Joel Osteen - Activate Faith, Not Fear
God bless you. It's a joy to come into your homes. If you're ever in the Houston area please stop by and be a part of one of our services. I promise you we'll make you feel right at home. But thank you so much for tuning in today. Thank you again for coming out. I like to start with something funny. I heard about this middle-aged woman. She had a heart attack. On the operating table she asked God if this was it. God said, "No, you have 40 more years". Upon recovery, she decided to stay in the hospital and have a facelift, tummy tuck, liposuction: an extreme makeover. Two months later as she was leaving the hospital she was hit by a car and killed. She got to heaven and said, "God, I thought you said I had 40 more years"? God said, "I'm sorry. I didn't recognize you".
Hold up your Bible. Say it like you mean it. This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I have what it says I have. I can do what it says I can do. Today I will be taught the Word of God. I boldly confess: my mind is alert. My heart is receptive. I will never be the same. In Jesus' name. God bless you.
I want to talk to you today about Activating Faith and Not Fear. All through the day we have the choice to believe that either God is in control and good things are in store or we can go around worried, negative, expecting the worst. I hear people say, "I'm afraid I'm going to get laid off". "I'm afraid my marriage is not going to last". "I'm afraid my children are going to get into trouble". They don't realize it but they're activating fear instead of faith.
Fear and faith have something in common. They both ask us to believe something is going to happen that we cannot see. Fear says, "That pain in your side is the same thing your grandmother died from. It's going to be the end of you". Faith says, "That pain is not permanent. It's only temporary". Fear says, "Business is slow. You're going to go under". Faith says, "God is supplying all of my needs". Fear says, "You've been through so much. You're never going to really be happy again". Faith says, "My best days are still out in front of me".
Here's the key: whatever you meditate on is what's going to take root. If you dwell on that fear all day, you let it play again and again in your mind, then you give it a right to become a reality. That's what job said, "The thing I feared came upon me". Fear is using your faith in the wrong direction. Your faith will work in the negative just as well as it will the positive.
I was at the doctor's office with our daughter Alexandra one time. As the doctor was examining her, he began to talk about how bad the flu season was and how he gets it every year. I said, "Doctor, do you really get it every year"? He said, "Yeah, Joel. It's just automatic with me. Something about my immune system". He was so convinced, he was expecting it. Six weeks later we were scheduled to go back for Alexandra's checkup. His office called and said, "Don't come today. The doctor is out with the flu". I thought, "His faith is working. He got just what he was believing for". The problem is he was using it in the wrong direction. Just as faith can bring in good things, fear can bring in negative things.
When you go around worried, expecting the worst, it's like you're inviting that into your life. "Well, I'm afraid I'm going to get the flu". You just invited the flu. "I'm afraid I might get laid off". You just invited a layoff. No, turn it around. Quit inviting defeat, sickness, bad breaks and start inviting victory into your life. Use your faith in the right direction.
Years ago I was facing a situation that had the potential to turn out badly. It had gone on for months and months. Every morning when I woke up the first thought that came to my mind is, "It's not going to work out. It's going to cause you all kinds of heartache and pain". That's the way fear is. It will try to dominate your thought life. If you allow it, fear will keep you awake at night. I was so tempted to be worried and stressed out.
One day I heard God say something to me, not out loud, but just an impression down in here. He said, "Joel, if you keep worrying and going over all the reasons why it's not going to work out, then because of your worry, it's going to come to pass. But if you will trust me and use that same energy to believe, I will turn it around and use it to your advantage". When I heard that I gained a new perspective. I realized that fear, worry, negative thinking, is not just a bad habit. That allows the negative to become a reality.
I read an article in the paper a while back about a 24-year-old marine. He was about to report to his second tour of duty in Iraq. Before he left he told his family and friends this would be his last tour. He would not make it out. His family, friends, they tried to encourage him. "Don't say that. Yes, you're going to make it out". He said, "No. I feel it so strongly. This is going to be the end". Before he left he wrote farewell letters to his wife and two children telling them goodbye. He was not only convinced in his thinking but he acted on that fear. Three months later, while he was on a mission, just like he thought, he hit a landmine and lost his life. The thing he feared came upon him.
But I wonder what would have happened if he would have replaced that fear with faith. What if he would have gone around saying, "Father, thank you that no weapon formed against me will prosper. Lord, you promised your angels would watch over me and keep me from dashing my foot against a stone". I don't know, maybe he would still be here. But I know this: when you agree with fear you are giving what you're fearing the right to come to pass.
