Joel Osteen — God Is A Rewarder
I want to talk to you today about how God is a rewarder. When you put God first place and you make it your highest priority to please him, then you can expect to live a blessed, fulfilled life. That's what it says in Hebrews 11:6, "God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him".
People who halfheartedly seek him, people that only think about him when they're having a problem, people that only come to church when something special is going on. No, God rewards people that diligently seek him, people like you that get up every morning and thank him for his goodness, people that go through the day meditating on his promises, people that give him praise in the good times and in the tough times, people that are always growing, learning, striving to do better.
When you diligently seek God, he promises a reward is coming. God will give you strength, wisdom, favor, good breaks, promotion, healing, restoration. You won't be able to outrun the good things of God when you seek him with your whole heart, what's interesting about a reward is it's put in place before anyone claims it.
Right now, there are rewards for certain fugitives the money is already in a fund, just waiting for someone to step up and claim it. The only thing you have to do is find that fugitive, and then the money would be in the same way, God has a reward that's already been put in place. It's just waiting to be released. The only catch is we have to meet the demands of the reward.
Now, the amazing thing about God is he says, "You don't even have to find me. If you'll just seek me, I'll give you the reward. If you'll just make an effort to please me, if you'll just get up in the morning and thank me," if you'll just read the scripture, you may not even understand it, but God says, "That's okay. I'll give you the reward for just making the effort".
That was driving out of my neighborhood the other day, and I saw a sign on a telephone pole. It said, "Lost dog". It had a picture of the dog, and at the bottom in big letters, it read, "Reward, $500". Imagine, I went to the house, knocked on the door, said, "Hey, I've been looking for your dog the last 2 hours. I've searched this whole now I'm here for the reward". Their first question would be, "Hey, where's the dog"? "Well, sorry, I didn't find the dog, but I promise you, I've been looking". They would say, "Sir, no dog, no reward".
This is what's so great about God. He says, "I'll pay you just for looking. I'll bless you just for seeking me. I'll reward you just for coming to church. I'll show you favor just for getting up in the morning and meditating on my promises". The reward is not in having it all figured out. The reward is in the seeking. The reward is in making the effort.
My father came from a family that didn't have anything to do with God. They were good people, but he didn't have any kind of spiritual upbringing. At the age of 17, daddy gave his life to Christ, first one in the family. God called him to preach. As a teenager, he started ministering in the prisons, in the senior citizens homes, on the street corners. He didn't know anything about the bible. He'd never been to seminary. He called Job, "job".
One time, he preached a whole sermon on Samson and realized, at the end, he'd been calling him "Tarzan". He didn't have it all together, but daddy had a desire to please God. He was seeking him, making the effort. God doesn't say, "If you know all the scriptures, if you understand all the theology, I'll give you the reward". No, God says, "I'll pay you for making the effort. I'll pay you for trying. I'll pay you for seeking me".
From the time I was a little boy, my parents taught me the importance of honoring God. I wasn't perfect. I made mistakes, but for as long back as I can remember, I would get up every morning and thank God for the day and ask him for wisdom and guidance. Every day, I would read didn't always understand it. Still don't, and I'm the pastor of a big church! God hasn't blessed me because I'm the smartest, the most qualified, the most talented. God has blessed me because I've made it a goal to seek him, to honor him, to please him.
Every morning, I still get up and take the first half hour of the day to thank God for his goodness, to acknowledge him as my Savior, to ask him for wisdom. I pray every day, "Lord, let everything I do today bring honor to your name," and God has taken me places that I've never dreamed of. He's blessed our family more than I could imagine. I'd love to tell you I'm just that smart, I'm just that talented, I'm just an overachiever. No, I have done my part to develop what God's given me, but I know the promotion, the favor, the blessing has come because I've kept God first place. I've done my best to I'm asking you to do the same thing.
Make pleasing God your highest priority. Get up every morning and take time to read the scripture. All through the day, meditate on God's promises. When you have a major decision, ask God for wisdom. If you live like that, God will take you places that you've never dreamed of.
Think about David. He wasn't the biggest, strongest, most qualified. How did he make it to the palace? How did he surpass others that had more natural ability? The scripture says, "David was a man after God's own heart". David was constantly seeking God. He was always writing songs of praise, telling God how much he loved him, how much he needed him, how great God was. When you diligently seek God, you will go places that your natural ability could not have taken you.
