. The truth is: it's a setup. The trouble is not there to stop you, it's there to propel you. On the other side of that challenge is a new level of your destiny. The question is: will you trust him in the trouble? Will you stay in peace when things are happening that you don't understand? You worked hard, but didn't get the position. You were good to that person, but they walked away. It's tempting to get bitter, "God, it's not fair, where are you"? Now, the right attitude is, "God, I don't like this, but I trust you. I know you're in control. You wouldn't have allowed this storm if you weren't going to use it to my advantage. So, I'm going to stay in faith, I'm going to keep a good attitude, knowing that something greater is coming".

Mark chapter 6, Jesus had been teaching the people, and it was late in the day. He told his disciples to get them something to eat. Well, they were in a remote area, there weren't any grocery stores. Even if there were, they didn't have the funds to feed thousands of people. They said, "Jesus, that's impossible, we can't feed everyone." he asked them what they had. They came back and said, "All we could find were five loaves of bread and two fish". Jesus prayed over it, and it multiplied. They fed the first group of 50, then the next and on and on. And after 5,000 men plus the women and the children had plenty to eat, they gathered up 12 baskets full left over. The disciples couldn't believe it. They were so excited, they' just seen this amazing miracle. I can see them giving high fives, hugging each other, there's this all this joy and victory. But while they were still celebrating, Jesus came over and said, "I want you to get in the boat, leave here and go across the lake to Bethsaida".

Imagine them thinking, "We don't want to leave. This is a place of favor and blessing. We just seen you perform a great miracle", but the scripture (Mark 6:45) says, "Immediately after they gathered the 12 baskets, Jesus made the disciples get in the boat and head toward Bethsaida". One translation says, "He constrained them to get in the boat". That implies they didn't want to. They wanted to stay in that place of blessing, but Jesus forced them to leave. He went up in the mountains to pray, that night as the disciples were traveling across the Sea of Galilee there was a great storm, winds and waves so strong. Verse 48 says, "They were in serious trouble". And some of them were experienced fishermen, they knew how to navigate on the sea, they dealt with storms, but this situation was very dangerous, they didn't know if they were going to make it.

What's significant is Jesus sent them into this storm. He knew there was going to be trouble, he knew they're going to have to deal with fear, uncertainty and doubt. But he wouldn't have sent them if he didn't know they were going to make it. Sometimes God will take you out of a comfortable situation, out of a place of blessing where you're seeing favor, and they'll force you into your boat so to speak. Doesn't make sense, you know God's order in your steps, you've seen his blessings, but now the winds and the waves. "God, I never thought I'd be dealing with this trouble, this medical issue, or this child that's off course". You find yourself in a storm.

Can I encourage you? God wouldn't have allowed the storm if you weren't going to make it to the other side. If that storm was going to to stop your purpose, he would have never forced you to get in that boat. If that trouble was going to take you out, he would have never had you leave that place of blessing. The reason God sent you across the lake is because he has greater things in your future. Yes, you saw a miracle like the feeding of the 5,000. Yes, God's been good to you, he's provided, he's protected, he's made ways. You could be satisfied, but you haven't seen anything yet. God loves you too much to let you miss the fullness of what he has in store.

The disciples were out there in the middle of the storm, trying to keep the boat afloat. Here a few hours earlier they were celebrating a great victory, having the time of their lives, now they were fighting for their lives. I can hear them saying, "What was Jesus thinking? Why did he tell us to get in the boat and cross the lake? He knew there was going to be a storm". They were confused, frustrated. You're not going to understand everything God does. The scripture says, "His ways are not our ways". This is what faith is all аbout: trusting when it doesn't make sense, trusting when God takes you out of a blessed place. You come into a storm that looks like it's going to defeat you.

As the disciples were out there struggling to survive, hour after hour went by, afraid, worried, "How are we going to make it"? 3:00 in the morning, Jesus came walking on the water about to pass them by. They thought he was a ghost, and they screamed in terror. He said (Mark 6:50), "Don't be afraid, I am here, and it's going to be all right". You may be in a storm today, things have come against you: your health, your finances or relationship. You could live upset, worried, you can't sleep at night. God is saying, "It's going to be all right. I'm right there with you. I wouldn't have let you get in that storm, if you weren't going to make it through". Now, be still and know that he is God. He has not failed you in the past, he's not going to start now. When you're in peace, that's a place of power. When you trust in the trouble, you're going to feel a strength, a resilience to outlast the opposition, to overcome what's trying to stop you.

