Joel Osteen — Counted by the Creator
I want to talk to you today about "Counted by the Creator". It's easy to go through life feeling disqualified because of the mistakes we've made or negative things people have spoken over us or even our own thoughts telling us what we can't become. If we're not careful, we'll come up with excuses as to why we can't accomplish our dreams, why we can't rise any higher. In effect, we're counting ourselves out.
In the scripture, the prophet Samuel came to Jesse's house to choose one of his sons as the next king. Jesse had seven of his eight sons lined up. He was so proud of them. They were strong, talented, good looking young men, and Samuel was about to choose the oldest son, Eliab. He was big, muscular, looked like he'd just stepped out of a movie, but God said to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for he is not the one. The lord doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by the outside, but God looks on the inside".
When Samuel heard this, he changed his mind. He told Jesse that it wasn't any of those sons. Well, Jesse had another son named David. He was out in the shepherds' fields taking care of the sheep, but in Jesse's mind, David didn't count. He was the youngest. David was small, not as strong, didn't have the experience. Jesse thought, "No use even bringing him in. He'll never amount to much".
But the moment Samuel saw David, he said, "That's the one. He's the next king". I'm sure Jessie and the other brothers nearly passed out, thinking, "Are you kidding? You mean it's David"? They didn't count him. But the good news is David was counted by the Creator.
God doesn't judge the way people judge. You may not have the most talent, the best looks, come from the most influential family. That's okay. You've been counted by the one who matters most. Now, my challenge is don't count yourself out. I hear people say, "I'm too small. I don't have a good personality. I come from the wrong family".
No, when God created you, he put in you everything you need to fulfill your destiny. That means if you don't have it, you don't need it. If you needed to be taller, you would be taller. If you needed more talent, you would have more talent. If you needed to be a different nationality, you would be one. You're not lacking. You didn't get short changed. You've been fearfully and wonderfully made. The Creator of the universe has equipped you, empowered you, put seeds of greatness on the inside.
He's saying, "You're one of a kind, a masterpiece. You have what it takes". He's qualified you, now don't disqualify yourself. Don't stay focused on what somebody else can do better, how your sister has more talent, your friend has a better personality. That may be true, but you're not running their race. You don't need what they have. If you needed it, God would have given it to you.
When the thoughts come telling us, "You're too tall, too short. You're too young, too old. You're not talented enough, not smart enough". Let that go in one ear and out the other. If you go through life feeling like you're lacking, you don't measure up, even though God has qualified you, you are disqualifying yourself, and sometimes it's not our own thoughts, but like with David, other people will try to discount us, make us feel less than, like we don't measure up.
This is what happened with my father. He was raised in a very poor family. They were cotton farmers. They lost everything during the great depression. At 17 years of age, my father gave his life to Christ, the first one in the family. God called him into the ministry, put a big dream in his heart. He knew one day, he was going to touch the world.
He told his parents in his late teens that he was going to leave the farm and become a minister. He thought they'd be so excited, so happy for him. But it was just the opposite. They said, "John, you're making a big mistake. We love you, but you're not going to touch the world. We're just cotton farmers. This is all we know how to do. We're not influential. We don't have any money. You better stay here and pick cotton with us".
My father knew he was destined to do something great, but they couldn't see it. They discounted him. They were saying, "John, you're not qualified. You don't have the talent, the training, the influence. You come from the wrong family".
If you allow it, people will put their limitations on you. They will try to talk you out of your dreams. One of the best things I've ever learned is people don't determine our destiny, God does. People don't set the limits for our life. They may try to talk you out of it and tell you what you can't do, and I don't think you're that talented. It's because God didn't put the dream in them, he put the dream in you.
You can't expect everyone to be for you. They can't feel what you feel. They don't see what you see. They don't have the faith that you have. They will try to discount you, tell you you don't have what it takes. Don't believe those lies. You don't need their approval. You have God's approval.
They'll discount you, but the one who matters, the one who spoke worlds into existence, the one who flung stars into space, when they count you out, he counts you in. He says, "You have what it takes. You're well able. You will fulfill your destiny. You will leave your mark on this generation". God has already counted you, now don't let other people discount you.
Luke chapter 9, Jesus had been teaching the people for most of the day. It was getting late. The sun was about to go down. Everyone was very hungry. The disciples came and said, "Jesus, you need to dismiss the people, let them go find some food". They were out in the middle of the country, nothing to eat out there. Jesus said to the disciples, "You feed them". They said, "What do you mean? We don't have anything to eat". Jesus asked what they had and all they could find was a little boy's lunch: five loaves of bread and two fish.