My sister Lisa met a lady in Atlanta last week. She and her husband were in the oil business, and at one time, they'd been very successful, but over the last few years, the business had really gone down. In fact, they were about to go bankrupt. They had laid off all their employees. They were close to losing their own home. Now it was starting to affect their marriage. They weren't getting along, one thing after another.
One day they were flipping through the channels, and they saw us on television. They started listening each week. Faith began to rise in their hearts. They heard me talking about how God is a God of restoration, how he can do exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond. Those words of encouragement were like cool water it impacted them so much, they wanted to be here in person.
They lived in mississippi, but every week, they would find the cheapest airfare they could find, and they would fly to Houston on saturday and attend Lakewood, and then fly home after the service, week after week, month after month. I'm talking about diligently seeking him. It's funny. Some people won't go across the street to honor God. They're busy. They're tired. They don't want to be inconvenienced, but this from another state.
Friends, God sees every sacrifice you make. He sees when you get up in the morning to seek him. He sees when you take time to pray before you make the decisions. He sees you getting your children dressed, driving down the freeway to come to church. Your effort has not gone unnoticed. Let me assure you, a reward is coming. You cannot give God something without him giving you more back in return. You've given God your time by coming today, by watching. God is going to help you to get more done this week. Many of you gave in the offering. You spent gas money. God's going to cause what you have left over to go further than if you would've kept it all for yourself. When you seek him, he rewards you.
This couple kept flying in saturday after saturday, week after week, a journey of faith. The husband felt very strongly about drilling for oil on this certain piece of property. He drilled at the same property, again, no success, 10 times, 20 times, 30 times, 40 times. His wife said, "Honey, don't drill on this property anymore. You've already done that. Drill somewhere else". Something down in here kept telling him, "Drill right where you are". His crew thought he had lost his mind.
They thought he was far-off, but when you honor God, he will give you inside information. He'll lead you and direct you. He drilled the 46th time, nothing; 47th time, nothing, but on the 48th time, they struck oil. Today they're not struggling anymore. When they want to come see us, they don't go buy a cheap ticket. They go get on their own airplane. God has blessed them more than they can even imagine, and they are being a bigger blessing, more than they ever imagined.
Friends, when you diligently seek God, he promises a reward is coming. Many of you have been faithful. You've honored God. You've gotten up early to spend time with him. You come every time the doors are open. God is saying, "Get ready: a reward is coming". God's going to give you inside information. He's going to cause you to be at the right place at the right time. Like this couple, God has something big coming here's the key: if you don't realize God is a rewarder, then you won't expect his goodness. Faith being released. That's what allows God to do amazing things.
Well, you say, "Joel, you're saying to just serve God, just to seek him to get something from him"? No, we serve God because we love him, but I understand the nature of God. When you honor God, he says, in effect, "You don't work for me for free. I'll pay you for seeking me". Our attitude should be, "I put God first. I've done my best to please him, so I know payday is coming. I know that reward Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you".
Notice the key: in other words, don't seek the blessing. Seek the blessor. Don't be consumed by things. Don't chase after money, fame, fortune, bigger this, bigger that. Chase after God. If you will seek the blessor, then all these blessings this is where many people miss it. When we seek things, life is very shallow. We're always struggling, trying to make it happen, got to have something bigger, but when you seek the blessor and say, "God, my highest priority is to please you. Help me to honor you".
When you live that way, instead of chasing blessings, blessings will chase you, and I'm all for having goals, dreams, pursuing what God's put in our heart, but I've life, when I'm just doing my best to please God, to honor him, focused on his principles, then out of the blue, a good break, unexpected favor, I'm at the right place at the right time. I didn't have to manipulate things. I didn't have to struggle to make it happen. It was a reward. It was something God blessed me with because I was on his payroll.
I love how it says, "All these things will be added unto you," not a few things, not a half a dozen. God is a God of abundance, and when you keep him first place, you won't be able to contain all the good things that God brings across your life should not be making money. Our main mission should be honoring God. Here's what I've learned. When you honor God, the money will come. When you honor God, he'll open the right doors. He'll bring the right people. He'll cause you to be at the right place at the right time. Victoria and I have never had money as a goal. Our goal is to please God. Victoria could say she has sought the blessing, and the bling has come. All these things have been added.