Jesus walked over and got in the boat with the disciples. It's interesting that he didn't stop this storm. He didn't speak to the waves, and the winds like he did another time. He didn't say, "Peace, be still", and everything calm down. This storm had to run its course. The disciples were headed toward Bethsaida, but the winds were so strong, it blew them to another city. Verse 53 says, "When they arrived at Gennesaret on the other side of the lake". Wasn't a mistake that the winds blew them somewhere else. Bethsaida was called a desert place, it was a barren land that wasn't desirable, wasn't fertile. But the storm blew them to Gennesaret. It was called a garden of abundance, it was a flourishing place, a paradise, the most beautiful area in Galilee.

When they arrived, the people of course they recognized Jesus. They begin to bring the sick from all the villages, all the surrounding cities. And they laid them in the streets, and in the marketplace. Jesus went through and healed them all. Even when Jesus couldn't get to them, they would come by and reach out and touch the edge of his robe, and they would be healed. The disciples were disappointed they had to leave the place where they saw Jesus multiply the food, they saw that great miracle. They didn't realize: the reason Jesus forced them into the boat, they had to cross the lake, and even go through a storm was so they could come to the land of miracles. Not just one blessing, but an abundance of blessings. They thought they were going to Bethsaida, a barren place, but notice what the storm did: it blew them to an abundant place.

If the storm is not stopping in your life, then it hasn't fulfilled its purpose. You have to trust that God is in control, that he has your best interest at heart. That those winds are not going to blow you to Bethsaida, to a barren place, they're going to blow you to Gennesaret, to an abundant place. The storm is a setup. The closed door, the delay, the person that walked away, it's moving you into something greater. And the enemy will whisper, "Well, you were blessed, but look at you now. You got forced into this storm, you're headed to a barren place, defeated, broke, lonely, overwhelmed". Don't believe those lies. He wouldn't be telling you that, if he didn't know: you were headed to Gennesaret. You wouldn't be in that storm if you weren't headed to something greater. You're going to come out to an abundant place, great favor, great health, great relationships. Not just blessed, but an abundance of blessings, something you could have never seen without being forced into the boat, leaving the comfortable place, going through the storm.

The Psalms 66:12 put it this way, "We went through the fire, through the flood, to a place of great abundance". You won't see the great abundance without going through some fires, through some floods, through some storms. Tempting to get discouraged. A man said to me last week, "Joel, I was loyal to my company. For over 30 years I gave them my very best, but they weren't loyal to me. When times got tough, they let me go". That's not a surprise to God, that's a sign that he's up to something. You got pushed out into the boat, looks like your boss is in control, the truth is he's a pawn in the hands of God. Nothing happens without God's permission.

It takes maturity to not get bitter, "Why did they treat me so badly? Why did I come down with this illness? Why did I lose that contract"? What if you knew that had to happen, so you could get to Gennesaret, a place of abundance? That the storm wasn't random, it was necessary. That the trouble was transportation, that it was moving you into the fullness of what God has in store. Yes, you may go through the fire, through the flood, through the famine, but there's one more "F" that's coming, and that's favor. The favor of God is going to defeat enemies for you. The favor of God is going to open doors you couldn't open. The favor of God is going to cause you to come through that storm to a place of great abundance.

My friend coach Tony Dungy played professional football for many years. And after a very successful career 1996 he landed his first job as a head coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He knew it was the hand of God opening that door, a dream come true. For six years everything was going great, they were winning more games, making more progress. He was feeling good about the future, when out of nowhere he was let go. They fired him. He thought, "God, I know you gave me this job, I know you opened this door, and I was being my best. I don't understand why this happened". God never closes a door unless he's going to open a bigger and better door. It may not make sense at the time, we can't see what God is up to. This is when you have to trust him. Like the disciples, we think, "God, we don't want to get in that boat and cross the lake. We want to stay here where you blessed us". What God has in store is something greater than what you have in mind. You may have seen a blessing, but he's taking you to Gennesaret, a place of an abundant blessings.

