Joel Osteen — Living At Rest
I wanna talk to you today about "Living at rest". Rest doesn't mean that you're on vacation, we all have to work and deal with challenges and interact with different people. But we're supposed to do it from a place of peace, not stressed out, worried, and fighting everything that we don't like. And Hebrews 4 tells us to enter into the rest of God. That's a place where we know God's in control. We know he's fighting our battles.
But here's the key. Once you enter this rest, you're not going to automatically stay there. Life is full of peace-stealers. There will always be people and circumstances trying to pull you out. If you're going to live in peace, you have to put up some boundaries and not allow everything in. You can't watch the news 24 hours a day and expect to stay at rest. Your mind wasn't meant to take in all the tragedies, accidents, killings, over and over. That's going to pull you out of rest.
Do yourself a favor, turn it off. Be careful what you feed your if you watch all the news about the price of oil going down and layoffs, bankruptcies, that's going to cause you to live stressed out, worried, on edge. You can't feed on negativity and discouragement and expect to stay positive and faith-filled.
I like to watch the news, of course, to know what's going on in the world. But after about 15 minutes, I've learned everything I need to know. I don't keep taking it put on some good news. Feed your inner person encouraging things that build you up and cause you to stay positive, hopeful, and inspired .
One Friday night, Victoria and I went to watch this movie about a war. It was very violent. Heads were being blown off and people being tortured and families ripped apart and I went in there in peace, simply wanting to be entertained. But when I left, I was on edge. I felt like I'd been run over that whole night, I dreamed I was in the middle of that war. Victoria kept waking me up, "Joel, you're having a nightmare. Wake up".
What we take in through our eyes and ears eventually gets into our subconscious mind. And if you're taking in all the negative, violence, discouragement, that's gonna depress your spirit. The next day, I had to get up and finish preparing my message for Saturday night and I learned my lesson. I can't take that in the night before and be my best the next day. And you need to be aware of what's pulling you out of that rest.
Sometimes, it's own our choices. If you get on social media and you're constantly comparing your life to everyone else's, that's going to discourage you. You'll never feel good about who you are, as long as you're competing with others because there'll always be somebody more beautiful, more talented, more successful. That's a peace-stealer. Put up a boundary and say, "I am not going to live in somebody else's world, obsessed with what they're doin', where they're goin', what they're eatin', what they're drivin'. I'm gonna run my own race".
Listen, you can miss your destiny, caught up in somebody else's life. Successful people are too focused on their own race to look around to see what everybody else is doing. Quit comparing it'll pull you out of your rest. I say this respectfully but some people are peace-stealers. They're high maintenance. They're always having a problem. Every time they call, they're having a major crisis and they expect you to come running to bail them out, to encourage them, to keep them they're good people, you love them, but you shouldn't allow them to continually dump their problems on you.
If you don't put up a boundary, they won't be the only one unhappy. You'll end up unhappy. And I'm all for helping people, loving them, taking time to care, but some people won't deal with their own issues as long as they can dump it on you. That's the easy way out. As long as you'll bail them out, you feel sorry for them, you let them unload their burdens, they'll do it again and again. What they're doing is they dump it all on you and then they go home and go to bed, while you stay up and worry about what are we gonna do about this.
Here's what I'm saying. It's easy to take on a false sense of responsibility where you jump every time they call, try to keep them fixed. But you are not responsible for other people's happiness. Don't let their unhappiness keep you from being happy. I don't know about you but I have enough drama in my own life, I don't need somebody else's drama. If they won't make good decisions, if they wanna live upset, bitter, offended, in a crisis mode, you can't stop that but you shouldn't let them control you and make you feel guilty if you don't help, let them call you all hours of the day. You are not a garbage can. You have to protect your peace.
Like a business, you need to have hours of operation. Times when you're open, times when you're closed. I'm open for them from 2 to 4 in the afternoon. When they call you at 8 o'clock at night, when you're in peace, spending time with your family, enjoying your children, that phone rings. Normally, you'd rush over and answer it, get all uptight. No, next time, sorry, not open for business right now.