Now, here's my challenge. Don't fall in love with the blessing, fall in love with the blessor. Don't be so consumed that you've got to have that bigger house, you've got to have that promotion, working night and day, trying to make it happen. No, you're not called to make money. You're called to make a difference. Sure, work hard, develop your talents, be your best, but don't chase money. Chase God. If you will seek the blessor, God will give you what money cannot buy. You can work 24/7, but you can't buy health. You can't buy strength. You can't buy a good night's rest. Seek first the kingdom, and God will reward you.
That word "Seek" is a strong word. One definition says, "To require as a vital necessity you need to see spending time with God, as being vital to living a victorious life", 'cause sometimes we get up in the morning, and we think, "I don't want to read my Bible today. I don't feel like going to church. I'm tired". But once you develop the habit and you see the benefit of how you feel refreshed and restored and how you make better decisions and how you have God's favor, then you'll think, "I can't afford not to do this. Without spending time, it just doesn't feel right".
People tell me again and again, "Joel, when I don't come to church each week, I just don't have that boost that I need". It says, "Seek first the kingdom". In other words, honor God at the start of your day. Make it a part of your routine.
Last few months of my father's life, he was on dialysis. Three times a week for 4 hours a day, he would go to the clinic to have his blood cleansed. There were times that he didn't feel like going. He was tired. He was busy, wanted to do something else. Didn't matter. He went anyway. Why? It wasn't an option. It was vital. My father loved to travel all over the world, but when he started dialysis, he had to change his plans and rearrange his priorities. He knew how important dialysis was to him.
That's the way we need to see seeking God, require it as a vital necessity. When things get busy, the children need you, it's hectic at the office, you got a thousand things to do, you got to put your foot down and say, "No, this is not an option. If I'm going to be strong, if I'm going to be productive today, if I'm going to have God's favor, then I've got to rearrange some priorities so I can spend time with God".
You may have to get up earlier before the children need you, before the e-mail goes out, before the phone starts ringing. You draw strength, encouragement, wisdom, when you're in God's presence. That's what's going to keep your life fresh, and just like we feed our physical man, we need to feed our spiritual man. Learn to invest in yourself.
Sometimes we feed the outer person three hot meals a day, but we only feed our inner person one cold snack a week. We wonder why we don't have energy and favor and wisdom and creativity. It's because we're not taking the scripture says in God's presence is fullness of joy, fullness of peace, fullness of victory. That's where you're refreshed and restored. Every day, you need to take time to read your bible. All through the day, meditate on God's promises. Put on some good praise music. Have that quiet time with just you and God.
You know, these days, hectic, so busy, but when you get alone and say, "God, I love you today. Thank you for my life, for my family, for the opportunities you've given me. Lord, I know every good thing comes from you". When you live like that, you will have fresh oil to keep your light burning brightly, and it's easy to take care of everyone else, but your first priority is to take care of yourself.
Sometimes we're always giving, taking care of the children, working overtime at the office, helping that friend that's struggling, and that's all good, but if we're not careful, we're always giving, and we end up run-down. You have to take time every day to get filled back up. When you're in God's presence like today, you're being refreshed, restored, reenergized.
Proverbs 3:6 says, "In all your ways, acknowledge God, and he will crown your efforts with success". All through the day, we should be acknowledging God, asking for his help, seeking his wisdom, thanking him for his goodness. In the morning, "Father, thank you for another beautiful day. I commit this day, my plans, my future, into your hands". You just acknowledge God. He promises he'll crown that day with success.
Driving on the freeway, "Father, thank you for getting me there safely". At the office, "Lord, help me at home, "Father, bless my children". Before you go to bed, "Lord, thank you for a good night's rest". When you're constantly acknowledging God, you're seeking him. He says, "A reward is coming". I wonder how much more of God's favor we would see if we would acknowledge God more often?
Friends, God is a gentleman. He's not going to butt into your life. You have to invite him in, not just once when you commit your life to him. I'm talking about all through the day, in all your ways, acknowledge God. Even things that we can do on our own, if you will acknowledge God, it will go better. It will be easier. At the grocery store, "Father, help me to find good deals today". In a crowded parking lot, "Lord, help me to find a parking spot". Before you play that ball game, "Lord, help my skills, my gifts, my talents, to come out to the full".
