Joel Osteen — Distinctive Favor
I want to talk to you today about distinctive favor. There's something God has put on you that causes you to be different. It's a favor that makes a distinction between you and those that don't honor God.
The scripture talks about how you've been called out, set apart. You are a peculiar people. A better word, a different people. You're not ordinary, you're you've been marked with a distinction. Says in numbers that God's face will shine down on you and cause you to stand out.
This distinctive favor causes you to prosper when others are struggling. You recover from a difficulty when others get stuck. You have protection when others face calamity. There's a marked difference. You have an advantage. You're not doing life just by yourself, just your strength, your talent, your connections. There is a force breathing behind you, guiding you, protecting you, favoring you.
The most high God has set you apart. He could have chosen anyone, but he handpicked you, called you out, said, "That's one of mine". Right now, his face is shining down on you. Don't go through life thinking that you're average, you could never accomplish your dreams. Put your shoulders back. Hold your head up high. You're a part of the called out group. God has set you up for a distinctively favored life.
That means for blessings that you didn't work for, for promotion that you didn't deserve. For houses that you didn't build, the scriptures says, for vineyards that you didn't plant. It's not because of who you are. It's because of whose you are. You've been marked with favor, and when you realize this, you'll pray bold prayers. You'll dream big dreams. You'll expect things to happen for you that may not happen for others.
When others are afraid and upset and worried, you'll be at peace, knowing that you've been set apart, that there's a hedge around you that the enemy cannot cross.
When the israelites were in slavery, God told Moses to go tell pharaoh to let the people go. Pharaoh wouldn't listen. He kept refusing, and God sent plague after plague on pharaoh and his people. Their water supply was turned to blood. Millions of flies, swarms of locust ate up their crops, destroyed their land, but what's interesting is the israelites, some 2 million people, lived right next door, but these plagues never affected them.
At one point, there were hordes of frogs. Everywhere pharaoh's people looked, frogs in their homes, frogs in their food, frogs in their bed. They were so frustrated, but on the israelI's side, there were no frogs.
Life went on as usual. Pharaoh still wouldn't God was about to send swarms of flies into their houses. But in exodus chapter 8, God said to pharaoh, "I will deal differently with the land where my people live. No swarms of flies will be there. I will make a distinction between you and my people".
Millions and millions of flies came and all the houses. Flies so dense you couldn't see, couldn't eat, couldn't sleep. Their land was ruined by flies. But right next door, the israelites had no flies. I can hear them saying, "I'll let you borrow my fly swatter. We don't need it over here". Didn't make sense in the natural.
It was the hand of God putting a distinction on his people. God has put that same distinction on you. When he breathed life into you, he marked you for favor, marked you for blessing, marked you to stand out. What will defeat others won't be able to defeat you. This is why you don't have to live worried, worried about your safety, worried about your future, worried about your children, where there's so negative things in the world, so much crime and violence. It may be happening all around you, but you have an advantage. God has put a distinction on you.
The psalmist said, "A thousand may fall at my side, ten thousand at my right hand, but it will not come near me". God has a hedge of protection around you and your family. For the enemy to get to you, he has to ask God for permission.
Now, I'm not saying negative things will never happen, that's not reality. I'm saying you are protected by the one who controls it all. If God does allow it to happen, he's promised that, somehow, he will turn it and use it for your good. Pharaoh still wouldn't let the people go, and Moses told him, "There's about to be a plague on all your livestock, your horses, camels, goats, and sheeps".
But again, like the first time, the scripture says God put a distinction on the livestock of the israelites and the livestock of pharaoh's people so that not one animal of the israelites died. Notice a distinction even on your property, your house, your car, your belongings. The next day, just like God said, all of their oppressors' livestock died, to the israelites.
I'm sure some of pharaoh's people thought, "That's it, I'm going to the israeli side. These frogs, flies, locust, they're making my life miserable". Set up a temporary home, but everywhere they go, the plagues followed them. It wasn't where the israelites were that kept them from the plagues. It was what was on them, the distinction, the favor, the blessing that comes from being a child of the most high God.
Friends, you and I have that same blessing. We may have things around us that could harm us, keep us from our dreams, bring us down. Stay in faith. There is a distinction on your life, on your property, on your children, on your career, on your health put there by the Creator of the universe.
Growing up, a friend of ours was a successful businessman. He owned thousands of acres of orange groves, and one winter, it was predicted they were going to have a hard freeze, and that was unusual in that part of the country. It never froze there, and he knew that would destroy all of his crops, cost him thousands of dollars.
