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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Joel Osteen » Joel Osteen - Don't Fight Back

Joel Osteen - Don't Fight Back

Joel Osteen - Don't Fight Back

I want to talk to you today about "Don't fight it". We all face situations that we don't like. Somebody's not treating us right, business is not going as fast as we'd hoped, we're single and still haven't met anyone. It's easy to live uptight - all wrought up on the inside. We don't understand why it's taking so long, why this person hasn't changed, why our prayers haven't been answered.

We end up frustrated, fighting against everything that we don't like.

But here's the key: just because it's uncomfortable, doesn't mean it's not where we're supposed to be.

God uses difficulties to do a work in us. We grow in the tough times. That's when our character is being developed, and God will not allow a difficulty unless he has a divine purpose for it.

And if we're going to reach our highest potential, we have to make up our mind:

— "I'm not going to live frustrated because I'm uncomfortable.
— I'm not going to be upset, because things are not happening on my timetable.
— I'm not going to fight against, everything that I don't like".

Our attitude should be, "God, I trust you. You're in complete control. I may not like this situation, but you wouldn't have me here unless I needed it, so I'm going to keep a good attitude, and be my best right where I am". That's how you position yourself for promotion.

In the scripture, it says that God didn't lead the Israelites the shortest route to the promised land. He took them the long way on purpose, because they were not prepared for war. God knew if he would've taken them in too quickly, they would've been easily defeated. Their enemies were much bigger, much more experienced. I'm sure they prayed many times, "God, we're uncomfortable out here in the desert. We're hot, we're tired, let us go in sooner".

But God didn't answer that prayer, not because God was trying to make their life miserable, but God knew what was up in front of them. He had to toughen them up, and get them prepared, so they could step in to the fullness in the same way.

In the same way - God has already laid out the plan for your life. He knows exactly what you need, when you need it, who you need. He knows the battles you're going to face, the dreams you're going to accomplish. He's got it all figured out.

That's why we cannot pray away every uncomfortable situation. "God, this person at work, they're getting on my nerves. You got to get him out of my life". No, God will use that person, like sandpaper, to rub the the rough edges off of you. Even if you were to pray them away, God would send you two more people just like them.

I've learned this: God is more interested in changing us, than He is in changing our circumstances.

God loves you too much to let you stay where you are. It may be uncomfortable, but you have to remind yourself, "This is not working agaínst me, this is working for me. It's getting me in position, for the amazing future God has in store".

And the truth is, some of the things you may be praying about - if God were to remove them right now, you wouldn't be prepared for where God is taking you. You got to let God do the work in you. In other words, be kind to the people that are not treating you right. Keep being your best, even though you're not getting the credit. Pass those tests.

Paul prayed in Colossians 3, that the people would have the strength to endure, whatever came their way. He didn't pray that God would deliver them instantly, remove the difficulty. He prayed that they would have the strength to go through it, with a good attitude. Paul understood this principle, that God uses the tough times, to get us prepared for the next level.

Think about David. He was chosen to be king, anointed by God, to be the next leader of Israel. Surely God would answer all of his prayers. Surely God would make his life comfortable.

No, David had to go through this same process. For many years, king Saul made David's life miserable. David had done Saul nothing but good. He would play music when Saul wasn't feeling well, treated him with respect. But in return, Saul tried to kill David, chased him through the mountainside.

I can hear David praying, "God, you got to get this man out of my life. God, you know I haven't done anything wrong".

Isn't it interesting - God didn't remove Saul? He didn't answer that prayer. Here, David was doing the right thing, it was an unfair situation, but God knew what he was doing. He was getting David prepared.

The longer you do the right thing when the wrong thing's happening, the longer you keep a good attitude in an unfair situation, the hígher God is going to take you. Don't be discouraged by it.

"Joel, I've been doing the right thing in this marriage for years. I'm not seeing any results.”... “I've been volunteering in the Nursery for a long time. Nobody ever says, 'thank you.'”... “ I go to work, do more than I have to. I'm not being promoted". You're right where David was.

Keep being faithful, keep doing the right thing. God is getting you prepared for something amazing. Your future is so big, God has to get your spiritual muscles, your character, your maturity, to match the level that God is about to thrust you to.

Now, don't fight it, just keep being your best. God is closely watching you. He sees every time you make a sacrifice, every time you overlook a wrong, every time you take the high road, every time you help someone in need. That doesn't go unnoticed. God is keeping the records. He's saying, "Payday is coming. The breakthrough is coming. The reward is coming. The new level is coming".