So often, we think we can only talk to God about major problems, major obstacles, but God wants to be involved in every part of our lives. That's why he said, "In all your ways, if you'll acknowledge me, if you'll put me first, I'll give you a reward". Seek, when we acknowledge God, we're showing our dependency on him. We're putting away our pride, and in humility, we're saying, "God I need you today. I'm counting on your strength, your favor". It's this attitude of dependency that God responds to. That's what causes him to show up and crown on the other hand.
When we don't ask for God's help, we're showing our self-reliance. We're saying, in effect, "God, I've got this covered today. I don't need you. I can do it on my own". That's when God will step back and take away his blessing. It doesn't mean that we won't accomplish things, but my point is this how much more could we accomplish? How much easier would it be? How much less of a headache, stress, and strain, if we had the Creator of the universe breathing in our direction? In all of your ways, learn to acknowledge God.A few years ago, one of our rabbits got out of the cage. We have this fenced-off area in our backyard, and somebody left the little gate open, and this had happened several times before, and this particular rabbit that got out was almost impossible to catch. A few months earlier he got out, and I spent over 2 1/2 hours in my backyard with my children, trying to catch this rabbit. He gets along the fence line in the bushes and runs up and down. He is so fast! I took some food out there to bribe him, and I gave him the food, but he got away before I could grab him.
Then I got my children, Jonathan and Alexandra. They got a big blanket, and I had a blanket, and we were on that fence line, very strategically closing in. Right when we threw our blankets though, he was able to get away. After 2 1/2 hours, I was so frustrated, I went in the house. About a half hour later, our daughter Alexandra, she was about 7 at that time, she caught the rabbit, but this particular morning, it was very early, and I was in my office at home, preparing my message. The children were about to go to school.
They came, running up the stairs, and said, "Daddy, daddy! The rabbit is out, and he's in the front yard!" to me, that was the worst possible news I could've received. You could've said the house was on fire, and I thought, "Okay, I can deal with that," but I did not want to deal with this stinking rabbit... I mean, this beautiful rabbit! It took me 2 1/2 hours in the backyard. I thought, man alive, in the front yard, he can run all the way down the street. We're going to be here forever. And some neighbors and our children. They were looking at the rabbit in the bushes, just as calm as can be.
This time, I decided a different approach. I thought, "I'm going to pray". I remembered proverbs 3:6. I said, "Father, you said, if I would acknowledge you in all my ways, you would crown my efforts with success, and, this rabbit. You're in complete control," and said, "God, I'm asking you to cause this rabbit to be still so I can catch him and go on about my business". You laugh, but it turns out good. I went over to that rabbit, and he turned like he's going to take off running like he always does, but for some reason, it was like something put the brakes on him. He didn't twitch. He didn't sniff. He didn't wiggle. He was frozen in his tracks. I was able to pick up that rabbit.
Listen, we've had that rabbit 6 years. I've never caught that rabbit that easily before. When I got that rabbit, he started going wild, trying to get loose. It's like God said, "Joel, I gave him to you, that rabbit was so mad, he was snarling at me like he was thinking, "How in the world did I let you catch me"? I thought, "Don't get mad at me. God did it to you".
Acknowledge God in all your ways, in big things, in little things, at home, at the office, the little league field, the grocery store. "God, I need you today. God, I recognize you're the source of my strength". He promises a reward is coming.
Proverbs 22:4, says, "The reward of true humility and fear of the lord is wealth, honor, and a long life". That's my prayer for each of favor, that you will live a long life, and that you will see all your dreams come to pass. How does this happen? By honoring God. Make pleasing God your highest priority. Get up every morning and thank God for his goodness. All through the day, acknowledge God. Keep your inner man filled up by spending time with God. See it as a vital necessity.
Remember, don't seek the blessing. Seek the blessor and the blessing will come. "All these things will be added unto you," and I believe today, because you are diligently seeking God, a reward is coming. Get ready for God's goodness. He's going to turn negative situations around. He's going to open up new doors. God's going to give you inside information. He's going to pour out his favor in ways greater than you ever imagined. God is saying, "I'm going to pay you for seeking me, with favor, with honor, and with a long, blessed, satisfied, productive, prosperous, faith-filled, healthy life". I declare it, and I believe it over each one of you.