Joel Osteen — Choose Faith in Spite of the Facts
I want to talk to you today аbout: Choosing faith in spite of the facts. There are times in life when the facts are not our friend. The facts will say, "You can't get well. You saw the medical report". Or "You can't accomplish your dreams. You don't have the training, the education. You don't know the right people". "You'll never break that addiction. You've had it too long".
If you just focus on the facts, they'll keep you from your destiny. The facts can talk you out of your dreams. The facts can convince you to settle for mediocrity. But I've learned that God is bigger than the facts. You may not see a way in the natural, but he's a supernatural God. He can do what medicine cannot do. He can promote you without the training. He can make rivers in a desert. He's not limited by the laws of nature, science, finance. Don't let the facts fool you. When you believe, all things are possible.
When I was in my late teens, I was driving to lunch with some friends, and we saw these two men coming out of a house, carrying a television and a stereo. They were stealing it, and we knew the people that lived there, and they were out of town, and I pulled into a convenience store and called 911. The operator said, "What's your emergency," and I was very young and nervous, and I started telling him where we were coming from and who was with me and where we were going. He said, "Sir, I don't need any of that. Just give me the facts". He said it twice very sternly, "All I want are the facts".
And in the same way, when you're believing for a problem to turn around, believing for a child to get on the right path, believing to get out of debt, in your heart, you'll hear a voice saying, "It's going to happen. God can make a way. Favor is coming. Healing is coming". You'll feel faith rising up. But in your mind, you'll hear another voice saying, "Just give me the facts. I don't want to hear all that faith stuff. I don't want to know what you're believing for, what you're hoping will happen. All I want are the facts".
In other words, what does the medical report say? How much do you have in the account? Where is your child right now? The real battle is taking place in our mind, and the scripture says, "Lean not to your own understanding".
There are times, take this in the right sense, you have to turn your mind off. Your mind will tell you all the reasons why it's not going to happen, and if you stay focused on the facts, the details, what the experts have said, before long, you'll talk yourself out of it, and I'm all for having common sense, being wise, but sometimes there is no logical solution. There is no way in the natural. This is when faith kicks in. "God, I believe you're bigger than these facts. I don't see a way, but I know you can still make a way".
But too often, we only look at things from a natural, logical point of view. "This is my financial statement. These are the numbers, joel, nothing to debate about this". "This is what the medical report says". "These are the grades my child is making in school right now". That's all true in the natural. What I'm saying is we serve a supernatural God. He is not limited by the facts. He controls the whole universe. He spoke worlds into existence. He flung stars into space, and the facts may tell you, "You'll never get out of debt," but one touch of God's favor can put you into overflow.
The facts will say, "You can't accomplish your dreams. It's been too long. You're too far behind". One touch of God's favor can put you 50 years down the road. The facts may tell you, "You'll never get well. You'll always have that addiction, always have that depression". One touch of God's favor can set you instantly free.
I had a man tell me last week how he had been filled with anger and hatred his whole life. This is all he'd ever known, and he was in his 40s. He didn't like himself. He wanted to do better, but the facts said, "This is who you are. Just deal with it". But about 2 months ago, he accidentally flipped on our broadcast. Didn't have any kind of spiritual background, but as he listened, something began to come alive on the inside. He said, "Joel, when I prayed that prayer at the end of the program, it's like I became a totally different person. All the anger and hatred instantly left me".
One touch of God's favor can override the facts. God can override what the medical report says. He can override what people are telling you you can't do. He can override what you think you're lacking. Don't let the facts keep you from your destiny. Choose faith, dare to believe. God did not put you here on planet earth to be average, to be addicted, to be overcome, to barely get by. He put you here to be victorious, to be free, to leave your mark on this generation, and the facts may say otherwise, but don't let that fool you. God is not limited by the facts, and when you believe, you tap into the most powerful force in the universe.
When Victoria and I were first married, one night, we were walking through this nice neighborhood, and there was this beautiful two-story house almost finished being built, and we walked up to look in it, and it had big windows, and high ceilings, spacious rooms. It was so beautiful, and Victoria said, "Joel, one day, we're going to live in a house just like this". She might as well have said, "Joel, one day, we're going to go to the moon".
I no more believed that. I said, "Victoria, I work for a church. I'm never going to be able to afford a house like this," and being the great man of faith that I am, I went on and on, trying to talk her out of it, telling her all the reasons why it wasn't going to happen. She wouldn't hear it. It went in one ear and out the other. She said, "No, Joel, I feel it down in my spirit. One day, it's going to happen".
Two years later, we unexpectedly sold property. God blessed us more than we could ever imagine, and we were able to move into a house just like the one that she saw. The difference was, I was focused on the facts I knew what we made, what we saved, and what it took to send kids to college, the cost of living. I had the projections, the spreadsheets, the financial data. All the facts said it would not happen in my lifetime.
