Joel Osteen — Covered By Mercy
I want to talk to you today about covered by mercy. We all make mistakes in life and do things that we know we shouldn't do, and it's easy to live guilty, in regrets, feeling like we're all washed up.
A man said ti me recently how he had gotten off-course in his business and made some poor decisions, didn't have integrity. Now it was going downhill. It started to affect his marriage. I encouraged him to pray and ask God to help turn it around, believe for favor. He said, "Joel, I couldn't do that. It's my own fault". I brought this trouble he felt like he was disqualified, he didn't deserve God's help because his performance wasn't up to par.
We can understand how God will bless us when we're good choices, it's easy to expect good things and believe for dreams to come to pass. But the beauty of mercy is even when we make mistakes, even when we go the wrong way, our performance is not perfect, God doesn't say, "Too bad. You had your chance. You're on your own". No, this is where mercy shows off. God will not only help bring you out of the trouble that you got yourself in, he'll take it one step further and help clean up the mess maybe a relationship you knew you weren't supposed to get in, you didn't feel good about it, you heard the alarm going off, but you ignored it.
Now it's a mess, causing you heartache and pain, or perhaps a job you knew you weren't supposed to take it. You didn't feel good. You had that uneasiness on the inside, but you overrode now it's a mess, and you're not fulfilled, not being treated right. God doesn't say, "I tried to tell you. Maybe next time you'll listen". No, God is not holding that against you. He has you covered. His mercy is bigger than that mistake. His mercy will help, not only turn it around, but God will help clean it up and cause something good to come out of it.
But if this is going to happen, you can't go through life guilty, condemned, beating yourself up because of past mistakes thinking, "Oh man, I knew I shouldn't have hung around those people. Now I've got this addiction. Knew I should have stayed in college. I knew I should have been faithful in my relationship. What was I thinking"? No, it takes boldness to believe that God will bless you in spite of your mistakes.
The accuser will tell you, "You can't ask God to help you, you made the mess. You went the wrong way. You were unfaithful. God's not going to listen to you. Who do you think you are"? Answer back, "A child of the forgiven, covered by mercy".
This is what Jonah did. God told him to go to the city of Nineveh and share the good news with the people, but Jonah didn't want to go. He wanted to do his own thing. He went in the opposite direction. He got on a boat headed the wrong way. They encountered everybody on board thought they were going to die.
Finally Jonah admitted, "Hey everyone, I'm the problem. I'm the one that's causing all this turmoil". They didn't say, "Oh, that's okay, Jonah, we'll let it slide. We forgive you". No, they threw him overboard. They weren't about to go down with him. Jonah thought he was done. It was his fault, he did exactly opposite of what he knew he was supposed to do. He was treading water in the middle of the ocean, dark, in a storm, looked like it was over.
He was getting exactly what he deserved. But God said, "Jonah, you can run the other way, but you can't outrun my mercy. It's from everlasting to everlasting. Wherever you go, I've got you covered". The psalmist put this way, if you go to the depths of the sea or way up in the sky, no matter how high or how low, you can never get away from God's mercy. He'll always be there waiting for you, calling your name, giving you another chance, ready to help, ready to clean up the mess you've made.
He's got you covered Jonah was feeling guilty, thinking that he was finished, the situation looked impossible, no way it was ever going to turn out good but God has a way, even your situation may seem like it could never turn out right. You made the mess, now it's complicated, other people are involved. The odds are against you. Be encouraged. God already has the solution. He already knows how to not just bring you out, but how to clean up the mess and bring you out better.
All of a sudden, this big fish came and swallowed Jonah. Now he's sitting in the belly of this fish and he's in one sense glad that he isn't still alive, thankful that he didn't drown. In another sense he's thinking, "I wish I would have died. It stinks in here. It can't see anything. I'm trapped. There's no way out". But sitting in the belly of that fish thoughts telling him, "Jonah, you deserved it. It's your own fault. Too bad".
Instead of listening to the accusing voices, the scripture says Jonah began to pray from inside the fish. He didn't say, "God, I am so undeserving. I've made such a mess. God, just help me no, he said, "I cried unto the Lord in my trouble and he answered me". That was a statement of faith. He was still in the fish, still in trouble, yet he's declaring, "God has answered me".
He went on to say, "I sank down to the depths of the ocean, death was near but when I lost all hope, I turned my thoughts towards you, o Lord, for you snatched me from the jaws of death". Now I will fulfill my vow. I know salvation and deliverance comes notice how much of his prayer was in the past tense like it had already happened.
Jonah had this attitude, "God, I believe you'll not only rescue me, but you'll help clean up this mess, that you'll bless me in spite of my mistakes, that I will still fulfill my destiny".
That takes boldness to ask for God's blessings in spite because most of the time, we just live guilty, condemned, we have no passion, but when you have the boldness to say, "God, I don't deserve it. I went the wrong way, but, God, I still believe you'll bless me. I still believe you'll show me favor. I still believe I can become when you do that", God doesn't say, "Who do you think you are? You know what you did wrong. You should be grateful to even be alive".