In the natural, there was nothing he could do. That's what all the circumstances said. But he understood this principle that God had put a distinction on his property, that God had a hedge around his business, and instead of being defeated, thinking, "Oh great, bad luck this year," he went out and walked all around his orange groves, and thanked God that they would live, thanked him that they wouldn't freeze, that he would have a harvest that year.
When the other farmers that lived around him heard what he did, that he prayed for his trees, they thought he was so strange, so far out. They made fun, ridiculed him. The next day, lasted a little over 24 hours, and the other farmers were very discouraged, trying to figure out how they were going to make a living not having a harvest that year. But a couple of weeks later, it was the most unusual sight.
Our friend's property, hundreds and hundreds of acres, had the most beautiful, healthy orange trees. Him on all four sides, their trees were totally dead. It was like somebody put a blanket over his property. Even the other farmers were so amazed. Instead of making fun of him, they said, "Next time, will you pray for our crops as well"?
I know some people will think, "Joel, that's just a lucky break. That's just the way the clouds must have formed that day, just the way the winds must have blown". No, that was the hand of God putting a distinction on his property. That was God's face shining down on him. God has put this same distinction on you. Don't talk yourself out of it. "Well, business is kind of slow. A couple of my co-workers got laid off. I don't see how I could get out of debt".
Your job is not your source; God is your source. The economy doesn't determine whether or not you're blessed, God does. He has already marked you for favor. He's already put this distinction on your life. Dare to pray bold prayers. Believe for unusual favor. Take the limits off of God.
A lady told me how she was having her best year in her career. She works in some kind of sales, and her whole industry in general was down. They were going through her co-workers were struggling and her competitors were way down. But she said, "It seems like every time I turn around, a new account is finding me". She told how, three or four times, she was at the right place at the right time.
Unexpectedly, business dropped into her lap. She made the statement, "Joel, I'm supposed to go out and find new customers, but it's like new customers are always finding me". Psalm 37 says, "Even in famine, the righteous will have more than enough". Even in a down time, because she's the righteous, because she has this distinction, she's seeing increase and favor.
Here's the key. As long as you stay close to God, as long as you keep him first place, you are connected to a supply line that will never run dry. Even in a slow economy, God will cause clients to find you. Even when the medical report says no way, you are connected to a supply line filled with health, wholeness, restoration. When you don't see how you could accomplish your dreams, don't get discouraged. You have a supply line connected with good breaks, the right people.
I have friends that live in another state, and they were trying to sell their home, but the housing market in their area was very depressed. A large company had gone out of business, and that's where many of the people worked and lived.
Now, there was a surplus of homes on the market. On their street alone, there the average time for a house to sell back then was a year and a half. Their realtor had already told them, "Don't be in a hurry. This is going to be a long, drawn out process, and the value could go down and down".
In the natural, it didn't look good. But instead of expecting the worst, thinking it would never sell, this young couple was bold enough to believe, like the israelites, that God had put a distinction on their property. Every morning, they said, "Father, thank you that you're causing our house to stand out. Thank you that people are being drawn to it".
Six weeks after they put it on the market, they received at closing, they were talking to the new owners, and they told how they had looked at many different properties, even houses in a better location. But they said, "When we came to your house, there was just something different about it. We felt a peace. We knew it was supposed to be ours".
What is that? Distinctive favor, God causing it to stand out. I wonder what would happen if you would get up every morning and say, "Father, thank you that your face is shining down on me. Thank you that you put a distinction on my life". All the circumstances may say otherwise. "You'll never get well. You'll never meet the right person. Your house is never going to sell".
Don't believe those lies. You have to have a boldness like this young couple to believe that there's something different about you, that you have a right to be blessed, you have a right to see favor. Not arrogantly, but in humility, knowing that because of who you are, a child of the most high, he has set you apart, he's put favor on you that causes you to stand out.
Like the israelites, God has put a distinction on your life, on your property, on your career. You have an advantage, and if you'll get this down in your spirit, you'll start praying these bold prayers and believing for things.
This is what my father did. He tried for many years to build a new sanctuary, but every time he tried to move forward, he felt an unrest, knew it wasn't the right time. In 1986, Houston was in one of the greatest recessions our city had ever seen. Businesses were going bankrupt. People were struggling. My father had just been released from the hospital after having it's a few weeks before christmas.
It looked like the worst time to start any project, especially the worst time to try to raise funds. But deep down, he could hear God telling him to do it right then, and thought, "God, that doesn't make sense. This is a down time. People aren't going to have extra income. How can we possibly raise these funds"? He heard God whisper, "Son, I want you to do it now so people will know it's me and not anybody else".