Just like David, you're going to take your throne and become everything God's created you to be.

But we naturally all like things easier. We'd love for God to remove the difficult people, eliminate the hardships, answer our prayers the first time we prayed, but that's not always what's best.

Have a new perspective. Those difficulties are not happening to you, they're happening for you.

The people that are hard to get along with - if you'll have the right attitude, take the high road, be kind, ignore their negative comments - they're not holding you down, they're polishing you, they're refining you, they're making you shine.

Don't be upset - you couldn't go where God wants you to go without them. They're doing you a favor. Without that sandpaper, you would stay rough. The next time you see them, instead of thinking, "Oh man, I don't feel like dealing with them," no, just smile and say, "Thank you, Lord, I'm going to be polished a little bit more today. I'm going to shine a little bit brighter".

Could it be, that you are fighting what God wants to use? You're spending all your time trying to pray away the difficulty, when you should be spending your time honoring God in the midst of the difficulty?

Instead of fighting where you are, try a different approach. Embrace where you are. It may not be where you want to stay. I'm not saying to settle there and accept mediocrity. I'm saying, to accept where you are, knowing that the Creator of the universe, has you in the palm of His hand. He's directing your steps. Nothing that's happened to you is a surprise to Him, and at the right time, God will change it.

In your due season, when you're ready, when it's best for you, God will remove the difficulty and take you to a new level. But in the meantime, one way we could show God we're trusting him, is by enjoying our life, while God is changing the circumstances.

Maybe all your friends are married, you're still single - “That's all right, this is where God has me right now, I'm at peace. I'm happy, I know the right person is already on their way.”

That's how you pass the test.

Not every other minute, "God, I'm begging you, please send me a man. God, I've been waiting for this". No, "God, I trust you".

Maybe you're in an apartment, believing for a nicer place to live. Not, "God, I am so sick and tired of this place,” and “God, Joel said things have shifted, and I haven't seen one shift in my life". No, "God, I trust you. This is where you have me right now, I'm content. But God, I know in my future, you're going to open the windows of heaven, pour out blessings that I cannot contain. Lord, I want to thank you in advance, that it's on the way".

That's how you see promises come to pass.

When we were trying to acquire this facility, the former Compaq Center, it was a 3 1/2 year battle. The Houston city council voted for us to have the building, but then a large company filed a lawsuit to try to keep us from moving in. At times it looked impossible. All the odds were against us. Even if we were to win the lawsuit, it could've been tied up for 10 years in the court system... and I had already told the congregation that it was ours, we were going to renovate it and move in.

Many times, I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, with a voice saying, "What if it doesn't work out? What if you don't win the lawsuit? You've already put the vision out, Joel, people have given funds. It's going to be a big mess".

I was tempted to worry, be stressed, beg God, "God, you got to please make this happen". No, I did what I'm asking you to do. "God, it's all in your hands. I believe, God, you've promised us this building. But while I'm waiting, I'm not going to worry. I'm not going to live frustrated. I'm not going to play out all the what-ifs. God, I trust you. I know you have the final say".

Instead of fighting it, begging God, I embraced where I was. We're in a lawsuit, it's out of my control, I've done my best, now I'm going to stay in faith and trust God to do the rest.

Three and a half years later, God gave us this beautiful facility, here we are today. But think about this. God could've answered our prayers the first week we prayed, just as easily as he did three and a halve years later.

He's God, it would've been no big deal. He wouldn't have even had to get up off the Throne. He could've just spoken it and it would've happened.

Why didn't He do it? One reason, I believe, is God was doing a work in me. During those three and a halve years, I learned to trust God, like I had never trusted him before. Some things you can only learn in the struggle. You can't learn in the good times, when it's easy, everything's going your way. That doesn't take any faith.

You can only learn, like David, when you're in the wilderness, and you're not being treated right. Don't be frustrated, because it's not happening your way, on your timetable. God knows what He's doing. He's getting you prepared.

And here's the key: your destiny is bigger than you think. You're going to go further than you can imagine. God can see the new levels in front of you. He knows what's up there, now keep passing those tests.

Stay in faith even when it's difficult. Keep doing the right thing even when the wrong thing is happening. Don't fight it, begging God every other minute, "Please God, you got to change it". That's just going to frustrate you.

Learn to embrace where you are.

And it's okay to be honest and say, "God, I don't like where I am. I'm uncomfortable, it's taking longer than I thought. But God, I trust you. I know this is not happening to me, it's happening for me. It's all a part of your divine plan".

