Joel Osteen — Be Selective In What You Feed Yourself
I want to talk to you today about being selective with what you feed yourself. Our ears and our eyes are the gates to our soul. What we watch, what we listen to, who we associate with, that's constantly feeding us. You've heard the saying, "You are what you eat". If you eat junk food all the time, twinkies, sodas, candy bars, you're not going to be very healthy, why? You're feeding yourself the wrong things.
In the same way, if you're watching things that are unwholesome, listening to things that are around people that gossip, then because you're feeding your inner man junk food, you're not going to be as strong and become all that God's created you to be. You have to be extremely careful as to what you take in.
Today more than ever, we have opportunity to feed on wrong things. There are over 500 channels on television, we have the internet, smart phones, magazines, billboards, every place we turn, there's information it's not all bad, there's nothing wrong with being entertained, but you have to stay on guard. With the good, wholesome entertainment comes a bunch of trash.
People airing out their dirty laundry, showing you all the conflict, the backstabbing, the jealousy, the dysfunction. The shock value keeps getting turned up higher and higher. What we thought was far out and bizarre 20 years ago is no big deal now, it's just totally normal. That shock value, yes, it can get your attention, yes, it can be entertaining in a your mind with trash, it's also poisoning your spirit.
If you put trash in, you're going to get trash out. If you're watching programs where people are constantly compromising, being unfaithful in relationships, don't be surprised if you find yourself in that situation. If you're watching people being dishonest, stabbing people in the back, doing whatever they can to get ahead, that's all going in to your subconscious mind. Little by little, it's becoming more and more acceptable. What's happening is, it's desensitizing you.
The shock before long, you might think, "Hey, that's really no big deal". A few years ago, a young man walked into his high school and shot and killed three of his classmates. He was a model student, from a well-to-do family. The authorities were puzzled, they asked him, "How could you kill so easily"? He said, "It's no big deal, I kill every day". He was talking about the video games he had been playing for years. He had become desensitized to killing. He'd watched it on the screen happen so long that the line between make believe and reality had become blurred.
The scripture says don't give the enemy a foothold. Notice, he can't take it, we have to open the door, and one of the biggest doors we open is through our eyes, watching things proverbs 15 says, "Only a fool feeds on trash".
Friends, you're going to become what you eat. Take inventory of what are you watching, what are you listening to, what kind of values is that portraying? Is it building you up, is it wholesome, inspiring you to be better? If not, make the necessary changes. Don't feed on trash.
When you watch something on television, you watch a movie, it's just like you're inviting those people into your house. You need to ask yourself, "Do I want them in my home? Do I want to hear all their secrets, do I want to see all their dirty laundry"? Some of what's on TV today is to appeal to the lowest common denominator. People fighting with family members, all kinds of bizarre situations, it's kind of like a wreck out on the freeway where everybody wants to stop that bar keeps getting set lower and lower.
Do yourself a favor, stay far away from that, no matter how off I was at a grocery store a few months ago, and at the checkout line, and one of the magazine headlines read, "Two-headed man in a love triangle with an alien from outer space, details inside". I thought, "No thanks, I am not a garbage can. I'm not going to fill my mind with poison, only a fool feeds on trash".
Listen, life is too short, your time is too valuable to feed on anything other. Psalm 119 says, "God, keep me from paying attention to what's worthless". We turn on the television, we should pray that prayer, "God, keep me from what's worthless". Every time we get on the internet, walk by the magazine rack, "God, help me not to waste my time getting hooked on something that's not adding any value to my life".
Here's what I've learned, if you're not selective in what you watch, the television will determine your character, the television will determine who you are. Statistics tell us the average person will spend more time watching television than anything else other than working and sleeping. When it's all added up, ten years of our life will have been spent watching TV. By the time a child graduates from high school, he will have watched 18,000 hours of television compared to 12,000 hours spent in school.
Parents, don't let the television be a babysitter for your children. Don't put your 5 year old in there and let them watch whatever they want, you choose something wholesome, something that's going to strengthen their values, not something that will erode what you're teaching them. I read where the number of violent acts during primetime is 12 per hour. The number of violent acts during cartoons is 42 per hour. If you plant your children in front of the television, they may grow into something that you don't like.