The scripture says there were five thousand men in attendance that day. That means there were probably fifteen thousand people in total if you counted the women and the children, and Jesus took the little boy's lunch, you know the story, he prayed over it. It multiplied and fed the thousands.
The point I want us to see is the one that wasn't counted had the miracle. They counted the men, the five thousand, but they didn't count the children. They thought, "They're too young. No need to count them". Back in those days, women were seen as second class, as less than. They didn't count the women. But God uses people that other people don't count.
One of the five thousand men could have had a lunch. One of the disciples could have brought something to eat that day, but God chose this child specifically to let us know that when people leave you out and say, "You don't have anything to offer. You're too young. You're not important. You don't count". God says, "You're a prime candidate for me to do something great. I count people that other people don't count".
Sometimes life will say, "I'm not going to count you. You've made too many mistakes. You went through that divorce. You've got that addiction". Life will try to push you down, discredit you, make you feel like there's nothing good in your future. Always remember, when life counts out, God counts you in. He uses people that other people don't count.
When my father went to be with the lord back in 1999, I knew I was supposed to step up and pastor the church, but I could hear these voices trying to discount me, saying, "He didn't have what it takes. He hasn't been to seminary. He's not qualified. He's too young. He doesn't count". But deep down, I could hear God saying, "Joel, don't worry, I've got you covered. Other people may not count you, but I count you. I know what you're capable of. I can see your potential".
When people try to discount you, write you off, the one who matters most, the great I am writes you in. He didn't create you to be average, to be ordinary, to just make it through life. He created you to excel, to leave your fingerprint, to make this world a better place. You have a destiny to fulfill. God has an assignment for you to accomplish.
You think about my father. He was the least likely one to do something great. If God were looking for a prominent pastor, surely he would find someone with the appropriate background, the training, the influence, the well-to-do family, that would make sense.
But Paul said in corinthians, "God deliberately chooses the least likely to confound the wise". He chooses the weak to outshine the strong. Out of the five thousand men listening to Jesus that day, no doubt some of them were community leaders, highly educated, respected, influential. You would have thought at least one of them would have brought an ice chest filled with sandwiches, snacks, water. They knew they were going to be out in the country all day long. But the one that had the miracle was the least likely, the little boy.
God used the weak to outshine the strong. Could it be that you're not reaching your highest potential because you feel like you're lacking in some area, you don't count? Now you're not pursuing your dreams. You're not excited about life. You need to have a new perspective. You're a prime candidate for God to show out in your life.
You may feel weak, but God wants to show himself strong. It may seem like you're the least likely. God wants to do something so amazing in your life, people around you can't even believe it, but you got to do your part and get your passion back. You have everything you need to fulfill your destiny. You may have made mistakes, but you didn't get disqualified. You may have some flaws and weaknesses, we all do, but that didn't cancel your destiny. You may feel like life has left you out, the odds are against you. The good news is God is for you.
He has the final say and he says, "I count you in when other people count you out," and you need to get ready. This is a new day. You're about to see new doors begin to open. God is about to multiply what you have. He's going to take you from the back to the front, from lack to abundance, from insignificance to great influence. You've been counted, you've been qualified, what God spoke over your life will come to pass, and those are not just nice, kind, encouraging words, that's a prophecy. If you'll receive it and say, "Yes, this is for me," then you'll begin to see it happen. God will amaze you with his goodness.
Years ago, there was a young lady that had a dream of becoming an actress. But the problem was she was very small, under five feet tall. All the experts told her she would never be successful in her field because of her height, and that could have been the end of the story. She moved on and tried something else. But this young lady understood this principle. She knew God uses people that other people don't count. She had been disqualified by the experts, but she knew she was qualified by the one who mattered most.
Against all odds, she started getting chosen for this role and another role and another role. Helen Hayes went on to become one of the greatest actresses of her time. At one point, she played the very acclaimed role of Mary Queen of Scotland who was one of the tallest queens that ever lived.
Friends, when people count you out, God count you in. In the scripture, God told Jeremiah that he was going to become a great prophet and speak to the nations. Jeremiah was young and insecure. He said, "God, I can't do that, I'm too young. I'm afraid to get up in front of people. I wouldn't know what to say". God said, "Jeremiah, say not that you're too young. Say not that you're afraid". He was saying, "Jeremiah, I wouldn't have asked you to do it if I didn't already know you had the ability".
Don't let negative voices talk you out of your dreams. If I'd gone around saying, "I can't pastor that church; man, I've never ministered before. I don't have the training. I don't have the right personality," it would have kept me from my destiny, and when you say, "I'm not that talented. I've made too many mistakes. I don't have the right personality". God says to you what he said to Jeremiah, "Zip it up. Say not I'm too short. Say not I don't have the talent. Say not I can't accomplish my dreams".