The scripture talks about how when any two of us agree, it shall be done. That's a promise that when we stand in faith with another believer, God will do what he said. Well, I believe that principle is true even in the negative. When the enemy puts a thought in your mind, if you agree, then your agreement is what gives it the power to come to pass. But if you don't agree, you turn it around. The thought says, "Your children are going to get into trouble". "No, I don't agree. My children will be mighty in the land. My children will fulfill their destiny". You've just stopped that fear from coming to pass. The thought says, "You'd better not go out today. You're going to have an accident". "No, I don't agree. God has a hedge of protection around me: a bloodline that the enemy cannot cross". "Well, that sickness is going to be what you die from. It's been in your family line for three generations". "No thanks. I don't agree. With long life God is going to satisfy me".
Here's the key: don't come into agreement with the fear. If you don't agree the only way it can come to pass is if God gives it the permission. And if God does, you can rest assured it's not going to work against you. It's going to work for you. Now pay attention to what you're coming into agreement with.
When our son Jonathan was a little baby I was holding him at a restaurant. While we were eating this older couple came up and started complimenting us on how good Jonathan was and how quiet he was being. But just before they left the man turned around and said, "But you just wait till he gets to be about two years old. He'll turn into a different person. He's good now but the terrible two's are coming". I wanted to say, "Thank you so much for your encouragement and lifting my spirits". I told Victoria, "I don't receive that. I don't agree with that. I am not letting that take root into my spirit". I said, "For us it's not going to be the terrible two's. It's going to be the terrific two's".
Do you know we never had a problem when he was two, three, four. He got to be about ten, people started saying, "Just wait till he gets to be a teenager". "You talking about a headache, trouble, hard to get along with. You just wait". Jonathan is almost eighteen years old now. Our daughter Alexandra is fourteen. Do you know they still haven't started cursing, lying, stealing, fighting. Still haven't caused us any problems.
Next thing people say, "You just wait till he gets to be 21. Wait till he's legal, Joel. Wait till he hits 40, that mid-life crisis". "Wait till he's 75". No, I am not coming into agreement with fear and doubt and bad breaks, disappointments. I'm activating my faith and not my fear. If you expect your children, your loved ones, to get into trouble, to cause you heartache and to barely make it through life, then because you're putting faith into fear that allows it to come to pass. You're believing it in.
It's like this lady I heard about. Every night, for years and years practically, she thought she heard a burglar downstairs in her kitchen. She would make her husband get up at least once a week and go make sure everything was okay. One night she thought she heard some noise. "Honey, wake up. Somebody's down in our kitchen". He got up so routinely like he had done a thousand times before. This time when he walked downstairs he was staring down the barrel of a gun. His eyes got so big. The burglar said, "Don't make a sound. Just give me all your valuables". He gathered up the valuables and gave them to the burglar.
The burglar turned around and was about to run off. He said, "Wait a minute. You can't go yet. You've got to come up and meet my wife". "She's been expecting you for 30 years". Friends, don't go through life expecting disappointments, bad breaks, disasters. That's putting faith into fear. That allows it to become a reality. Ii Timothy...That was good wasn't it. Ii Timothy 1:7 says, "God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind". The Amplified says, "A disciplined mind". In other words, we're not going to overcome fear and live a powerful victorious life if we're not disciplined in our thought life. That's where the main battle is taking place. Your mind is the bull's-eye of the enemy's target. If he can control your thoughts he can control your whole life. If you don't guard your mind it will default back to these thoughts of fear, worry, anxiety, negativity.
Last week, a mother asked me to pray for her son. She said, "Joel, I'm so worried. I'm afraid he's going to get into trouble. I'm afraid he is going to start running with the wrong crowd". On and on. I said, "Is he off-course now"? She said, "No, he's a great kid, straight a student, loving and kind. I'm just afraid it's not going to last". I told her what I'm telling you. Don't come into agreement with that fear. It says in Psalms, "God's favor is not for a season but for a lifetime". When those thoughts try to tell you, "It's not going to last. It's too good to be true". No, turn it around. "Father, I want to thank you that your favor on my life, on my children, on my career, on my future, it's not temporary. It's not seasonal. It doesn't come and go. But God, your favor is for a lifetime".
You've got to be disciplined in your thought life. Your thoughts are extremely powerful. I heard about this lady that bought a six foot plant for her bedroom. It was a ficus tree. She had plants all over the house. She was very experienced with plants. One morning she woke up, looked at that plant, out of the blue this thought said, "This plant is not going to make it. It's going to die". It was as healthy as can be. Nothing wrong with it. There was no reason to believe that thought but she made the mistake of thinking of it over and over. She even told her husband, "I'm afraid this plant is not going to make it. I'm afraid I wasted my money". He said, "Why would you say that? It's perfectly healthy. All your other plants are doing just fine". She said, "No, something just tells me it's not going to make it".
