Joel Osteen — Are You Listening?
I want to talk to you today about, "Are you listening"? Right now there are hundreds of radio frequencies in the air, hundreds of television signals all around us, yet we're not receiving any of them. The reason is we're not tuned in. If we were to get a radio tuned to that frequency, we would hear what the station was saying.
In the same way, God is constantly transmitting to us. He wants to lead us, give us insight, but too often we're not tuned to his frequency. You have to pay attention to what you're feeling down in here. God doesn't speak to us, most of the time, out loud, like you see on the movies. He speaks to us through subtle things.
You have an unrest, an uneasiness. You don't feel good about something. That's not just your nerves. That's God saying, "Go slow. Be careful. There's danger up ahead". It can be a prompting, a suggestion. All of a sudden, you have a desire to check on your child, to call a friend, to start a new class.
It's easy to think, "Oh, I don't need to do that". No, you've heard the phrase "Trust your gut". A better way to put it is trust your sensor. That's God there are times that God will give you intuition. You just know something. You can't explain it. You don't have facts to back you up. You just know that you know that you know. Don't override that. Don't talk yourself out of it. Information, helping you to know things that you wouldn't normally know.
Some people say, "That's the universe talking to you". I'd like to add two words: that's the Creator of the universe talking to you. That's your Heavenly Father. He didn't just put you on the earth and say, "Good luck. You're on your own. I hope you make it". No, he's given you a helper, a guide, a counselor. His Spirit lives in you. The question is, are you listening?
In 1999, I was eating dinner at my house one evening. My father called and asked me if I would speak for him that sunday at Lakewood. In my 36 years, I'd never ministered one time before. I didn't have any desire to be up in front of people. I liked being behind the scenes, and I said, "I'm sorry, daddy. That's just not who I am. I'm not a minister". He laughed and said, "Well, that's fine, Joel. At least I wanted to ask you".
Finish eating my dinner, something said so strongly, "Joel, you need to do it". It wasn't out loud. It was just an impression, a knowing. I can't explain it. It didn't make sense to my mind. Every voice of reasoning said, "Don't do it," but I couldn't get away from it. Called my father back, said, "I changed my mind," next sunday.
What I didn't realize is that would be the last sunday of my father's life. The next friday, he had a heart attack and went to be with the Lord. Had I not ministered that sunday, I don't know if I would have had the courage to step up and pastor the church. God knows what's best for us. He knows what you need and when you need it. He knows how to put you at the right place, at the right time. He knows where the danger is, where the good breaks are.
I could have overridden that feeling, ignored it, listened to my mind, thought, "That's crazy. I'm not getting up there". No, I've learned to trust my sensor. That's one of my strengths. I won't go against what I'm feeling down in here. In my mind it may seem impossible, all the odds are against me, I don't have the qualifications, but if I feel good about it in my heart, I'm going to move forward.
On the other hand, if there's an unrest, an uneasiness, I don't have peace, it can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I'm going to pass. Don't ignore the promptings, the impressions, the knowings. Proverbs 3 says, "Listen to God's voice in everything you do, and everywhere you go. He's the one who will keep you on the best path".
God wants to help you in your everyday life. Not just big decisions, and I wonder how much more favor we would have, how much less frustration and heartache we would see, if all through the day we would be sensitive to what we're feeling: the promptings, the suggestions, the uneasiness. At the mall, we don't feel good about that purchase. No big deal. We put it back.
At the office, we feel an unrest toward a certain person. We back away. At home, we feel a prompting to spend time with our child. We obey. At night, we hear that suggestion, "Turn off the TV. Go to bed. You need your rest". We turn it off. In the kitchen, about to eat our third piece of pecan pie, we hear the voice saying, "Don't do it". Instead of saying, "Get behind me, satan," we walk away.
Pay attention to what you're feeling. Don't ignore the impressions, the promptings. God speaks to us in a still, small voice. It's not thunder. He's not going to boom out lightning to get your attention. He's not going to flash it across your TV screen, "My son, speak for your father this sunday". It's going to be subtle.
If you're going to hear a whisper, you've got to get close. You've got to be tuned in. It's got to be a priority. You're not going to hear it by accident, with the busyness of the day, the stress of the office, running here and there. On purpose, you have to ask yourself, "What am I feeling? What am I sensing"?
Take time to get quiet. Develop this art I was at the mall one time, and I found this tie that I really liked. When I find something that I like, it doesn't take me long. I don't debate it. I don't overanalyze it. 2 hours in a store. Give us 10 minutes, and we'll find what we need. I walked up to the counter to pay, and I heard something say to me, not my mind, but my heart, "Joel, don't buy it now. Just wait".
It wasn't thunder. It wasn't lightning flashing across the sky. It was just a small uneasiness, just a slight check. If you're not tuned in, you'll ignore it, and you'll move on. In the natural, there was no reason why I shouldn't buy the tie, but I had that check, and I told Victoria, "I think I'm going to wait," and I set it down.