Well, coach Dungy, of course he disappointed, but he didn't get discouraged, go around sour. He knew the same God that opened the door, closed the door. The scripture talks about how God is our doorkeeper, he's in control of the doors in our life. We celebrate when he opens doors, and brings opportunity and good breaks. But in order to move us into something greater, sometimes he has to close a door. If you don't realize that God is your doorkeeper, if you don't trust him with your open and closed doors, then you'll be frustrated when your plans don't work out, upset when you get into the boat or bitter when that person walks away. I used to just thank God for my open doors, but now I've learned to thank him for my closed door. God closing a door is not only protecting you, but it's setting you up for something better.

Not long after coach Dungy was let go, he received a phone call from the Indianapolis Colts football team, asking if he would be interested in their head coaching job. He got the position, three years later they won the super bowl. He told me, "Joel, if I had not gotten fired, I would have never won it". What you could be upset аbout: the door that closed, the person that did you wrong, the trouble in your family, it's a setup. God wouldn't have allowed it if it wasn't taking you to a new level of your destiny. The storm is blowing you from a place of blessing to an abundance of blessings. The disciples were excited over Jesus multiplying the food, that one miracle, but the storm took them to where they saw many miracles. What am I saying? Don't fight the closed doors, the delays, the detours. That storm feels like it's taking you to Bethsaida, a barren place, dry place, a lonely place. But God controls the winds. You can't see it right now, but they're blowing you to an abundant place, a land of healing, a land of miracles, a land of favor.

I worked 17 years behind the scenes here at Lakewood, doing the television production. And I was blessed, beautiful wife, two beautiful children. Got to work with my father every day. We were the best of friends, travel the world together. Life was good, then my father unexpectedly went to be with the Lord. 77 years old and died from a heart attack. I didn't see that coming. Suddenly I found myself in a storm. Like the disciples, I didn't choose to get on this boat, I was forced on it. Sometimes God will close the door, and you don't have a choice. I was comfortable where I was, I didn't want to get up in front of people, I didn't know that this was in me. I thought I'd do television production the rest of my life. I was satisfied, but God knows what he put in you. There are gifts and talents that you haven't discovered yet, potential that's lying dormant.

The scripture says, "As an eagle stirs her nest, and gets the baby eaglets out", at times God will stir your nest to get you out of a comfortable place, a place where you're familiar, where you don't have to stretch, you don't have to believe and take those steps of faith. It's not going to let you get stagnant. I thought losing my father would be the darkest time of my life. And yes, I miss my father, but it was that difficulty that launched me into the brightest time of my life, into what I'm doing now. If my father were still here, I wouldn't be up here. Sometimes God has to push us into our purpose. I thought that storm would take me to Bethsaida, a barren place, discouraged, "Man, I lost my father", but God directed the winds of that storm, and they blew me to Gennesaret, a place of abundance, favor, influence. This would have never happened if I'd stayed in the shore, in the comfortable place, rejoicing over the multiplied food. That's good, but that's just a season.

Where God is taking you, you're going to have to get in the boat and go to the other side of the lake. And, yes there will be winds, waves, thoughts telling you, "You're not going to make it. It'll never be as good as it used to be. Losing that loved one, it's all downhill". No, you're not going to Bethsaida. There's been a change in your itinerary, you can't see it yet, but you're headed to Gennesaret. Those winds you thought would stop you are going to blow you to a place of abundance, where you see beauty for ashes, talent coming out that you didn't know you had, influence, favor opportunity.

And sure at times the winds look like they're too strong, the loss is too painful, the sickness too great. That child that's breaking your heart, you don't think you can make it. God is saying to you what he said to them, "I'm right here with you in this storm. It's going to be okay". You can relax, you are in good hands. God is in control of the winds of that storm. Those winds blew coach Dungy from being fired to winning the super bowl. They blew me from behind the scenes, quiet, reserved to speaking in front of people all over the world. They blew the disciples from celebrating one miracle, to seeing an abundance of miracles. You don't know where those winds are blowing you. The enemy will whisper, "You're going to Bethsaida, a barren place. You'll never meet the right person. Never get well. Never see that business restored, look at what you've been through". Just say, "No, thanks, I've had a change in my destination. There's been a route update. We're no longer going to Bethsaida, our new arrival is Gennesaret, a place of abundance, a place of great victory".