About three weeks later she noticed the leaves were starting to turn yellow. A couple of days later all of the leaves had fallen off of it. A week or two later the whole plant had totally withered up and died. It was amazing to her. One day she was praying. She said she heard God say something to her right down in here. He said, "You killed that plant with your thoughts". It sent chill bumps up and down her spine. When we agree with the fear it can come to pass. Later she told her husband, "I know this sounds totally crazy but I think I killed the plant with my thoughts". He looked at her very strangely. He said, "All I can say is I hope you're thinking good thoughts about me".
But I wonder how many times have we killed our dreams with our thoughts? How many times have we stopped God's blessings, favor, healing, restoration, because we're dwelling on the fear? A lot of people, like this lady, go around with a nagging feeling that something is not going to work out. "I'm afraid my business is going to dry up. I'm afraid I'm not going to stay healthy. I'm afraid my child is going to get off course". Because they're not disciplined in their thought life they allow that fear to take root.
On my father's side of the family there is a long line of heart disease, high blood pressure, hypertension. That's what my father died from and his father as well as others in our family. It would be easy for me to let that take root. Think, "Hey, man. That's just my lot in life. I'm afraid I'll probably get heart disease too". No, I've learned to be disciplined. I'm not going to activate fear. I'm going to activate faith. "Father, I want to thank you that heart disease, high blood pressure stops with me. I will live out all of my days in good health". See, don't agree with the fear. Agree with what God says about you.
My grandmother on daddy's side of the family was a very feisty woman. She reminded me of granny on the beverly hillbillies. She was one of a kind. Later in life she went to the doctor. He said, "I'm sorry to inform you, Ms. Osteen, but you have the very beginning stages of Parkinson's disease". Well, that did not set well with grandmother Osteen. She didn't even know what Parkinson's disease was but she knew enough to know she didn't want to have anything to do with it. She bristled back, stood up tall-she was way less than five feet. She said, "Listen here, doctor. I'll not have it. I refuse to have it. I'm too old to have it".
My grandmother went home and do you know she never had any symptoms of Parkinson's disease? She lived out her days in good health. And I know we can't just wish things away but I also know when you choose faith instead of fear it activates God's power. That's what allows God to turn things around.
I talked to a young couple after the service. They were very discouraged. They had been trying to have a baby for many years. For some reason the young lady couldn't conceive. They had been to several doctors and everything seemed fine. They couldn't understand why she couldn't get pregnant. She was very frustrated. She said, "Joel, the funny thing is my mother had a terrible time conceiving. My grandmother had the same problem. Ever since I've been a little girl I've been afraid that I wouldn't be able to have a baby".
Like the scripture says, the thing she feared came upon her. It had created a stronghold in her mind. She didn't think she could conceive. The first place we lose the battle is in our own thinking. Here's the good news. Just as you activate fear you can start activating your faith. That's what I told her. Instead of going through the day worried, thinking about how it's not going to work out. Start meditating on what God says about you, things like, "Father, you said the fruit of my womb is blessed. Lord, you said in Psalms you would make me the happy mother of children. God, you said because I delight myself in you, you would give me the desires of my heart. So Lord, I want to thank you I am able to conceive". She started activating her faith.
About a year later I saw this couple. They were beaming with joy. She was pregnant with a little boy. Today that child is happy and whole. But here's my point. I don't know if that would have happened if she had not changed what she was meditating on. Fear can create a barrier. Wrong thinking can keep you from God's best. If you're going to live in victory you've got to be disciplined in your thought life. What you dwell on is what you're inviting in. That's what you allow to become a reality.
I heard a story about a man named Nick. He was a big, strong, tough man. He had worked out in the railroad yards for many, many years. He was one of the company's most reliable employees. But Nick was a chronic worrier. He was always fearing the worst, talking about what might happen. One summer day the crew was told that they could leave an hour early to attend a birthday party of one of the foreman's. Nick was out working in one of the refrigerated boxcars when somehow he accidentally got locked inside. He didn't have a cell phone, a radio, everybody else was gone. When he realized he was trapped in that car he began to panic. He started screaming at the top of his lungs. He beat on those doors hour after hour until his fists were bloodied. He finally had his voice give out.
Nick was very aware that he was in a refrigerated boxcar. He guessed that the temperature was well below freezing. He began to fear the worst. He thought, "If I don't get out of here I could freeze to death. There's no way I can make it all night". The more he thought about it the colder he got. Shivering almost uncontrollably he found a piece of cardboard in that boxcar. He wrote a note. It said, "So cold. Body getting numb. These may be my last words". The next morning when the crew came in, opened the big steel doors, they saw Nick's body curled up over in the corner. The autopsy revealed, indeed, he had frozen to death.