"You mean, Joel, don't answer the phone"? Yes, that's why God created voice-mail. Don't let their crisis steal your peace. Have you noticed some people are alarmist? Everything is a major problem, a major crisis. They need you right now. Tomorrow will be too late. They have a spirit of alarm. If you don't put up a boundary, you'll get pulled in and they'll get you all stirred up stressed out. Don't fall into that trap. If you don't make them respect you, you'll be dealing with the same issue 20 years from now.
Your destiny is too important to let people who are not dealing with their own issues hold you back. Recognize that's a peace-stealer. You need to make some changes. "Well, Joel, what if I hurt their feelings"? Well, what if you miss your destiny? God didn't call you to keep everyone happy. And sure, do your part. Be a giver. Go the extra mile. But don't become a garbage dump where you allow someone to always dump their burdens on you.
You have to protect your emotional energy. You have a limited supply each day. If you're taking in all this extra drama, involved in things you should never be involved in, you're not going for what you need, for your dreams, for your children, for your assignment. I'm not saying to be selfish. I'm saying be wise. You can't fix everyone. You can't make people do what's right. You're not called to straighten everyone out. You're not the Savior. We already have a Savior.
I've learned some people don't really wanna change. They like the attention it brings to have you at their beck and call. Now, a lot of times, instead of helping them, we're really enabling their dysfunction. We're doing them a disservice. If you don't bail them out, maybe they'll start taking responsibility. If they can't reach you every 3 minutes, maybe they'll learn to encourage themselves.
Life is too short to go through it being controlled. You shouldn't spend all your time trying to straighten everybody out. Some of your relatives that are upset with each other, they're going to be upset 30 years from now. Don't waste your valuable time being upset with them. They don't wanna be happy, that's fine, but don't let them keep you from being happy. Turn it over to God and enjoy your life.
Years ago, I had a friend that I grew up with and, over time, our paths went in different directions. I joined the basketball team and he got involved in other things. And he resented the fact that I wasn't around as much. And several times, he tried to straighten me out, told me how I wasn't giving him as much time as I should and why wasn't I there for him, on and on.
And I went overboard to try to be good to him. But nothing I did was good enough. I could have moved in and been his roommate, and he'd still have found something wrong.
And one day, I realized he's counting on me to try to keep a full-time job trying to keep myself happy. And every time he'd call, I'd get uptight, on edge, what have I done wrong now? What does he need? And you know, of course, as a friend, you wanna help people. I wanted to be responsible. But after about 5 years of doing this, I learned what I'm telling you. I can't reach my destiny spending all my time trying to keep him happy. I don't have the emotional energy for all of his drama. And I say this very respectfully 'cause he's a good man but I realized he's peace-stealer.
I made up my mind I wasn't going to go the next 20 years like that. I put up some boundaries. I quit running every time he called. I quit feeling guilty when I couldn't meet his demands. Started talking about me, went his own way. But here's the point. Sometimes, you have to make hard decisions to reach your destiny. My personality type is I want everybody to like me, I'll never tell you "No," I wanna please you. But I've learned you can't fulfill your assignment, trying to please everyone. If you're trying to keep everybody around you happy, the one person who will not be happy is you.
"Well, Joel, what if they get upset and start talking about me"? They won't be the first, and they're not gonna be the last. I would rather have people upset with me than to not become who I was created to be. If you'll put these boundaries up, you'll live more peacefully, you'll be more effective, and you'll move quicker into your destiny.
But when you tell someone, "I love you but you can't call me every 3 minutes. I can't keep you cheered up. I love you but I can't keep bailing you out again and again". Really weren't your friend, they were controllers. They like you for what you can do for them, not for who you are. You don't need friends like that. Make a change and God will give you true friends.
Here's the key. If you're doing all the giving and never receiving, that's out of balance. Heard somebody say, "If you surround yourself with people that need you more than they feed you, then that's a red flag". For every happy friend you have, you are 20% more likely to be happy. If I understand this right, if you can just find five happy friends, there's a good chance you're gonna be happy.
This is what the scripture says, "If you walk with wise people, you will become wise". It's true in the negative just like the positive. Proverbs says if you hang around a gossip, you'll become a gossip. Think of it like this. For every peace-stealer you allow in your life, you are 20% more likely to live stressed, on edge, to have a crisis.