Someone walked out of your life, broke your heart. The good news is: in Gennesaret someone awesome is already waiting for you. God's already lined up that divine connection. You lost the loved one, it's painful, but when you get to Gennesaret, there are new beginnings, new doors are going to open, fresh vision. Or the sickness, the depression, seems like it's going to hinder you your whole life. You've been in this storm a long time, struggling, wondering how it's going to work out. Your time is coming. That is not how your story ends. The storm looks like it's going to stop you, but God is shifting the winds. No more Bethsaida, that barren place, that defeated place. You're about to come into victory, to abundance, to joy unspeakable, to favor you've never seen. You're going to come out of that storm and say like me, "Look what the Lord has done". Who would ever have thought I would be where I am? I believe, even right now dreams are coming back to life, and hope is rising. You're going to feel fresh wind blowing in your spirit. It's the Most High God breathing on your life.

But a key to all this happening is to trusting when you don't understand. We prayed for God to heal my father, just as much as we did to heal my mother. She's still here at 90 years young, but my father didn't get healed that way. That's when you say, "God, I trust your ways. I may not like it, but I know you're good, I know you're for me. You wouldn't have allowed this if it was going to stop my destiny".

The Book of Acts, the disciples were seeing great favor. In the upper room they saw the Holy Spirit rushing like a mighty wind, the tongues of fire, they were all filled with the spirit. They went throughout Jerusalem praying for people, the sick were healed, the lame walked. They spoke to great crowds, many people became believers. It's an amazing time of blessing and favor. But in chapter 8 it says, "A great wave of persecution arose, and all the disciples in Jerusalem fled to Judea in Samaria". It doesn't say that they decided to leave, they all agreed it was time to go somewhere else. They didn't have a choice, they were forced out. The opposition was so strong, they had to flee for their lives. Saul and his group had already killed Stephen, now he was looking for the other believers.

It's significant that God could have stopped the persecution. He could have shut down Saul, God parted the Red Sea, shut the mouths of hungry lions. He protected teenagers in a fiery furnace. But sometimes God is using the storm as transportation to move you to a new level of your destiny. I'm sure some of them thought, "What did we do wrong? We felt the rushing wind in the upper room, we saw the tongues of fire, but now we're on the run". They felt forsaken, like God had forgotten about them. But if God is closing a door, he's allowing you to be pushed out, that means he's up to something. Trust him in the trouble. Don't fight the winds of the storm. You can't override what God has purposed. Let those winds blow you to where God is taking you.

See, the disciples didn't like the storm, but it was a setup. They were forced out of Jerusalem so they went to Samaria and Judea and begin to share their faith. Had they not left Jerusalem, Christianity wouldn't have spread. They would have just kept it to the Jewish people. God had to get them out of their nest. They were satisfied in Jerusalem, but what God had in mind was much bigger. Because of that storm, that opposition, you and I are people of faith today. We're believers because they got pushed out, and it spread all over the world. You don't know what God is up to. In real time we can't see it, all we know is we're in a storm we didn't choose, persecution pushed us out, a friend walked away, the contract didn't go through, the medical report hasn't improved. God is saying, "I'm still in control. I'm still ordering your steps." it's going to turn out fine for you, everything is serving his plan.

Now, trust him when you don't understand. Trust him when it doesn't make sense, when things don't seem fair. Thoughts will whisper, "Man you're going to Bethsaida, a barren place. You're always going to be struggle, be overlooked, always deal with the sickness, always be lonely". No, what you can't see right now is those winds are blowing you to Gennesaret, to a garden of abundance, to a bountiful place, a healthy place, a fulfilled place, a victorious place. God did not bring you this far to leave you. Get your fire back, get your passion back. The best part of your life is still in front of you. That loss didn't stop your destiny. What looks like your darkest hour, like God did for me, it's going to launch you into your brightest hour. The people that walked away, they didn't stop your purpose, they had to leave so you could meet someone better, a divine connection.

The door that closed, they got pushed out of Jerusalem, it had to close so you could step into greater things. The storm feels like a setback, but really it is a set up. God is working behind the scenes, getting you in position to go places that you've never dreamed. You haven't seen, heard or imagine what God has in store for you. Now, trust his ways. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: those winds that should have defeated you, God is shifting them right now. You're about to blow into favor, healing, breakthroughs. You're going to come into an abundant place, an abundance of health, an abundance of joy, an abundance of resources, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen? Amen, I receive it as well.
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