Joel Osteen — Focus On The Promise, Not The Problem
I want to talk to you today about focusing on the promise, not the problem. What we focus on, we magnify. We're not changing its actual size. We're simply making it bigger in our own mind. And if you stay focused on your problems, on a negative medical report, on what somebody said about you, on how you'll never get out of debt, all that's going to do is make it bigger than it really is. It's changing perception of it.
You can take a small coin, if you hold it up close enough to your eye, eventually it will block the sun. And that coin, even though it's billions and trillions of times smaller, because you've got it so close, it's distorting your perspective. It looks bigger than this huge object. In the same way, if you stay focused on something that you don't like about yourself, "I'm too short. I don't like my nose. I wish I had more hair. I wish my voice wasn't so high," if you stay focused on those things, it will block the amazing future God has in store.
And you may have some things you don't like, some things you consider are wrong with you. We all do. But can I tell you there's a lot right with you? Quit magnifying what's wrong. Quit focusing on what you don't like, and start focusing on what God said about you. God said you are a masterpiece. He said you are fearfully and wonderfully made. He said you are one of a kind. You have the right looks, the right personality, the gifts that you need for the race that's designed for you.
Magnify what's right about you and not what's wrong. If you were to get a negative medical report, you could go home it on the internet, find 43 side effects to add to your worries, and 27 different ways you can die from it, and then call a friend and have them tell you how their cousin had it, and he only made it 4 months. And the next door neighbor, he got chills in 24 hours. All that time, it's becoming bigger and bigger in your mind. The actual size you keep dwelling on it, giving it your attention, letting it take all your energy, it's become distorted. Now, it's like that little coin that's blocking the sun.
My message today is very simple. Stop focusing on the problems, and start focusing on the promises. All through the day, instead of complaining, "God, you said with long life you would satisfy me. You said the number of my days you would fulfill, that I would live and not die, that you are restoring health back unto me". Remember it takes the same amount of energy to believe as it does to worry.
You can go through the day thinking, "Man, prices are so high. I don't know how I'll ever be able to send my kids to college. What if I don't get the promotion? What if I don't get the scholarship? What if I lose this client? I don't know how I'm going to make it". To worry like that, or you can spend that same energy saying, "Father, thank you that you're supplying all of my needs. You said you'd take pleasure in prospering me. You said you would open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings that I could not contain".
When you magnify the promises instead of the problems, that's your faith being released. That's what allows God to go to work. Maybe you're concerned about your children. You could go around thinking, "I don't know if they're ever going to get back on the right path, Joel. I raised them in church. I taught them to do what's right. I just don't understand it". Or you can say, "Father, thank you that, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. God, you promised the seed of the righteous will be mighty in the land. God, you said if I'd raise my children in the fear of the Lord, they would not depart from it. They may be off-course temporarily, but Lord, I want to thank you that they're coming back, that they will fulfill their destinies".
If you'll change your focus from the problem to the promise, worry will leave. Doubt, fear, negativity will go. Faith will rise up. You'll know that God is still on the throne, he's bigger than anything you're facing, and what he promised he will bring to pass. If you're single and you want to get married, don't go around thinking, "I'll never meet the right person. I'm too old. I missed too many opportunities. It's never going to happen". No, turn it around. "God, you said because I delight myself in you, you would give me the desires of my heart. Lord, you said no good thing will you withhold because I walk uprightly. And Lord, I want to thank you that my good thing is coming in. That man, that woman that you've already picked out for me, it's just a matter of time before they show up".
Whatever you're believing for, instead of magnifying the negative, instead of worrying, find a promise that you can stand on. And all through the day, let that play in your mind. "God, you said you hold victory in store for the upright. You said your favor surrounds me like a shield. You said the path of the righteous gets brighter and brighter".
The reason it's so important to have a promise that you can focus on is because God is not obligated to bring to pass what we say, but he is obligated to bring to pass what he says. And when you can say, "God, you said I would prosper and live in good health. God, you said you'd always cause me to triumph. God, you said my latter days will be better than my former days". When God hears his promises coming out of your mouth, he says to the angels, "Go to work. Get busy, make it happen".
I know a lady that was at odds with her teenage daughter, and she used to come down for prayer almost every week, and she was always frustrated, aggravated, stressed out. And really, more than wanting prayer, I think she just wanted an opportunity to complain and one day, I told her what I'm telling you. "Quit focusing on the problem. Start focusing on the promise". And I gave her the scripture from proverbs 31. It says, "Children will rise up and call their mother blessed".
At that time, her daughter was calling her every name except blessed. But this mother took it to heart. All through the day, started saying, "God, you said my children are going to rise up when her daughter would act up, be disrespectful, instead of going to God and complaining like she used to, no, "God, you said she's going to call me blessed". She found other promises that she could stand on, like, "Children are a gift from God that are to be enjoyed". She kept reminding God what he said.
It was about 2 years later this daughter had a total change of heart. Today, she's as kind and respectful as can be. She and her mom are best friends. They do everything together. Now, when this mother quotes the passage, "My children will rise up and call me blessed," she's not saying it by faith anymore. It's become a reality. That's what happens when you focus on the promise and not the problem.