I'm asking you to find happy friends. I'm not saying you have to cut people off, never speak to them again. I am saying you should put up some boundaries. You don't have to make a big announcement. Like I did, just little by little, spend less and less time with that person. If you don't get the wrong people out of your life, you'll never meet the right ones. Especially in your inner circle, the people who are closest to you need to be stable, consistent, happy, godly, responsible people that move you towards your destiny.
Like iron sharpens iron, you make each other better. And this is the reason many who do you have in your life? What are you giving your time and energy to? Putting out fires, trying to keep someone happy, feeling guilty 'cause you can't meet their demands? That's gonna wear you out. It's time to make a change. You can't please everyone.
We see this principle with Jesus. After a long day of teaching the people and praying for them, the scripture says, "He left the crowds and went away to rest". There were still many people that needed prayer, many I'm sure some of them thought, "Wow, we traveled all this way and he didn't even wait to pray for us. He let us down". Jesus wasn't being rude. He wasn't overlooking needs. He was taking care of himself. He knew he needed to get away and get quiet so he could be refreshed and restored.
There will always be people that need you, somebody that needs rescuing, needs encouraging, needs your help. If you try to meet all the needs, you'll end up run down. Over time, even burn out. Your number one priority is to keep yourself healthy. You shouldn't be pressured into doing things that you know are gonna wear you out and, over time, even keep you from your destiny. If Jesus was willing to walk away from needs to protect his peace, to stay at rest, then we need to be willing to walk away from things that we know are stealing our peace.
In Mark chapter 4, the disciples were in a boat, on the middle of a lake, when a huge storm arose. And they were so afraid and so worried they said, "Somebody, go wake Jesus up. We're going to die". Jesus, as you know, was asleep in the hull of the boat, at rest in the middle they came in all frantic, "Jesus, Jesus, wake up. We're about to drown". He woke up, spoke to the storm, and everything calmed down.
What's interesting is these a paralyzed man, cure the leper, do all kinds of miraculous signs. You would think, since they had seen the miracles and Jesus had just told them, "Let's go to the other side of the lake," they would believe they would make it. But doubt crept in. Fear crept in. They panicked and woke Jesus up.
Like with these disciples, there will always be people that try to get us out of our rest. They may be good people, they may mean well, but they tend to focus on the negative, blow things out of proportion, see everything as a crisis. If you allow them, they'll get you all roiled up, all stirred up. You have to put your foot down and say, "No, I'm staying at rest. Don't wake me up with your worry. Don't wake me up with your fear. Don't wake me up with your doubt. I know God is still on the throne. He brought me through in the past and he'll bring me through this next time.
Now the situation in the natural may be a crisis. I mean, they were in a storm. Say, "Well, Joel, I got a bad medical report". Your business has gone down. But when you know the God who controls the universe is on your boat, the God who speaks to storms and they obey is right there with you, then you'll have a different perspective. You won't let circumstances pull you out of rest. You won't let people who are panicking and stressed out cause you to panic. You won't stay focused on the size of the problem, you'll stay focused on the size of your God.
Now, don't let your own negative thoughts wake you up from your rest. Don't let people wake you up with their worry, their doubt. Stay in peace and God will do what he promised, he'll get you to where you're supposed to be. But how we respond in the storms of life, in the difficult times, that influences how people respond around us. If Jesus would have woke up, all panicked, "Oh wow, this is really bad," those jumped overboard. "Oh boy, if he's worried, we're really worried". But because he stayed at rest, not only could he bring peace but people around him calmed down.
When you live at rest, your family will be more peaceful. When you don't get stressed out at the office when everybody else does, people around you will calm down. When you're stable, consistent, in a good mood, despite what's going on around you, like Jesus, because you have peace on the inside, you'll bring peace to the outside.
Now, don't let people wake you up with their negativity. Like at a hotel, when you don't wanna be bothered, you put the "Do not disturb" sign out on the door. Why don't you put a "Do not disturb" sign on your life? You're announcing, "I'm staying at rest. Don't wake me up with your turmoil. Don't wake me up with your drama.