Now, Victoria had the same facts, the same information, but instead of letting the facts talk her out of it, she chose to believe what God put in her heart. She wasn't denying the facts. She wasn't living in a fantasyland. She was simply saying, "It's not possible in the natural, but, God, I know you're a supernatural God. You're not limited by our income, by our position, by our background, by our circumstances. You have all power. You can get us to where you want us to be," and when you take the limits off of God, he'll amaze you with his goodness.
Don't do like I did and let the facts talk you out of God's best. You've thought long enough of all the reasons why you can't live in a nice house or why your children will never honor God, why you won't break that addiction. No, the facts may be against you, but can I tell you, God is for you? And his power is greater than any force that's trying to hold you back. His favor can thrust you to a new level. His goodness can turn you children around. His mercy can set you free from every addiction. His love can restore, rebuild, set you on a new path, give you a new beginning.
Shake off the doubt. Shake off the negative voices. If God be for you, who dare be against you? He wouldn't have put that dream in your heart if he wasn't already planning on bringing it to pass, and you don't have to figure out how it's going to happen. It may not work on paper. The odds may be against you. That's okay, that's not your job. Your job is to believe. "God, the medical report says I'm not going to get well, but you said, 'with long life you would satisfy me.'" "God, my children aren't doing right, but you said, 'as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.'" "The facts say I'll never get out of debt, but, God, you said, 'I will lend and not borrow. I am the head and not the tail.'"
If you're going to see God's best, you've got to choose faith in spite of the facts. The facts told my mother that she had a few weeks to live with terminal cancer in 1981, but my mother chose faith and she's still alive and healthy today, 81 years old. The facts said I couldn't pastor the church after my father went to be with the Lord. I had never ministered. I didn't have the training, the experience, but I chose faith in spite of the facts, and everything's worked out pretty good so far. The facts said we would never get this facility, the former compaq center, a city-owned building.
The facts said, "The city is not going to let a church have it". The odds were against us, but I've learned when God laid out the plan for your life, he didn't go check to make sure all the facts would line up so it would happen. The facts don't limit him. He's not up in the heavens, scratching his head, thinking, "Oh, I wanted Joel's mom to live a long life. I didn't know she'd have cancer at 48 years old". Or "I wanted Lakewood to have the compaq center. I didn't know that company would file a lawsuit to try to keep them from moving in".
No, God is not moved by the facts. He has ways to get you to your destiny that you've never thought of. One good break, one phone call, one idea, one divine connection can catapult you into a new level of your destiny.
I know a young man that applied for a scholarship at this major university. There were only 20 scholarships available in the field he wanted to study. Over 3,000 people applied. The odds were not in his favor. He could have thought, "There's no use even believing for this". His chances were less than 1/2 of 1%, not good at all. But instead of letting those facts talk him out of it, his attitude was, "God, the odds are against me, but I know you are for me, and if you want me in this university, I believe you can open the door and make it happen".
A few months later, he received an email saying, "Congratulations, out of the 3,000, you were one of the 20 chosen," and when you believe, it activates God's power. But if he had just sat around, thinking, "Oh, it's not going to happen. I never get any good breaks. I'm not that smart. I come from the wrong family". Then it wouldn't have happened. You have to take the limits off of God. Dare to believe. Sometimes the facts will say, "It's been too long. The dream is never going to come to pass. The problem's not going to turn around. It's too late".
This is what happened with Jesus. One time, he was walking through this town. A man came up to him, a leader in the synagogue, fell at his feet, and said, "Jesus, my little girl is so sick. Would you please come to my house and pray for her"?, and Jesus told him that he would come, but he kept getting delayed along the way, again and again. Finally, one of the man's assistants came up to the disciples that were standing behind Jesus and said, "No use bothering Jesus anymore. It's too late, the little girl has died".
The scripture says, "Jesus, overhearing, but ignoring". He heard the facts. He got the official report, "She's dead," and Jesus could have gotten discouraged and thought, "Oh, man, I blew it. I should have gotten there sooner". No, he simply ignored the negative report, and if you're going to stay in faith, you can't go through the day thinking about all the odds that are against you, how you'll never get well, how big your obstacles are. No, the facts may not look good, but you've got to do like Jesus and choose to ignore them. Choose to not dwell on them. Choose to stay in faith.
Jesus went to the house, prayed for the little girl. She came back to life. His attitude was, "The facts don't stop me. I'm bigger than the facts. When I speak, waves obey me. When I speak, blind eyes open, red seas part, the dead come back to life," and I wonder how many situations we'd see turn around, how many dreams we'd see come to pass if we would simply start ignoring the negative reports.