A couple of hours later, just before we were to leave the mall, Victoria wanted to run into one last store. I'd never shopped at this store, but I went with her. As we were passing the men's department, she said, "Joel, there's that exact tie you wanted to buy". I walked over and picked it up. It was marked down to half price. I felt real good about it then. If you will pay attention to these impressions, follow these promptings, you'll see God's goodness in your everyday life.
I pray each morning, "God, help my spiritual ears to be open and sensitive to your voice. God, help me to hear what you're saying today". It's not that God is not speaking, it's not that he's not giving us direction. It's the fact that we're not always paying attention. If we'll listen in everything we do and everywhere we go, God will lead us down the best path. He wants to give you wisdom, direction, protection, guidance that will save you heartache, give you breaks that will put you years ahead.
I have a friend that bought some property way out in the middle of nowhere. He hardly paid anything for it, less than $100 an acre. He bought several hundred acres. On the surface, it seemed like that he the land was dry and barren. You couldn't grow crops on it. You couldn't raise cattle. It was like the desert, just rocks, clay, and cactus. He would go out from time to time and check on it, and it always puzzled me as to why he bought that property.
I thought, "Surely, he must have some family up in that area". One day, we were talking, and it came up, and I asked him why he purchased it. He said, "Joel, I don't really know. I was just driving by it, and I felt drawn to it. I felt such a peace. I knew that property was supposed to be mine". I thought to myself, "The next time you feel drawn to something, you need to do your research first. You need to find some property that's going to increase in value". It didn't make sense to me.
Fifteen years later, he was notified that the state was putting in a new highway. It was going to go right through his property. They had to buy him out. He sold that for more than 100 times next time he buys property, I'm buying next door. This man is an older gentleman. He's kind of country.
A reporter from the regional newspaper was talking to him and said, "Sir, you really know how to pick a good piece of property". He said, "Yes, my father told me about this". The reporter said, "I didn't know your dad was in real estate". The man pointed up and said, "No, I'm talking about my Heavenly Father. He knows where everything is".
But how could he have of property over all the other pieces of property? Here's how. He was tuned in to the right frequency. He followed the impression on the inside. When you listen to the still, small voice, you'll come across favor, good breaks, supernatural opportunities. God will give you insight to know things that you had no way of knowing. You just feel it.
You can't explain it. You don't have facts backing you up. You don't have 20 years worth of research, but you do have the Spirit of the most high God on the inside. You have a helper, a counselor, a researcher, an advisor, a protector. He's talking.
My brother-in-law Kevin told how his washing machine had broken at his house, and Kevin's very good with his hands. He's mechanically minded. He can fix just about anything. He pulled the washing machine out to take a look at it, and he disconnected the hoses in the back, and he turned the water off there he knew he needed some more parts and was going to work on it later.
As he was about to leave the house, something said to him, not out loud, just an impression, wasn't even thinking about it. It said, "Kevin, you need to put a cap on that faucet you know, when you turn the faucet off your washing machine, you don't normally need to put a cap on it, but he heard this distinctly several different times. Kevin thought, "Oh, I'm just being overly cautious. I don't need to cap it. It's not going to hurt anything". Three hours later, he received a phone call, "Kevin, come home. There's water all over your floors: the kitchen, the den, the living room". He said, "Joel, I heard it so strongly, but I ignored it".
Friends, God wants to make your life easier. If you will listen in everything you do and everywhere you go, God can save you from bad breaks, from heartache, from difficulties. All of us can look back and say like Kevin, "I knew I was supposed to stay away from that person". "I knew I was supposed to start eating better". "I knew I was supposed to be more disciplined". We ignore it, and it ends up making our life more difficult.
One time my father was driving on the feeder. He was about to get on the freeway. He's in a big hurry going 20 miles an hour over the speed limit. As he approached a curve, something said to him, there's a policeman around the corner". He heard it very clearly, but he ignored it. He got around the corner, and sure enough there was a police officer, had his radar gun out, pulled my father over to give him a ticket.
When the officer came up to the window, my dad had a big smile on his face. He said, "Officer, you're not going to believe this, but God told me you were here". That policeman looked at my dad like he he took his driver's license, and he came back in a few minutes. He said, "Listen here, preacher. I'm going to let you go. But the next time God speaks to you, you better listen".
A friend of ours was a methodist minister for many years and very popular on television. He had this long southern drawl. Got pulled over by policeman. He said, "Oh, officer, don't give me a ticket. Old preacher". The officer said, "I know that. I heard you last sunday on television".
The point is don't override the alarms. When you feel uncomfortable, the uneasiness, the alarm is going off, pull back and see you may be in the middle of a conversation, and the alarm goes off. You know you're supposed to walk away. Don't ignore it. Or you're about to purchase something, you're about to make some plans, and you feel that check, that uneasiness, that alarm. That's not random. That's God talking to you.
If you'll learn to listen, God can keep you from trouble. He can keep you from danger. The scripture calls these "Promptings". In other words, God is not going to force us to do it. He's going to prompt us, and then it's up to us. "Hey, don't buy the tie". "Put a cap on it". "Slow down on the freeway". It's a suggestion, a prompting. If we don't obey it, if we just ignore it, it's going to make it more difficult on ourselves. We'll miss the blessing, the favor, the protection.