Joel Osteen — Celebrate Partial Victories
I want to talk to you today about celebrating partial victories. We all have things in our life that are incomplete. A dream hasn't come to pass or a problem hasn't turned around. We've made some progress, seen a sign of God's favor, but it's still unfinished.
The mistake we make too often is we wait for the total victory to celebrate. "As soon as I get over this illness, as soon as this legal or Joel, when I break free from this addiction, then I'll celebrate".
No, the key to seeing it come to fulfillment is you have to celebrate partial victories along the way. You're not totally out of debt, but you paid off one credit card. Celebrate what God has done. You haven't lost all the weight, but you did lose 5 pounds. Celebrate that victory. You haven't received your college degree, but you did finish your first year. When you celebrate your partial victories, it gives you the strength.
I talked to an elderly lady recently, she'd had a stroke, and she was walking very slowly with a cane. I asked how she was doing. She could've complained, "I can't believe I had this stroke, barely walk anymore". Instead, she smiled real big and said, "Joel, I have to use this cane, but at least I'm walking". She was saying, "I could be at home, I'm not totally well, but I'm headed that way".
When you thank God for the partial, he'll release more healing, more strength, more favor. But sometimes, we're so focused on the completion, we miss and take for granted the small victories. Your child may not be on course yet, but he was respectful this morning, that's a partial victory. Thank God for it. You're struggling with those anxiety attacks, but you haven't had one in 3 weeks, a partial victory. "Lord, thank you that I'm getting better". Or maybe you didn't make that big sale that you worked so hard for, things fell through, but you did sell something. Don't go around complaining, "I'll never get ahead". Be grateful for your partial victories. Your time is coming. God is on the throne. If you'll pass this test of being grateful for the small, God will release big.
When Jesus needed food to feed 5,000 people, his disciples brought him 5 loaves of bread, 2 fish, said, "This is all we could find". Jesus could've looked up to the heavens and said, "Father, are you kidding? I need to feed 5,000 and this is what you've given me"? But he saw it from a different perspective. His attitude was, "I could have nothing, but father, thank you that you've blessed me thank you for the five loaves and two fish". Because he was grateful for the partial, God multiplied it and gave him more.
Are you complaining about the partial, or are you celebrating the partial? Are you so focused on how far you have to go that you're missing the small miracles along the way? Don't let the completion of what you're believing for keep your thanksgiving back.
Celebrating partial victories is what will lead in the book of Ezra, the israelites had a dream to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Was a huge task, people came from all over, and after much work, they finally finished the foundation, and the scripture says, "When they completed the foundation, they all gathered together and they blew their trumpets, clashed their cymbals".
All they had completed was the foundation, yet they had this huge celebration, this big party. They didn't have any walls up, no roof, no chairs, just a big piece of property. They could've thought, "We're never going to get the rest of the materials. We'll never be able to finish". Instead, they were celebrating that partial victory.
"Well, Joel, I don't think I'll ever break this addiction. I've had at it for 6 years". Have you made any progress in the last 6 years? Have you resisted the temptation one time? Have you attended one celebrate recovery class? Start thanking God for your small victories. You may not be totally free yet, but at least you're in church, at least you're listening. That's a partial victory.
You're not out partying with your friends, you're not out in the clubs, you're not where you used to be. Lord, thank you for where you brought me to today. Maybe you've been believing to get out of debt, but it's been a long time and you don't see how it could happen. Have you had any good breaks? Have you seen any favor, increase, promotion? Even if it's small, if you'll be grateful, thank God for the little, that's a seed you're sowing for God to bless you with more.
Moses Malone was a hall of fame basketball player that played right in this facility. He recently went to be with the Lord. At the funeral, another great player, Charles Barkley told how Moses had taken him under his wing, in fact, Charles had so much respect and admiration for Moses, he called him dad. When Charles first came into the league, Moses said, "Charles, you're overweight. You're too heavy. You're never going to be your best. I want you to lose 10 pounds".
