Joel Osteen — Doing Business in Deep Waters
I want to talk to you today about "Doing business in deep waters". If you're going to do anything great in life, there will be opposition, setbacks, delays, critics, and a lot of people get discouraged and think, "Why is this happening to me"? It's because you're taking new ground, because you're making progress and the scripture says, "They that go down to the sea to do business in deep waters, they will see the wonders of God".
When you're in these deep "God, please don't let me face anything big". No, you realize, when you have big dreams, you're going to have big challenges. If you were an average person, then you would have average problems, but here's the key: you're not average. You're not in the shallow waters. God put seeds of greatness in you. He's destined you to leave your mark on this generation.
You cannot expect ordinary problems. You're a history-maker. You're a world-changer. "Well, why are these people talking about me at work? Why are they trying to make me look bad"? Listen, they don't talk about average people. They talk about extraordinary people. Take it as a compliment. It goes with the territory. "Every time I try to move forward, I face major challenges". It's because you're a major person, and you have a major destiny.
The enemy would leave you alone if you weren't a major threat. He wouldn't bother you if you didn't have something amazing in your future. Because you're an extraordinary person, you will face extraordinary challenges. The good news is we serve he can get you to where you're supposed to be. When you're in the deep waters, you're not wasting your time trying to convince everyone to like you, win over all your critics, prove to your family members that you really are okay.
Everybody is not going to like you. Everybody is not going to understand you. Your friends may not celebrate your success. Your relatives may find fault. Your co-workers may get jealous. Shake it off and run your race. You're doing business in deep waters. You don't have time to go over in the shallow waters for all that pettiness. You're a history-maker. You cannot please every person and please God at the same time. You'll either have a few people upset with you, or you'll have God upset with you.
I've learned, if you'll please God, he'll take care of your critics. "Well, Joel, they said something about me. I'm going to go straighten them out". No, if that battle is not between you and your God-given destiny, it is simply a distraction. You're not supposed to engage in every battle. You only have so much emotional energy each day. If you're spending that energy thinking about how you can pay somebody back, calling a friend, "Can you believe what they said"? You're not going to have the energy you need for your own dreams. Don't fight battles that don't matter. You've got to be selective in how you spend your time.
We all love our family, but some family members, you have to love them from a distance. Some relatives, once a year at the family reunion is good enough. Go give them big hug. Tell them how much you love them. Ask God for forgiveness for lying, later, but you can't spend all week with uncle Charlie, or he'll pull you into the shallow waters, get you off course. You love aunt Myrtle, but if you spend too much time with her, you're going to be negative, critical, fighting battles that don't matter.
Learn to love them from a distance, and you have to accept the fact that some people are never going to be for you. Treat them with respect, but you don't need their approval to fulfill your destiny.
The apostle Paul had people that were trying to tell him his dreams wouldn't come to pass, tell him what he couldn't do, what he didn't have. He didn't try to straighten them out. He didn't try to win over all of his critics. He said in romans 3, "Does their unbelief make the promise of God of no effect in my life? He was saying, in effect, "So God didn't put the promise in them. He put it in me".
That's the attitude we should have. Always respectfully, "So what if they don't accept me? So what if they're talking about me, trying to discredit me? I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. I'm not going to waste my time trying to prove to them who I am. No, I'm going to stay in the deep waters and do what God has called me to do". That's when you're going to see the wonders of God.
When Billy Graham went to England for the first time over 50 years ago, the press was very negative. They said, "We don't want your religion. We don't need another minister". One reporter said, "How can you even justify coming over here on a big ocean liner, a big ship, when Jesus rode a donkey everywhere he went"? Billy Graham said, "If you'll find me a donkey that can walk on water, I'll buy it in a minute.
Stay in the deep waters. There'll always be people trying to pull you into the shallow waters, criticize, find fault, discredit. Don't waste your time with that. Set your face like a flint 1 Samuel chapter 10, Saul was chosen to be the next king of Israel. Samuel called him up in front of all the people, anointed his head and said, "He's out next leader".