When you learn to embrace where you are, it's a freeing way to live. It takes all the pressure off.

Hebrews (4:3) says: "Those who have believed enter into rest". The way to know that you're really in faith, is you're at rest. There's a peace. You may have a problem, believing for a situation to turn around, it's taking a long time, you could easily be discouraged.

No, the key is: to stay in that place of rest, where you know God is in complete control. You're not moved by what you see. You're not worried because it's taking a long time. You're not disappointed because you went through a setback. Every day you stay in peace, you are one day closer to seeing that situation turn around.

"Well," you say, "Joel, I just don't understand why God doesn't answer my prayers. I'm going to church, I'm faithful, I help others".

Think about this - maybe what you're praying about is too small. Maybe God has something much better, and He loves you so much, that He won't answer that prayer. But until you enter into this rest, and quit being sour, thinking that God's letting you down, it'll keep the new thing from happening.

Now, a prayer that we should all pray on a regular basis, is "God, not my will, but let Your will be done." And it's okay to say, "God, this is what I'm believing for. God, this is what I want. This is what I'm dreaming about. But God, if you have something better, I trust you. You know what's best for me". If you're only going to be happy if God does it your way, then you're not really trusting.

We can only see a little bit down the road. God can see the big picture. He can see around every curve. He knows where the dead ends are, where the shortcuts are. God knows how to get you to your destination. Why don't you take your hands off the wheel, so to speak, and let God take you what He wants you to go?

In 2001, an executive flew to Houston for an important job interview. It was at a top company, one of the largest in the nation, headquartered right here in Houston. In the natural, it was a golden opportunity, looked like a huge boost for his career. He was ready to give up his position of nearly 30 years, and move his family here to town. He flew in a day early, came to the service, and asked us to pray over the interview.

We prayed that God would give him wisdom and favor, and cause him to stand out. He called back the next day so excited, everything had gone great, looked very promising. Three weeks later, he was invited back for a second interview. Once again, he flew in a day early. We prayed, he went to the interview. A few hours later they called him back in, said, "We really like you. You're very talented, but we're sorry, you're not going to fit with our organization".

You would've thought that his world had just ended. He was so set on having that position, he felt like God had totally let him down. I told him what I'm telling you - you've got to trust God even when you don't get the answer that you were looking for. You got to believe that God's in control, He's directing your steps, keeping you on the best plan for your life. He went back home to his city very, very disappointed.

Six months later, the company he was trying to get a position with filed for bankruptcy. It was a big scandal, all over the national news. The company ended up totally folding. Here's how good God is. He was two years away from his retirement. If he had gotten hired by that company, he would not only not have a job, but he would've lost nearly 30 years of his retirement benefits. Friends, God knows what he's doing.

Quit fighting against what doesn't go your way. Quit being disappointed, because your plans didn't work out. You may not understand it now, but one day, you will thank God for those closed doors. God's ways are better than our ways. Don't try to figure it all out.

"Well, Joel, why didn't I get the promotion? I had the seniority, I work the hardest". Listen just as God supernaturally opens doors, God will supernaturally close doors. We all thank God for the open doors, and that's good, we should celebrate that.

But I've learned: to thank God just as much for my closed doors. What I used to see as a disappointment, now I see as the hand of God.

I realized, if God closed it, He has something better in store. Why don't you trust Him? Why don't you enter into that rest? God, You know what's best for me. I don't have to have my way to be happy. I know Your plans are better than my plans.

A few years back, a young lady came to the altar for prayer, and she was very distraught because her boyfriend had just broken up with her. She was certain he was the man of her dreams, and she couldn't live without him. We prayed and asked God to restore that relationship. For the next 6 months, almost every week, she would come back for prayer, and we prayed again and again. I tried to tell her to stay open, trust God to do it His way, He knows what's best for you.

She didn't want to hear any of that. She only wanted God to do it her way. But God is so merciful. He loves us so much. If it's not the right thing, God will keep the door closed even though we're trying to pry it open.

We see it as a big disappointment, "God, I can't believe you let me down. You didn't answer my prayer". The truth is, God was doing us a favor. He was saving us from heartache and pain.

Now, I didn't see her for a long time. About five years later, I ran into her in the lobby after the service. She was very happy. She had a handsome young man by her side, a newborn baby, come to find out they were married a couple of years earlier. She was so excited. I congratulated them, prayed over the little baby.