Charles went out and worked hard and watched what he ate, came back a few weeks later, he had lost those 10 pounds, and he and Moses celebrated together. Then Moses said, "Charles, now I want you to go out". He went back, did the same thing, worked hard, came back a few weeks later, and they celebrated together. This happened six more times.
After Charles had lost 80 pounds, Moses said, "All right, now you're at your ideal weight. You're going to be a great basketball player". Charles asked him later, "Moses, why didn't you just tell me upfront you wanted me to lose 80 pounds"? He said, "I knew if I'd told you at the beginning, you would've been overwhelmed and not thought you could do it. But I knew if you took it in small increments and we celebrated along the way, I knew you'd stick with it". It's the same principle if you'll celebrate your partial victories. That's what gives you the strength, the encouragement, the determination.
In the scripture, a man by the name of Jonah made a mistake. He tried to run away from God and wouldn't do what he knew he was supposed to do. He ended up in the belly of this whale. It looked hopeless, looked like he was done. It was dark, smelly, no way out in the natural. But sitting in the belly "God, I offer unto you a sacrifice of praise with thanksgiving".
He could've been depressed, negative. Instead, he was thanking God that he was still alive. There were plenty of things to complain about, but he found the one thing that was right, and he thanked God he wasn't out, he wasn't delivered, but at least his life was spared. As he thanked God for the partial, God went to work and had that fish spit him up it's easy to complain about what's not right. "God, get me out of this fish, it stinks in here". Modern day, "God, I don't like my work, these people don't treat me right".
Complaining doesn't get God's attention. When we complain, God tunes it out. If you want God to show up and turn it around, you have to do like Jonah. Even in the tough times, find something to thank him for.
In the Book of Genesis, when God created on the first day he said, "Let there be light," and light came. There were no oceans, no skies, no animals. Everything was chaotic. It was an unfinished product. But at the end of that day, God said, "It is good". On the second day, God separated the waters from the sky. He still hadn't made there were no mountains, no sunsets. But at the end of that day, he said, "It is good". Same thing at the end of day three, day four, day five. It was incomplete, the miracle was unfinished, but five times God said, "It is good". On the sixth day, when God completed creation, this time he said, "It is very good".
If you don't learn to see the good in the unfinished, you'll never get to very good. If you're complaining about where you are, "Why am I still struggling in these areas? When is my dream ever going to come to pass"? You'll get stuck. Don't wait till it's totally complete, till you see very good until you give God thanks. Find the good along the way and thank him for the partial.
If you'll be grateful for the good, God as a young man, my father had a dream that one day, he would pastor a church with thousands of people. But for years, he was in a small feed store, a little building pastoring 90 people. He didn't complain. Like he was preaching to thousands. His attitude was, "God, I know I have more in me, but this is good. I'm content where I am," and because he was grateful for the good, God took him to very good.
He saw the completion of that dream, and sometimes we think, "Well, when I meet the right person, I'll have a good attitude. When I break the addiction, when I get the funding for my dream, then I'll give God praise". No, you have to praise him for the partial, when it's incomplete, when it looks dysfunctional. When the medical report says you're not going to get well, when your dream seems impossible, find something good and thank God for it.
The first year I started ministering, every sunday afternoon, I had a celebration. I thank God that he brought me through another sunday. Thousands of pastors speak every weekend. To them, it may have been no big deal, but for me, it was a major accomplishment. On my first year anniversary, I had a party for myself. I said, "Lord, thank you for bringing me through another year, thank you for giving me the grace, thank you that I didn't get discouraged, thank you that I didn't listen to the critics. Lord, that was good".
If nobody else will celebrate you, you need to learn to celebrate yourself. Have your own party. You don't have to tell anyone, just between you and God, thank him for his favor in your life. Thank him for where he's brought you to. Thank him for fighting your battles. If you'll keep thanking him for the good, God will take you to very good.