Most of the people were happy for Saul and congratulated him, but when Saul got back home, some of his longtime friends didn't like Samuel's choice. They began to laugh, make fun, ridicule: "Saul's not going to be our king. Saul doesn't have what it takes". The truth is they were jealous of Saul. They were so insecure, so intimidated, they tried to push him down so that they would look bigger.
Remember this: when someone belittles you, they are being little. Small-minded people won't celebrate you. Small-minded people will be jealous, criticize, find fault, gossip, try to make you look bad. Don't ever fight battles with small-minded people. Your destiny is too great to be distracted by someone that's small.
They're not going in verse 27, it says, "They despised Saul and refused to give him gifts". What did he do? "But Saul ignored them". One translation says, "He paid them no mind". My encouragement, pay no mind to jealous people. Pay no mind to people pay no mind to people that try to make you feel small. They don't control your destiny, God does. They are distractions to try to lure you into the shallow waters to keep you from God's best.
Your assignment is too important. Your time is too valuable to be distracted by negative, critical, jealous, small-minded people. If you listen to what they're saying about you, that poison will get on the inside, and you'll start fighting a battle that you were never supposed to fight.
Isaiah 54, says, "No weapon formed against you will prosper. Every tongue raised in judgment, you will show to be in the wrong". When you're in the deep waters, there will be some challenges, attacks, people talking. There may be some tongues raised against you right now, but don't worry. It's not going to hold you back. Because you're honoring God and trusting him in the deep waters, God says you'll see his wonders. His vindication, his favor.
When I first started ministering in 1999, this was all very new to me. Spent 17 years behind the scenes, and suddenly I was thrust in front of a lot of people. I wasn't sure I could do this, and at one point, some people were talking: "He's not as good as his father," and I felt the pressure of learning how to minister. It seemed like on every side there was opposition and negative things happening. I said, "God, I've taken this step of faith. I'm in the deep waters. Sink or swim, God, here I am. You're going to have to help me".
One night, during that time, I had a dream. It was so vivid, I remember it like it was yesterday. In this dream, I was running through a large open field. There were planes flying very low overhead, dropping bombs all around me, just like out of a war movie. A bomb would hit 15 or 20 feet away from me. I would brace myself and wait I knew I was dead. I knew it was over.
The explosion was deafening, but for some reason, every time, the shrapnel never would hit me. Times, and even in my dream, I was amazed that I was still alive. I ended up running to this little house, hiding inside, very afraid. I could hear the soldiers running by, looking for me, and I was praying that they wouldn't check that house, hoping that they wouldn't come inside.
Then my worst nightmare came true. They came bursting in the door, had their guns drawn. I was standing right in front of them, and I thought, "That's it: I'm dead. They found me". They looked at me for a couple of seconds and then turned around and walked out. It was like I had become invisible to them.
I immediately woke up, wide awake, and I could hear God saying, down in here, so strongly, "Joel, things may be exploding all around you, but I've got you in the palm you keep your trust in me, and no weapon formed against you will prosper".
Now when things come against me, I remind myself that God has a hedge of protection around us that the enemy cannot cross. Instead of complaining about how big the obstacle is and how somebody is talking about you, well, come back to that you, who dare be against you? God said, when the enemy comes against you one way, he would defeat them and cause them to flee seven different ways. You may be up against a big challenge today, but that tells me you have a big destiny. The size of your problem is an indication of the size of your future.
David had a big destiny. What did God do? Send him a big problem, but without Goliath, David would still be known as a shepherd boy. That difficulty was not sent to defeat you. The israelites were being mistreated by their captors. The scripture says the more they oppressed them, the more the israelites multiplied. The more they tried to push them down, the higher God took them.
That's the way God is. Will make the enemy pay for bringing that trouble into your life. You'll not only come out, you'll come out stronger, increased, promoted, multiplied. The more people try to make you look bad, the better God will make you look. God said he would prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies. That means the ones that tried to push you down, played politics, left you out, cheated you, God will make sure they see you promoted, elevated, increased, in a position of honor.
In the scripture, Haman tried to discredit Mordecai. He lied about him and told the king how bad Mordecai was and how he should be removed, on and on. Mordecai didn't try to get even, didn't try to straighten him out. He stayed in the deep waters, just kept honoring God, being his best. Haman put a royal robe on Mordecai, march him through the city streets, saying, "Look how great Mordecai is".