Here's the amazing part of the story. The refrigeration unit in the car Nick was in that night was never even on. The temperature in that car where he froze to death was 61 degrees. Nick froze to death because he was convinced in his thinking he was in a freezing car. The thing he feared came upon him.
Let me ask you. Are you fearing freezing to death, so to speak, even though it's 61 degrees? Like that young lady, afraid you won't get pregnant even though there's really nothing wrong with you? Fear blows things out of proportion. Fear makes problems much bigger than they really are. Maybe God sent you today for a perspective change. Maybe what you're fearing is never even going to happen. Maybe that obstacle that looks permanent is really only temporary.
Perhaps like Nick, you feel trapped. Everything tells you, "You'll never get out. You'll never get ahead. You'll never get well. You'll never get married". No, God is saying, "Don't worry. The refrigeration unit is not on. I've got you in the palm of my hand. No weapon formed against you is ever going to prosper". It may feel dark and lonely like it's not going to work out. But God is saying, "If you will stay in faith I will deliver you. I will protect you. I will heal you. I will vindicate you. I will restore you. I will not only bring you out. I'll bring you out better off than you were before".
Now you've got to do your part. Don't panic. Don't fear the worst. Don't imagine every negative thing that could happen. No, say like David, Psalm 27, "The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord protects me from danger. Why should I be afraid? Though an army surrounds me, though they attack me from every side, I may feel trapped. I don't see a way out. Medical report doesn't look good. My bank statement tells me I'm not going to make it. But that's okay. I know a secret. God is still on the throne. Nothing I'm facing is a surprise to him. The enemy doesn't have the final say. God has the final say. And he says, 'i will always cause you to triumph. Now be strong and of good courage. The Lord your God is with you.'"
Friends, throughout life, fear will come knocking at the door and tell you the worst case scenario. Like that young marine, you're not going to make it out. You're not going to stay healthy. Your business is going to go down. No, here's the key. When fear knocks let faith answer the door. Don't give those thoughts of fear the time of day. Don't let them intimidate you. Answer back with faith. "Lord, you said the number of my days you would fulfill. God, you said your plans for me are for good and not evil. God, you said what's meant for my harm you would turn around and use to my advantage".
When fear knocks let faith answer the door. I was flying out of Canada one time early in the morning. Our flight was delayed for several hours because of the fog. Everywhere we looked there was this thick, dense fog. You could barely see anything. We thought the whole city was fogged in. But when we took off we looked down and noticed it was just a pocket of fog, about a one mile area surrounding the airport. This is the way fear is. Fear presents itself much bigger than it really is. It will tell you all the worst-case scenarios to try to get you worried, anxious, uptight, panicked. No, just smile and say, "Fear, I know your tricks. You're all bark and no bite. You may look big but I'm not impressed. I know the truth. There is nothing really to you". That's how you activate faith and not fear.
When you do this, the greatest force in the universe goes to work. Those problems may be big but our God is much bigger. Your obstacles may be high but we serve the Most High God. When thoughts of fear, worry, doubt, negativity come you've got to rise up. Say like David, "I will not fear. I will not worry. I will not be uptight. I will not dwell on the negative". Look that fear in the eyes, so to speak and say, "You don't intimidate me. I know who I am and I know whose I am". Remember, fear is like a fog. It will always look much bigger than it really is. You have a pain in your side. Fear will tell you, "That's permanent. That's terminal. You might as well start planning your funeral". No, the truth is you just ate too much pizza the night before.
It's no big deal but fear will exaggerate it, tell you, "What if your company starts laying people off? You'd better worry. What if that pain is serious"? No, you need to look at fear and say, "Get lost. Hit the road. I don't have time for you". Friends, your destiny is too great, your assignment too important, your time too valuable. Don't let fear intimidate you. You are a child of the Most High God. Dare to say like David, "I will not fear". Think of this. If the things we fear can come upon us, as the scripture says, how much more can the things we have faith for come upon us? God's power is so much greater than the enemy's power. When fear knocks let faith answer the door. Don't come into agreement with fear. Stay disciplined in your thought life. This is the reason many people are down, discouraged, negative. They're not guarding their mind. That's where the real battle is taking place.
If you'll learn to activate faith and not fear then I believe and declare, just like that young couple that had a baby, God is going to bring your dreams to pass. He is going to pour out floods of his favor. You will overcome every obstacle, defeat every enemy and become everything God has created you to be. In Jesus' name. If you receive it can you say, "Amen" today?