Very often, television glamorizes the wrong things. Most marriages portrayed loyal, faithful. "TV guide" said 91% of intimacy shown on television is outside of marriage. Nine times out of ten, what's glamorized is the affair, that's the fun, that's the passion, being unfaithful, running around, you only live once.
If you watch it's going to chip away at what you know is right. If you're not careful, it'll cause you to lower your standard and think, "Hey, everybody else is doing it". That's television determining your character, be selective. When something comes on that you know is not good, be disciplined to change the channel. That's why God created the remote control, you don't even have to get up, just push the button, switch on by. If not, you're feeding the flesh, and anytime you feed the flesh, it's going to lead you away from God's best.
The scripture says, "It is the thought life that pollutes us". If we watch the wrong images, the wrong thoughts will follow, and before long, you'll find yourself in temptation that could have been avoided if you'd of just been disciplined in what you watched.
Now, I like to watch television, especially sports, but I've learned sometimes, when a questionable commercial comes on, even during the ballgame, I got to switch off for 30 seconds and come back when it's over. I'm not going to let that pollute me.
The other day, I was at a hotel gym working out, and every TV in this little gym was tuned in to the making of the "Sports illustrated swimsuit edition". I asked the young man working there would he please switch it over to the football game. I know he probably thought I'm stiff, old-fashioned, strange, but you got to come to the point where you realize your destiny is too great, your assignment too important, your future is too bright to let something pollute your life.
We have enough to overcome that we can't get away from, let's not make it harder by putting unwholesome things in. "It's not hurting me, I'm strong, it's just entertainment". Yes, it may be entertaining you, but it's filling you with all kinds of wrong values, and sooner or later, if you put trash in, somehow, someway, the trash is going to come out.
Years ago, there was a very where every other word was a curse word and had to be bleeped out. It was the furthest thing from wholesome and uplifting that you could possibly find, and this person I knew, he was hooked, he loved watching it, and he was trying to convince me why it was okay. He said, "Joel, if you can just get past all the cursing, and past all the cheating, and past all the dysfunction, you'll find that really they're a loving, caring family," and I don't even doubt that that's true, but here's the point I'm making.
You could go out to the garbage dumpster today, and if you dig around long enough, you could probably find a little piece of a biscuit that's halfway edible, but you know as well as I do, it's not worth digging in the trash trying to find one little you're better than that. You are a temple of the most high God, called, chosen, appointed, approved, now do your best to keep your temple pure.
When I was younger, I had a sports car that I loved so much. I took great care of it, it was a performance car. It had a big engine, and I would wash that car practically every other day, and I would only put every three months, I would change the oil, whether it needed it or not, and I put the high-performance oil in it, not regular oil, but this oil cost about twice as much as regular oil. Back then, if you wanted to, you could put regular gasoline, but I always put the highest-octane gasoline. I wanted that car to perform at the highest possible level.
Well, that's the way you need to see yourself. You are a high-performance, extremely valuable, incredibly talented, uniquely-gifted person. How much better will you run, how much faster will you go, how much fuller will your life be if you will be selective as to what you put into your engine? Sure, you can get by with watching things that are questionable, and listening to things that drag you down, and hanging around people that erode your values, your car will run, but I'm talking about reaching your highest potential. I'm talking about becoming everything that God's created you to be. When we put the right things in, not only that, how many problems will we avoid, how much temptation will we not have to deal with?
This is where David missed it. David was a great leader, he loved God, he wrote beautiful psalms, but David let his guard down and wasn't disciplined in what he watched. One night, he was on the top of his house, and he looked out and saw a beautiful woman taking a bath. All David had to do, in modern-day terms, was change the channel, turn away, don't even go there. God will always give you a chance. You will never be tempted beyond what you can handle.
The scripture says, "God will make a way of escape," and on the inside you'll hear an alarm going off, you'll feel an unrest, a little voice telling you, "This is not good, change the channel. Don't hang out with these people, get out of this environment". We will never make a mistake without God first warning us. In fact, if you look back over your life, the bad choices you've made, most likely, you can remember again and again you heard the alarm. God was dealing with you, you knew it wasn't right, and did it anyway.