The more someone or something tries to push you down, don't worry, God's in control, the more you will be multiplied. Instead of being discouraged by opposition, you can be encouraged by it, knowing on the other side of that difficulty is a new level of your destiny. The enemy always fights us the hardest when we are close to our victory. When you're tempted to get discouraged, sour, go back to the shallow waters, "It's never going to work out," "It's been too long," no, that's when you have to dig your heels in and say, "I've come too far to stop now. My God is still on the throne, fighting my battles. I'm not only coming out, I'm coming out better off than I was before".
A safari guide told how, when a gazelle or wildebeest is pregnant and very close to giving birth, a lion will stalk the animal. Day after day, the lion will follow that pregnant mother around, waiting for her to go into labor. When the mother goes it's an easy target. They can't fight back, so the lion will attack and kill not only the mother, but the baby as well.
In the same way, when you are close to giving birth to your dreams, you will face your greatest attacks. The enemy waits till you're close to the breakthrough, close to the healing, close to the promotion. When you're about to step into a new level of your destiny, don't be surprised if you hit a setback. That's a sure sign you're about to give birth to what God has placed in your heart. The good news is the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. Your destiny cannot be stopped by bad breaks, by opposition, by people, nor by all the forces of darkness. God has the final say.
When you stay in agreement with him, he will get you to where you're supposed to be. You may be up against that big challenge. That tells me you need to get ready. You're about to give birth. You're about to see a promise come to pass. You're about to see that child turn around. You're about to meet the person of your dreams.
This is not the time to get discouraged and think, "Oh, it's taking so long". No, now, more than ever, you need to have the attitude, "I am in it to win it. I am not going to let this bad break, this unfair situation, this disappointment steal my dreams. I'm going to give birth to everything God's placed in my heart.
I know some of you have had more than your share of unfair situations. Maybe you lost a loved one, a relationship didn't work out, perhaps a child has caused you a lot of heartache and pain, but know this: nothing that you've been through has been wasted. Every struggle, every wrong, every sleepless night has deposited something on the inside. It's helped develop your character. You are not defined by your past. You are prepared by your past. It has put you in position for the new thing God is about to do.
Zechariah said, "If you will be a prisoner of hope, God will restore double back to you". God wants to give you beauty for the ashes. You've got to do your part and get your hopes up. Get your fire back. Start believing. Start dreaming. That's not just being positive.
There was a lady in the old testament, an israelite woman. She did just the opposite. She was about to give birth to a baby. She heard that the ark of the covenant this is where God lived back then. It was a big deal. She was so distraught, so upset that when her baby was born, she named her son Ichabod. "Ichabod" means "The glory has departed".
Notice, she named her future, based on what had happened in the past. She could've just as easily named him, "The glory will return". She could've named him what Zechariah said, "Double the glory is coming," but she was so caught up in what she'd been through, the disappointment, the heartache, that it tainted her whole future.
So often we do the same thing. We're focused on what we lost, how unfair it was. We don't think it's going to change. No, don't ever name your future in other words, don't go around thinking, "Well, Joel, I didn't get any good breaks last year. I'm sure it's going to be the same: struggle, loneliness, depression, sickness, people not treating me right". No, get that Ichabod spirit off of you. God is doing a new thing. The enemies you've seen in the past, you will see no more. God has shifted things in your favor. What's meant for your harm, God is turning to your advantage.
Here's what you should name your future: "Blessed, prosperous, victorious, healthy, strong, talented, well-able". You may be in a difficult season. Your attitude should be, "This is only temporary. I know it's just a matter of time before it turns around". It may seem like you're stuck, you'd never rise any higher, but don't go around I've reached my limits. I don't have the connections. I don't have the funds". No, name your future by saying, "God's face is smiling down on me. He's opening new doors of opportunity. He's putting me at the right place at the right time. My greatest victories are not behind me. They're still out in front of me".
Increase, blessing. When you think about your future, there should be an excitement, an expectancy. You're looking for God's goodness, not dragging around, thinking, "Oh, it's so hard. Why is it taking so long"? No, all through the day, "Something good is going to happen to me. Blessings are chasing me down. Favor is in my future".