At one point, her husband stepped away. She whispered, "Joel, you remember the young man I used to have you pray about all the time"? I thought, "Yeah, the one you couldn't live without"? She told how he's been married and divorced twice already, he's constantly in and out of trouble, can't hold down a good job. I'll never forget what she said, "I thank God every day that he didn't answer those prayers".

But I wonder, how many things are we upset over, wondering why God didn't answer that prayer, why the situation didn't change, why the door closed? Yet, if God were to pull back the curtain, and let us see into the future what He can see, we'd realize, God knows exactly what He's doing. God has our best interest at heart.

That promotion you didn't get, you were so disappointed, it's because God had something better. That door that closed, we couldn't understand it. It seemed like a perfect fit for us. But seeing the big picture, we realized that road was a dead end. It was leading to nowhere.

That traffic jam you got caught in – you were so stressed out. It was saving you from an accident. That person that walked out on you - it's very painful. But if they hadn't left, you wouldn't meet the right person God has in your future.

I'm asking you to quit fighting against everything you don't like. It's not happening to you, its happening for you. When you're at rest, you're passing the test.

A friend of mine, went up to the Mall recently, to return an item. She had her little newborn baby in the back seat. When she pulled into the parking lot, she noticed this lady was about to pull out, and she waited there, and waited, and waited, and waited... The lady was taking forever.

The longer she waited, the more frustrated she became. She thought: “Come on lady, I know you can see me, what could be taking you so long!” After several minutes, she got aggravated and just drove off – went and parked at the very end of the road.

She got out, got her little baby, and headed to the store. When she got to the front of the store, she realized, she had forgotten the item that she wanted to take back. She was already frustrated. She thought: “This is just not my day! Nothing is going my way.” She walked all the way back to her car, long way, with her baby, got the item she needed, turned back and started walking back toward the store.

When she got about halve way there, this care came around in a big rush, rolled down the window, and said: “Hey, don't go in the store, there's a deranged man in there, with a gun, taking people hostage.” In less than a minute, there were a dozen police cars, SWAT team, helicopter, surrounding that place, trying to get the people out safely.

Without that delay, she could have been in there, with her newborn baby, trapped with that deranged man.

What am I saying – don't fight your delays. Don't fight the inconveniences, don't fight when you get caught by that train. You may not understand it, but God knows what He's doing. He can see the big picture. Dare to trust Him.

Proverbs 20 says: “Since the Lord is directing our steps, why do we try to figure out, everything that happens along the way.”

You may never know why you had a delay, a disappointment, a setback. But when you really believe that the Creator of the universe, has you in the palm of His hand, then you can stay in peace, even when you don't understand it. That's what faith is all about.

I know a gentleman, that does missionary work in Africa. He was supposed to catch an early morning flight, the next day, to come back home. The person taking him, had car trouble, and he ended up missing that flight. He was very upset, because it was going to take him another week to get home, from that small city. He went back to the hotel, a little later that afternoon flipped on the news – the plane he was suppose to be on, had crashed into the mountain side.

Some of the very things that we fight against, the things that frustrate us, God has ordained them, to keep us from accident and harm. They're called “divine delays” - your plans are interrupted on purpose.

Since the Lord is directing our steps, don't fight it. It's not always going to make sense.

I turned fifty years old in March of this year, and I was reflecting back over my life, and just thinking about what would I have done differently, what could I have done better. And I have not big regrets, I've lived a happy, blessed life. But one adjustment I would have made, is, I would have trusted God more.

I wouldn't have worried about things that I couldn't change. I wouldn't have been stressed out when my plans didn't work out. I wouldn't have stayed awake at night, wondering how we're going to raise the funds, and what am I going to speak on next week. I would've entered into this place of rest.

Some of you are always fighting - worried, uptight, don't like where you are, don't like the job, don't like the people.

Why don't you try a different approach?

This will safe you a lot of frustration. Embrace where you are. Even when it's uncomfortable, even when you don't like it – stay in peace. Keep a good attitude. When you do that, God is using it to your advantage. You're growing, you're developing character. It's positioning you for the amazing future, God has in store.

And, if you will enter into this rest, and not fight against everything, you'll not only enjoy your life more, but I believe and declare, just like David, you're going to step into the fullness of your destiny.

God is going to take you further than you've imagined, opening doors that no man can shut. You're going to overcome every obstacle, accomplish every dream, and become everything that God's created you to be. In Jesus' name.

If you receive it, can you say amen today?
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