Quit discounting yourself. You have the miracle. You have the five loaves and the two fish. It may not seem like much. You may not feel qualified. The odds are against you, but this is where our God comes in. He can take the little and multiply it. You don't have to have a great gift for God to use you in a great way. You can have a little talent, a little training, a little influence, and like the little boy's lunch, God can take it and multiply it. He can open doors that you could have never opened. He can bring talent out of you that you didn't know you had. He can cause you to be at the right place at the right time, give you favor, honor, influence.
Don't go around feeling like you're at a disadvantage. Put your shoulders back, hold your head up high. The most high God has breathed life into you. He's crowned you with his favor. You have royal blood flowing through your veins. You're not at a disadvantage. Other people may have not counted you, but the one who matters, he counts you. He writes you in when other people write you off. I've learned God will never ask you to do something and then not give you the ability to do it. You may not feel like you have the confidence, the training, the talent. I didn't when I stepped up, but this is what faith is all about. You have to believe it before you see it.
I heard about this pastor. Before the service, he gave a man that he knew a $100 bill and asked him to secretly put it in his wife's bible, make sure she didn't see it. During his message, he asked this lady to stand up. He said, "Do you trust me"? She said, "Yes, I'd do". He said, "Would you do what I ask"? She said, "Yes, I will". He said, "Then please open your bible and hand me a $100 bill". She said, "Oh, I'm so sorry, I don't have $100 in there".
He said it again. "Do you trust me? "Yes, I do". "Will you do what I ask"? "Yes, I will". "Then please open your bible and hand me a $100 bill". Frustrated, she opened her bible, and much to her surprise, there was the hundred dollars. She shook her head and said, "How did it get in there"? He smiled and said, "I put it in there".
That's the way God is. He'll never ask you for something without first putting it in you. When you know, deep down you know you're supposed to take a step of faith, you may not feel like you can do it. Voices will try to discount you, tell you you're not qualified, but if you'll dare take that step, you'll discover things in you that you never knew you had.
Say not I can't do it. The right attitude: I can do all things through Christ. Say not I'm at a disadvantage. The right attitude: I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I'm a child of the most high God. Say not I've reached my limits. This is as good as it gets, Joel. No, the right attitude: my best days are still out in front of me. The path of the righteous gets brighter and brighter. I'm excited about my future.
This is what a friend of mine did. He had a dream of becoming a pastor, but he had a serious problem with stuttering. It affected his self-image to where he'd hardly look you in the eyes. At 16 years of age, his parents sent him to a very prestigious speech school. The teachers carried around stopwatches. When a student got stuck, they would time how long it would take them to get the word out. That's how they tracked their progress.
The first day my friend was at the school, he got stuck on the word "The". It took him 1 minute and 16 seconds to get it out. He had a major stuttering problem. In the natural, you would think, "You're not cut out to become a public speaker. You can do something else, but you're not going to be a pastor". He would have been one of the ones not counted. "He stutters, cross him off". But God uses people that other people don't count. When God put the dream in your heart, he gave you the ability to do it. But there will always be forces that try to keep your potential from being released.
The enemy would love for your gift to stay hidden. He would love for the best of you to never come out, and just because you have a dream, just because God has qualified you doesn't mean that you're not going to have to fight. You have to stand strong and be determined to become all you were created to be. You can't be weak, get discouraged because you had a setback, fall into self-pity.
No, you have to dig your heels in and say, "I am in it to win it. This challenge is no match for me. I am more than a conqueror. If God be for me, who dare be against me? I will fulfill my destiny".
If you don't talk to yourself the right way, negative thoughts will talk to you. Just like you can talk to yourself out of a dream, you can talk yourself into a dream. My friend, as a young man, he would get alone in his house where nobody could hear him, he would quote scriptures. Sometimes it would take five minutes to just get one scripture out. He didn't get discouraged. He would say things like, "No weapon formed against me will prosper". "Thanks be to God who always causes me to triumph".
It didn't happen overnight, but little by little, he got better and better. It amazed his teachers. Today, he can speak as clearly and fluently as can be, no stuttering, plus he's the pastor of a successful church.
What am I saying? When life counts you out, God counts you in. Don't let negative thoughts, negative people, keep you from stepping into the fullness of your destiny. There will always be voices telling you, "You're not qualified. You stutter. You've made too many mistakes. You're too short. You're not that talented". Those are all lies trying to make you feel like you don't count so that the best of you never comes out. Don't believe that. Don't fall into that trap.