No, God will do for you what he did for Jonah. As soon as Jonah got through praying the scripture says, God caused the fish to spit him up on to dry ground on to that beach. Friends, God controls the whole universe. God can cause whatever's holding you back right now, the dysfunction, the addiction, the sickness, the legal problem, God can cause it, in a split second, to set you free, to release its hold. God is in control even of our enemies.
When Jonah came out of this whale, washed himself off thrilled to be alive, he knew it was the mercy of God, and that could have been the end of the story, that would be great. God rescued him, saved him from trouble, but God doesn't want to just bring you out. If you'll have the right attitude and shake off the guilt, get your passion back, God will give you another chance to get to where you're supposed to be.
That mistake did not disqualify you. You didn't miss your destiny the scripture says, "The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time". What did God say? "Jonah, I want you to go to Nineveh". The same thing he said the first time. In other words, God didn't say, "Jonah, I asked you to do this wore me out. I had to get up off the throne, go find that fish. Jonah, you just sit on the sidelines. I'm going to find somebody else".
No, God will always give you another chance and another chance and another chance to fulfill the best plan it is not too late to become if you will start where you are honoring God, being your best, serving others, the right doors will open. The right people will show up. God knows how to make up for lost time. He can get you to where he wants you to be.
The second time God asked, Jonah went to the city of Nineveh. He obeyed, and he saw God do amazing things. The point is Jonah made a wrong turn, but that did not stop his destiny. God said, "Jonah, you had a detour, but that's okay, I've got you covered. My mercy is bigger than that mistake. I still want you to go to Nineveh. I still want you to fulfill my best plan for your life".
Maybe like Jonah, you've made some mistakes, taken some wrong turns. It's easy to sit on the sidelines of life and think, "Oh Joel, I can't expect God to bless me. You don't know what I've done. Blew my marriage, got these addictions, failed in business, made a lot of poor choices". No, you are no different than Jonah. You can either sit there on the beach, so to speak, and just be glad you're alive, or you can rise up like he I don't deserve it, but I know salvation and deliverance comes from you. Lord, I believe that you can turn this mess around and still help me become who you created me to be".
If you'll have an attitude like that, the word of the Lord will come to you a second time. God will give you another chance, and you may be in the middle of a mess right now, it was your fault, no excuse, you don't see anything good in your future. But be encouraged, God has you covered. He's saying to you what he said to Jonah, "I still want you to accomplish your dreams. I still want you to have a great marriage. I still want you to live happy, healthy, and whole. I still have a destiny for you to fulfill".
We can all look back in life and see times where we made the mess but God cleaned it up. We lost our temper and said some things that got us into trouble. We should have lost our job, but God showed us mercy, cleaned up the mess, we still have it today. Or we were unfaithful in a relationship, we should have lost our marriage. We made the mess, but God showed us mercy, cleaned it up. Today, we're restored with a healthy, happy family.
A lot of times when people see us blessed and enjoying life, they think it's because we did everything right. We didn't make any mistakes, but the truth is there were times we made a wrong turn like Jonah but God caused it to turn out right. We got involved with the wrong people. We said the wrong things but God caused it to all work together for our good.
There were some mountains we knew we weren't supposed to climb but the opportunity looked so good we did it anyway. We got halfway up and realized, "This is not what I thought it should be. I can thank God that he brought me off of mountains that I was never supposed to be on in the first place". He could have left us there and said, "Hey, learn your lesson, maybe next time".
No, the good news is we've one time this business opportunity came along and it was so appealing to me, I didn't have to pray about it, I didn't have to think twice, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue. It took about 6 months to come together. On several occasions, there were these small signs that something wasn't right. I could feel that uneasiness saying, "Joel, don't do it. It's not what it seems". I didn't pay any attention. I wanted it so badly, I pushed through it. But it never took off like we thought.
There were some circumstances we didn't realize that would limit it. We had a lot invested and we struggled and struggled, tried to make it work but it was like we were always pushing it uphill. When I look back, I can see how God tried to warn me, tried to get my attention. I could feel that unrest but I didn't listen. God could have said, "Joel, well, maybe next time you will listen. Too bad for you". No, God is not holding that against us.
If God only gave us what we deserved, none of us would one day out of the blue we got word that this man was interested in purchasing it. The expert said it would never happen. He wasn't the right type of buyer. He wasn't even in the same field, but against all odds, he not only purchased it, but he paid almost twice what we were told we could sell it for.
That's the mercy of God cleaning up the mess. God doesn't give us what we deserve. We deserve judgment, but God gives us mercy. He knows how to make miracles out of our mistakes. The accusing voices will tell you, "Man, you are done. It was four fault. You knew not to do it in the first place. You pursued the wrong dream, now look at you, you're over your head. You can't make ends meet. Just deal with it". No, God is so merciful, he'll take your wrong, and he'll make it right. It may have been your fault, you could easily live guilty. No, you got to shake that off, God's mercy is bigger than that mistake. He knows how to make a miracle out of that mess.