But sometimes, we can be so hard on ourselves, and we focus on the areas where we don't measure up and how we should be further along. But being down on yourself, negative, critical, that only makes you do worse, and we all have flaws and weaknesses, shortcomings. If you keep dwelling on those things, then it's going to hold you back. You need to focus on what you're doing right and not on what you're doing wrong.
I know a young man that was raised by a single parent mother. His dad was never around, didn't even know him, and because he didn't have any kind of father figure in his life, he didn't know what it means to be a good father. Now he is a father, but he's so hard on himself, critical, and always being negative toward himself. I told him, give yourself a break. Just the fact that you're in your children's life trying to be your best, that's a reason to celebrate. You're doing better than your father. You're setting a new standard for your family".
But a lot of people like him have had negative things passed down, bad habits they have to overcome, and generational curses that they had nothing to do with. It's easy to stay focused on weaknesses and every time you blew it. That's just going to keep you condemned. Look away from your flaws and start seeing yourself as a good parent, a good man, a good woman.
The enemy doesn't want you to celebrate yourself. He'll remind you of everything that you're not. "You're not a good parent. How could you say that? You have these flaws, you're struggling in these areas. You don't perform perfectly". Let that go in one ear and out the other. You can say, "I may not be a perfect parent, but I can celebrate the fact that at least I'm here, I'm trying, I'm responsible, I'm committed, very few people today can look in the mirror and say, "You are good".
"Well, not me, Joel. I don't perform perfectly. I got these struggles, I got these areas of weaknesses". No, when you say, "I am good," it's not it's because of whose you are. You are a child of the most high God. He handpicked you. He breathed life into you. He crowned you with his favor. He put seeds of greatness on the inside. Don't you dare go around feeling like you don't measure up, not good enough, intimidated, insecure.
Who you are is not determined by how you perform, who you are is determined by who your Heavenly Father is. You have the DNA. When you make mistakes, and we all do, when you fall down, the enemy will whisper those condemning voices, "Look at you, you're a hypocrite. God's never going to bless you". Just answer back, "I may have fallen down, but I didn't stay down. I got back up again. I'm on the right course".
The scripture says, "A good man falls seven times", don't live with that heaviness. You could be on the sidelines, depressed, defeated, bitter, but look at you, you're still in the game. You're redeemed, you're restored, you're moving forward, you're headed towards your destiny. You can feel good about who you are.
On the first day of creation, when God said, "Let there be light," there were no planets, no animals, no oceans. He knew it wasn't finished, but he still took time to celebrate. He still said, "It is good," and we all have things in our life that are not finished. Maybe you're struggling with a addiction, some kind of bad habit, not being patient, or losing your temper.
We have these weaknesses but you shouldn't go around down on yourself, "What's wrong with me? When am I ever going to do better"? You have to stop along the way and celebrate the small victories even though the whole thing is not finished. If someone were to have been watching creation, they would've said, "God, what are you talking about, 'it is good'? It's not good. It's chaotic, it's a big mess. Nothing is in order".
People may look at you and try to judge you. "What do you mean you feel good about yourself? You still have these weaknesses. You still struggle in these areas". Just tell them, "Don't worry, I'm not a finished product. You're seeing day one, day two, but day six is coming. He's going to finish".
In the meantime, hold your head up high. You may not be where you want to be, but you can thank God you're not where you used to be. You're growing, you're coming up higher. Don't get so focused on how far you have to go. Celebrate where you are. Thank God for where he brought you to.
If you're waiting for the completion, for the finished product, you're going to be waiting your whole lifetime. If you don't learn to celebrate the good in day one, in the season that you're in, you'll never get to day two, and if you're down on yourself because of weaknesses, and like my friend, you don't think you're a good enough parent, you're frustrated 'cause you're not far enough along, you're going to get stuck, and I'm not saying to ignore issues, not deal with weaknesses. I'm saying you have to find the good in right now, in the improvements you're making, and then thank God for that good.