God likes to do unusual things in your life so that he will get the credit. A year and a half later, they dedicated that new $6 million auditorium totally debt free. Even in a down economy, even when critics said no way, the circumstances said it's not going to happen, God said, "Don't worry. It may be that way in the natural, but I'm a supernatural God. I put a distinction on you that will cause you to defy the odds, to have more than enough even in famine".
In the scripture, Joseph went through a lot he was betrayed by his brother, sold into slavery, put in prison for something that he didn't do. For 13 years, you could say he was in a famine. He could have been bitter, negative. "God, why did you let this happen to me"? But Joseph understood this principle. Despite the opposition, he kept being his best.
No matter how much people tried to push him down, he kept rising to the top. He worked for a man and Joseph was so excellent in what he did, he had such a good attitude, Potiphar put him in charge of his household. The scripture says Potiphar noticed the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything that he did.
Potiphar saw the distinction, and God wants to bless you in such a way where people notice. He wants to show out in your life where people say, "You mean you sold your house in 6 weeks when it should have taken a year and a half? You mean all the orange groves froze, but yours didn't? You mean you built the sanctuary in the middle of a recession? Joel, you mean your mother had terminal cancer in 1981, but she's still alive today? You mean you're having church in the former compaq center"?
That's what distinctive favor does, causes you to stand out, and you may have seen some of this in the past, but you need to get ready, you haven't seen anything yet. God is about to do some things in your life that are going to make you noticed. People are going to see it wasn't just your talent, your ability, your connections. It was the hand of God opening doors that no man can open, taking you where you could be.
The scripture says God began to bless Potiphar for Joseph's sake. Because of the distinction on Joseph's life, people around him begin to get blessed. Your company should be glad to have you at work. When you get there, the blessing gets there. When you show up, some of your friends, relatives, co-workers, they don't even know they're being blessed because of you.
Well, what's interesting is Joseph was a slave. He didn't have a prestigious position. He was taking care of the house, doing repairs, mowing, cleaning. On the other hand, Potiphar, he was one of the highest ranking military officials of that day. People looked up to him, saluted him, did whatever he asked.
You would think that Joseph would be blessed because of Potiphar's sake. It's just the opposite. What am I saying? The distinction God put on you is more powerful than positions, than titles, than education. When God's face is shining down on you, you'll not only rise higher, but it's so powerful that people even around you will begin to get blessed.
I know a man that used to do some consulting work with us years ago, and we were a small client compared to who he worked for. He consulted for these big fortune 500 companies, and really impressive resume.
We got to know each other and went out to lunch a couple of times, and about a year in, he said, "Joel, ever since I started working for your ministry, my business has gone to a new level". He named client after client that he had picked up, big, impressive names. He turned to the associate standing next to us and he said, "I like working for Joel. He brings me good luck". He called it luck, but I know put on our life. It's the favor he's placed on you and me.
One time, Abraham moved to a new country with his family, his relatives, all his flocks and herds, and he found this beautiful piece of land, luscious green pastures, peaceful ponds. It looked like a postcard. But in a few months, he realized the land couldn't sustain he told his nephew lot to choose where he wanted to live, and Abraham would go somewhere else.
Lot said he wanted to stay there. He chose the best part of the land. Abraham, instead of arguing, he took the high road. He moved to a different part of the country. But this time, all he could find was a place that was dry and barren. Instead of lush, beautiful, green pastures, now it was like the desert: rocks, sand, very little water.
In the natural, Abraham should have struggled, seen his crops dry up, his business go down to nothing. But it was just the opposite. It wasn't any time before his flocks and herds multiplied so much that that dry, barren land was turned to a beautiful oasis. In fact, the scripture talks about he had so much that he became one of the wealthiest men of that time.
Like Abraham, even if you're in the desert, because of the distinction God put on you, you're still going to flourish. Your location doesn't determine the blessing. What God put on you determines the blessing. When he called you out, he marked you for favor. Wherever you go, the blessing goes. Now, you may not have the perfect job, people aren't treating you right, you're not getting the credit you deserve. That's okay, you're not working unto people, you're working unto God. People don't determine your destiny, God does.
Keep being your best, honoring God, and like Joseph, God will cause you to be noticed. He'll cause you to stand out. Potiphar will come looking for you. At the right time, God will either turn that around by promoting you, or he'll move you somewhere else. But the key is don't wait till you're out of the desert, then you're going to have a good attitude, then you're going to start being your best.