And this is what Abraham did. When God gave him the promise that he and his wife Sarah were going to have a baby, they were both way too old. In the natural, but Romans 4 says, "Abraham considered not the weakness of his own body, nor the deadness of Sarah's womb". In other words, he didn't go around thinking, "Well, God gave me this promise, but I must not have heard him right because Sarah is nearly 80 years old. It's not going to happen".
He didn't get on the internet and google chances of having a baby at 100. He didn't call his friends and get their input to see what they thought. If he would have stayed that impossibility would have become so magnified, gotten so big in his mind that doubt, fear, negativity would have kept it from happening. God works where there's faith.
Abraham did the same thing that I'm asking you to do. It goes on to say he considered not his circumstances, but he was fully persuaded that God would do Abraham made this decision, "I'm not going to use my energy to worry. I'm not going to go around thinking about how it's not going to work out. I've got a promise from God". And I can hear him all through the day saying, "God, you promised I'm going to have a child. God, you said I would be the father of many nations. You said, God, that my descendants would be as numerous and God, it looks impossible to me, but I know you can do the impossible".
He kept focusing on the promise, reminding God what he said. And that promise became bigger and bigger in his mind. He became fully persuaded. Where doubt, fear, negativity didn't have a chance, faith rose up. And sure enough, against all odds, when they were nearly 100 years old, they had that baby.
And if you're going to see your dreams come to pass, if you're going to see those promises fulfilled, there will be times, like with Abraham, you have to consider not your negative circumstances. You may have to consider not a medical report. Doctors do the best they can with the knowledge that they have. But there comes a point, sometimes like with my mom, doctors run out of options. There's nothing more they can do, medically speaking. The good news is God can do what medical science cannot do. God never runs out of options. He has the final say, he made your body.
You may have to consider not a financial situation. On paper, it may look like you're not going to get out of debt until you're 147 years old. If you stay focused on that and just continually run the numbers, and analyze it, and reanalyze it, all that's going to do is make you frustrated, stressed out, worried. Instead of considering your circumstances, why don't you start considering your God? He spoke worlds into existence. He flung stars into space. He's got you in the palm of his hand. One touch of his favor can catapult you to a new level. One good break, one explosive blessing can put you into overflow.
When we acquired this facility, the former compaq center, our architects told us that it would cost about $100 million to renovate. We had to put in a new power plant. My first thought was, "How in the world are we going to be able and they projected future giving. If we sold a piece of property, everything fell perfectly into place, we still calculated we would be considerably short. On paper, we couldn't make it happen. And I studied those numbers so much that I would wake up in the middle of the night dreaming about them.
And one day, I did what I'm asking you to do. I said, "God, I've considered the numbers. I've considered the facts. I've had well-qualified people give me charts, projections, analysis. And on paper, it doesn't look good. But now, God, I'm going to change my focus and start considering you. God, I know you stopped the sun for Joshua. You protected Daniel from hungry lions. You took 5 loaves of bread and fed 5,000. You turned water into wine. That was back in bible days, but in my own life, God, I saw you heal my mom from terminal cancer. I saw you bring my father out of poverty and defeat into a life of purpose and abundance. God, you caused me and Victoria to stumble on a house that doubled in value overnight. God, you gave us this beautiful facility when all the odds were against us. And God, you said what you started in my life, you would finish. You said we'd see the surpassing greatness of your favor. You said you would supply our needs, not according to what we have, but according to your riches".
And when I changed my focus, and instead of considering my circumstances, started considering my God, faith rose up, hope rose up, expectancy rose up. I got to the place where I was fully persuaded. I knew God would make a way even though we didn't see a way. And that's exactly what happened. Here we are today not just believing for the promise, we're enjoying the promise. Not just dreaming the dream, living the dream.
The psalmist put it this way: "Let God arise and his enemies be scattered". When you make God bigger in your life, when you let him arise, focusing on his greatness, fighting your battles, making your crooked places straight, and you go out with this attitude of faith, expecting breakthroughs, expecting dreams to come to pass, when you let God arise like that, your enemies will be scattered. Enemies of debt and lack, enemies of depression, enemies of sickness, enemies of injustice, nothing can stand against our God. He is the all-powerful Creator of the universe.
Now, my question today, what are you letting arise? What are you lifting up? "Well, Joel, I'm in a slow season at work. Somebody hurt me in a relationship. My health has gone downhill. That's why I'm so discouraged". No, that's letting the wrong things arise. That's doubt, defeat, self-pity. That's not going to do anything productive. You've got to turn it around, change your focus from the problem to the promise, from considering your circumstances to considering your God.
Here's how. All through the day, "God, strength for this battle. God, you said no weapon formed against me will ever prosper. God, you said the trap the enemy set for me they will fall in themselves. God, you said I haven't seen, heard, or imagined the amazing things you have in store. Things are changing in my favor. You've done it in the past; I know you'll do it again in the future". When you let God arise, you can't stay defeated. Healing comes, promotion comes, favor comes, victory comes. Your enemies will be scattered.