That's what David did, he ignored the warning and instead of going away, he did just the opposite, he went and got the binoculars, thought, "Wow, the favor of God, the right place, the right time". Not hardly, he had an affair, and he ended up having her husband killed. It could have all been avoided if would have been disciplined in what he watched.
The good news is, David learned from his mistake. Psalm 101, verse 3, he made a vow to God, he said, "God, I will set no evil thing before my eyes". He was saying, in effect, "God, I've blown it in the past, I've asked for your forgiveness, but God, I'm making a decision. I am not going to look at anything that's unwholesome and impure". We should all make that same vow, "God, I'm going to change the channel when I know it's not good. God, I'm going to listen to the alarm, I'm going to be sensitive, I'm going to keep my mind, my thought life, pure".
See, I've learned God's not trying to keep us from something, he's trying to get us to something. In other words, God's not just trying to make our life miserable, just be super strict, and you can't watch that, you can't hang out with them, you can't have any fun, it's just the opposite. If you will do it God's way, you will have more fun than you've ever had before. God will take you places greater than you've ever imagined. God is trying to get you to an abundant, fulfilled, amazing life.
Now, let's do our part and be selective. Our life is compared to the life of an eagle, and if you study the eagle, you'll find that its strength is found in its diet. What's interesting is the eagle will not eat anything dead. Unless he's in captivity, the eagle other birds like the buzzard, the vulture, the crow, they feed off of dead carcasses, they'll eat anything they can. Not the eagle, he doesn't take the easy way out. He flies over the stream and looks for fish, and he'll swoop down and get a fresh salmon for dinner.
The scripture tells us that we should mount up with wings, not as the buzzard, not as the vulture, not as the chicken, with wings as eagles, and just like the eagle, our strength is going to be in our diet. Our strength is going to be what we're taking in. You can't go around all day eating dead food and expect to be strong and healthy.
If you're hanging around people that gossip all the time, recognize what they're feeding you is dead. If you're watching things that are questionable and unwholesome, you're eating dead food, and yes, the eagle can survive eating with the chickens, the buzzards, the crows, but the problem is, he's never going to become all God has created him to be.
Some of you today, if you would just change your diet, you would go to a new level. If you would make the decision to quit watching the programs that are polluting your mind and causing you to compromise. With the people that are always gossiping, and keeping you stirred up, if you'd quit eating so many dead things, you would see God's favor in a greater way. You're going to become what you eat.
Maybe you've gone to lunch with the same people at work year after year, and they're negative, they complain, they talk bad about other people. You don't have to hurt their feelings, you don't have to go in there tomorrow and make some big announcement, "Man, I heard something at church, I'm getting away from you". If you do, don't tell them it was me. No, just very subtly, you need to start spending less and less time with them. Gradually start breaking away, little by little.
You are an eagle, you were never meant to feed off of dead food. If they want to be a crow, a chicken, a buzzard, that's up to them, that's their choice, but that's not who you are. Psalm 1 says, "Do not sit inactive in the path of the ungodly". If you want to be blessed, you can't sit there passively and let that gossip poison you. It's not up to God, it's up to you. He's saying find somewhere else to eat lunch.
When a program wholesome, and you feel the alarm going off, you cannot sit inactive, you've got to pick up the remote control and change the channel. God's not going to do it for you, be proactive, not inactive. Or maybe all your friends are going to see a movie and you don't feel good about it. There's an alarm going off down in here. Well, you can't just go with the flow and think, "Well, they may get upset, they may not understand, they may think I'm old fashioned".
You have to ask yourself, "Am I going to live to please people, or am I going to live to please God"? Am I going to be a buzzard and stay on the ground, or am I going to be an eagle and soar? Don't sit inactive, listen, if you're going to be an eagle, it's going to take more work, it's going to take being disciplined. Some of your friends may not understand, they may get upset, and here's what I've learned. Not everyone is willing to pay the price to be an eagle. Yes, everyone wants to soar, but not everyone is willing to deny their flesh and not feed off of dead food.
Bottom line is this, if you're going to soar with the eagles, you can't hang out with the chickens. You cannot sit inactive when you know something is not God's best, you got to be bold, rise up.