Couple of years after I started ministering, I was at home in my office Saturday afternoon, finishing up my message for that weekend. Victoria and our small son, Jonathan, at that time had taken my car up to the car-wash to have it cleaned. I had a white Lexus that used to be my father's. It was given to me when my dad died and it was a beautiful car. Even though it was 6 years old, it didn't have one scratch on it. Looked brand new and I went to great lengths to make sure it stayed perfect, especially since it meant a lot to me.
Victoria took it to the same car-wash that we always drove through. It's one of those super-soft even touch the car. It just sprays it with water. Unfortunately, in the middle of the wash, the machine malfunctioned and this big metal arm came crashing down on the front bumper, then it drug it across the hood, over the windshield, over the roof, to the back of the car. It put a deep scratch about a foot wide the whole length of the car.
When Victoria got back to the me until after the Saturday night service so that I wouldn't have to think about it. She was in the garage looking at it but our son Jonathan, he was about 6 years old, he had a different plan. He got out of that car, took off running 90 miles per hour, came busting in my office, said, "Daddy, daddy, you won't believe it. Mom just totally ruined your car. I said, "Thank you, Jonathan, for being so diplomatic about it," but evidently he didn't see the "Do not disturb" sign on my door.
What am I saying? Life happens. There will be plenty of opportunities to wake up from that rest. And even though people and circumstances may bypass that "Do not disturb" sign, you have the final say. You have to dig your heels in and say, "No, I'm staying at rest. I know God's still on the throne. I am not gonna lose my peace over something I cannot change. But how many times do we let small things pull us out of that rest? We get caught in traffic, a co-worker was rude, don't let that get on the you'll never keep away all the peace-stealers. If you're waiting for them to change and traffic to change and your boss to change, you'll live stressed, worried, your whole life. They may never change. Here's the good news. You can change. You can enter into this rest. You can put that "Do not disturb" sign on. Despite what comes against you, make up your mind, you're gonna stay in peace.
One time, I couldn't find the remote control for our television at home. I had looked everywhere and went in the kitchen. Thought somebody had carried it in there. Looked under the cushions at the couch and finally I called Victoria. She said, "No, the last time it was supposed to be". And kept looking and looking. About 15 minutes later, Victoria called back and said, "I found the remote control". I said, "Good. Where is it"? She said, "In my purse with me here at target". I was the one that put it there while we were moving some furniture but I was tempted to wake up from my rest.
That "Do not disturb" sign, I found most of the time it's not for other people, it's for you. It's to remind us to stay in peace. Are you allowing things to pull you out of rest? Anyone can be peaceful when everything's going their way. The real test comes when life happens, when the remote control is at target, when the car-wash puts an extra racing stripe down your car.
When the disciples come rushing in, panicking, "We're in a storm. This is really bad," the easy thing to do is to panic with them, get all upset. Recognize what's happening. Those are peace-stealers, trying to pull you out of your rest.
This is what happened with the Israelites. God had just delivered them out of slavery. They were headed toward the life was good. Until the Pharaoh changed his mind. He and his army came chasing after them. The Israelites ended up at a dead end at the Red Sea. They had nowhere to go. Looked like they'd certainly be recaptured or maybe even killed. They began to panic, they were so afraid.
The scripture says, "They 'Moses, why did you bring us out here in the desert to die?'" Moses knew if they would have stayed upset, fearful, worried, that would have stopped God from working. He said to the people, the Lord will fight for you if you hold your peace and remain at rest". Notice, there was a condition. God will fight your battles if you'll stay at rest, if you'll quit worrying about the medical report, if you'll quit being upset over the contract you didn't get, if you'll quit being stressed by those people that talkin' about ya. If you'll remain at rest, God will fight your battles.
I'm asking you today to identify the peace-stealers in your life. What's causing you to be stressed? Are you carrying a load that you're not supposed to carry, allowing someone to dump their burdens on you, trying to be the Savior? Turn that over to God. Don't let them pull you out of rest. Are you allowing traffic, people, a grouchy boss, to upset you? They may not change but you can change. Put up this "Do not disturb" sign, not just for others, but to remind you to stay in peace.
Friends, life is too short to go through it letting peace-stealers determine our destiny. If you'll make this decision with me that you're going to live at rest, you'll not only enjoy your life more, but I believe and declare God will do for you what he did for the Israelites. He'll part Red Seas, he'll bring vindication, promotion, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus' name.