The facts may be against you. That's one report, but God always has another report. The medical situation may say you'll never get well, but God says, "I'm restoring health back unto you. I will heal you of your wounds".
Now, here's the big question. Whose report are you going to believe? Faith or fact. Sometimes fact is easier 'because you can see it. It makes sense. It's right before you, but the scripture says, "We walk by faith, and not by sight". The facts may say, "You're hurt, you're lonely, you've been through a breakup. Nothing good is in your future". You've heard that long enough. But there's another report that says, "God has beauty for your ashes, joy for your mourning. What was meant for your harm, he's going to use to your advantage".
Why don't you choose to believe that report? And the facts can tell you, "You're not going to get out of debt until you're 167 years old". You've calculated it. You've run all the numbers. You've got the facts, but faith says, "God's blessings are chasing you down. Your cup will run over. Whatever you touch will prosper and succeed". Like Jesus, I'm sure you've heard plenty of these negative reports.
It may not have been from other people, but even your own thinking, saying things like, "You've reached your limits. You're not that talented. You're not attractive. You're not smart enough". Start ignoring those lies. Don't give them the time of day. You wouldn't be alive unless God had something amazing in your future. He has equipped you, empowered you, and anointed you. You have everything you need to fulfill your destiny.
Now, sometimes the facts say otherwise, but Paul said in Corinthians, "The things we see are temporary". One version says, "They are subject to change". Your finances may be low today. The good news is, they are subject to change. You may be lonely, but that's subject to change. God has a divine connection, the right person coming your way. Or you may have had that addiction for 20 years, but don't believe that lie that that's the way it's always going to be. That may be the way that it's been, but that's not the end of your story. It's subject to change. In a split second, God can set you free.
The key is, don't let it become permanent in your thinking. Don't let the facts convince you that's the way it's always going to be. No, today is a new day. God is saying, "The things you've been praying about, the things you've been believing for are about to come to pass. You're about to see the breakthroughs, the healing, the favor, the promotion. The victory is headed your way".
1 Kings chapter 17, there was a widow living during a great famine. She was a single-parent mother, and all of her funds had run out. She had no food, no way to survive, and she went outside to gather up some firewood, and she was going to cook the last little bit of flour and oil that she had, and she and her son were going to eat what they thought would be their last meal.
The facts said she was done. In a great famine, no food, no income, all the odds were against her. There was a knock on the door. It was the prophet Elijah. He was a friend of the family. After he greeted them, he said, "Would you do me a big favor? I'm so hungry, would you please make me something to eat"? She said, "Elijah, I would love to, but all I have is this little bit of flour, little bit of oil. It was going to be our last meal". He said, "I understand that. Just make me something first, and you guys can eat what's leftover".
I'm sure the thought, "Reverend Elijah, I really love you, but I'm not about to give you my last meal". It seemed like he was being selfish, but Elijah knew what he was doing. It's the principle. When you put God first, he'll take care of you. All of her logic, all of her reasoning said, "Don't make him something when you're starving to death". But in spite of what her mind told her, she chose to do it, and she cooked the last bit of flour, the last little bit of oil, made him some bread. She and her son ate what was left over.
The next day, she went to those containers, expecting them to be empty, but much to her surprise, there was still some flour left, still some oil. This happened day after day, month after month. The supply never ran out. God supernaturally multiplied it.
What's interesting is God didn't stop the famine. The conditions around her were just the same. God simply blessed her in the midst of the famine, and sometimes we think that the economy has to improve for us to do better. "Joel, my job has to increase, my company, and then I can rise higher". No, God can bless you right in the middle of the famine. He can bless you in spite of what's going on around you.
Let me make it more practical. You can be in a dysfunctional situation, at work, people that don't like you, trying to hold you down. The facts say, "Too bad, just learn to live with it". No, that doesn't stop God. When it's his time to promote you, all the forces of darkness cannot hold you down. Or how about at home, a situation, parents that don't support you, or a child that's not doing right, in a bad neighborhood? The facts say, "You're stuck, good luck, just endure it". No, God can reach down in the middle of that dysfunction, in the middle of the chaos, and say, "I'm going to promote you. I'm going to increase you. I'm going to take you where you've never dreamed".
When God blesses you in the midst of the famine, then everyone around you will know his favor is on your life. See, the conditions don't have to be just right. You just have to be right. If you'll honor God, take the limits off of him, he'll prosper you even in a desert. He'll make you an example of his goodness, and the facts may say, "You'll never get out of that environment. You'll never rise out of that rut, that struggle, that lack. It's all around you. You're surrounded by mediocrity". No, the odds may be against you, but the most high God is for you. He doesn't have to change the whole environment. You need to get ready. God's going to bless you in spite of your circumstances. He's going to promote you right in the middle of famine.