One time in the scripture, a man named king Jehoshaphat was facing great opposition. Three major armies were surrounding him and the people of Judah. They were quickly closing in. In the natural, they didn't have a chance. They were outnumbered ten to one. If anyone had a right to get down and discouraged, it would have been Jehoshaphat. But he didn't do it. Instead of complaining, he gathered all the people together, and he began to pray. He didn't say, "God, I'm begging you to help us. God, it's not fair. I don't know why this has happened to us". No, he started talking about the greatness of God. He said, "God, we know all power is in your hands. You rule the nations of the world. Nothing can stand against you".
Then he started remembering what God had done. "God, you drove the inhabitants out of this land. You gave us this city that you promised Abraham. You defeated these enemies over here," on and on. What was he doing? Magnifying God, not his trouble.
In our difficult times, instead of complaining, "Well, I don't know if my child's ever going to straighten up, and business is so slow, I don't think I'll ever overcome this illness," no, if you talk defeat, you're going to have defeat. You got to do like Jehoshaphat, "God, I know you're an awesome God. Nothing is too difficult for you. I know you're bigger than this financial difficulty. You make streets out of gold. You're greater than this sickness. You breathe life into my body. You're more powerful than people coming against me in this legal trouble. No one can stand against you".
The bigger you make God, the smaller your problems become, and the more faith will rise in your heart. But too often we do just the opposite. It's easy to magnify the problem instead of magnifying God.
And this is what the israelites did. Out the promised land. After 40 days, 10 of those men came back and said, "Moses, we don't have a chance. The people are huge. There are giants in the land. We'll never defeat them". The two other spies, Joshua and Caleb, came back with a they said, "Yes, Moses, the people are big, but we know our God is bigger. We are well able to take the land. Let us go in at once".
Both groups saw the same people. They both saw the difference was their perspective. One group focused on the size of their obstacles. The other group focused on the size of their God. And out of the 2 million people that were camped next door to the promised land that day, the only two that ever eventually made it into the promised land were Joshua and Caleb.
Could it be that our own wrong perspective is keeping us out of our promised land? If we think our obstacles are too big, "I'll never accomplish my dreams. I'll never overcome this illness. I'll never get out of debt," then just like them, our own perspective will keep us from God's best. That's why David said, "Magnify the Lord with me". He was saying if you're going to make anything bigger don't make the problems bigger. Don't make the opposition bigger. Don't make the negative medical report bigger. Learn to make God bigger.
It's interesting, when David faced Goliath, he never called him a giant. Everyone else did. They talked about his size, his strength, his skill. Not David. He called him an uncircumcised philistine. He didn't even give him credit for being big. He didn't deny it, his attitude was, "If I'm going to magnify anything, I'm going to magnify the source of my strength. I'm going to talk about the greatness of my God. I'm not going to focus on how big my problems are. I'm going to focus on how big my God is".
David's brothers, the other israelites, they were afraid, intimidated, didn't know what to do. And when David told them that he wanted to fight Goliath, they said, "David, you can't fight Goliath. You're just a kid, you're too small. You don't have a chance". But David had a different perspective. He knew if God be for him, who dare be against him? He knew he was strong in the Lord. He knew he wasn't going out there alone, that all the forces of heaven were backing him up.
And they tried to warn him, "David, you better be careful. You're going to get out there and get hurt. Goliath is too big to hit". David stood before Goliath and said, "Goliath, you come against me with a sword and a shield. But I come against you in the name of the Lord God of israel". Notice what he was doing, magnifying his God, talking about his greatness. You know the story, this teenage boy, half his size, didn't have a chance in the natural, defeated this huge giant. That's what happens when you magnify the promises and not the problems. The apostle paul said "Do not be intimidated by your enemies".
Like David, you may be up against a big giant right now, a giant called an addiction, a giant of debt, a giant of sickness. And you could easily be overwhelmed, think, "Oh man, I don't have a chance". No, don't be intimidated, the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. Have the right perspective. The Most High God is on your side.
I read about this little boy, there was a big bully that lived down the street that was always bothering him. And he was trying to get his nerve up to go stand up to him, but he was just too afraid, didn't have the confidence. And one day, his father bought him a new telescope. He was in the front yard, playing with it, but he was looking through the wrong end. He was looking through the big side.
His father came out and said, "No, son, you're doing it backwards. Turn it around and it will make everything bigger like it was designed to". He said, "Dad, I know that. But right now, I'm looking at this bully. And when I look at him this way it makes so small that I'm not afraid of him anymore".
And maybe you need to turn the telescope around. You've magnified that problem long enough. You've talked about how impossible it is, how it's never going to work out. But if you'll turn the telescope around, you'll see it from the right perspective. You'll realize that it's nothing for our God.
All he's got to do is breathe in your direction. Your dream coming to pass may seem impossible to you, but if you'll turn it around, you'll realize that it just takes one touch of God's favor, one good break, meeting one right person. Or that financial difficulty, that relationship issue, that addiction may seem insurmountable. But if you'll just turn it around, you'll see it from the perspective and realize that, for our God, it's a small thing. He parted the red sea for the israelites. He can make a way in your life. Which end of the telescope are you looking through? You can't go through life focused on the negative and how it's never going to work out. That will keep you from God's best.