Joel Osteen — God Will Cause You to Remain
I want to talk to you today about how "God will cause you to remain". The word "Remain" means to be fixed, immoveable, not affected by circumstances. In life, we all have ups and downs. There are seasons that are seasons of testing, trials, temptation, where our character is being developed. We're proving to God what we're made of. You may be dealing with a boss that's hard to get along with, raising a difficult child, or perhaps just when you thought you would get ahead, you had an unexpected crisis and now you had to start all over. It's like you took two steps forward and then three steps backwards.
If we're not careful, we'll think that all of life is going to be this way, up and then down, like a rollercoaster. Everything may be fine now but don't get your hopes up. It's not going to last. Something else is going to go wrong. No, God wants to bring us to a place of stability where we cannot be moved, "I am the vine, you are the branches. If you abide in me, you will bear much fruit and your fruit will remain".
God is saying if you'll just keep abiding in me, keep being your best, keep being faithful, giving, loving, serving, where life is not all ups and downs, one good break and two bad breaks. No, God will cause you to remain. In other words, God won't let you go backwards. He won't let you be defeated. The attacks may come but God has you fixed. You are stable. At one time, you would have gone in reverse but because you've been faithful year after year, you had a setback but you didn't get discouraged, people were talking about you but you stayed on the high road, your plans didn't work out but you gave God praise anyway.
Because you passed this test it's like you hit this tipping point where God says, "All right, you've done your now I'm going to do my part. I'm going to set you on high. I'm going to take you out of the enemy's reach. I'm going to hide you under my wings. I'm going to make you immoveable, unshakeable, untouchable," and yes, the enemy may do his best but his best will never be enough.
God has the final say, and when God says, "I want you to remain," all the forces of darkness cannot bring you down. No sickness, no person, no bad break, no injustice, no company will be able to take you backwards. You've come into this new season where the Creator of the universe says, "No more rollercoaster rides for you. No more two steps forward and three steps backwards. I'm establishing you. I'm setting you on high. I'm going to cause you to remain".
This is what happened to Joseph. As a young man, he was wearing the coat of many colors. He had God's favor. He was up. Threw him into a pit. He went down. He was sold into slavery and went to work for a man named Potiphar. He came back up. Potiphar's wife lied about him and had him put in prison. He went back down. He was good pharaoh put him in charge over all of Egypt. He came back up again. Year after year it was up and down, good break, bad break, promotion, setback.
But Joseph understood this principle. The whole time he just kept abiding. He didn't get bitter, he didn't start saying, "God, why is this happening to me"? He just kept passing the test and one day he hit that tipping point where God said, "All right, Joseph, you've done your part. You've proven that you're going to be faithful. I'm going to do my part. I'm going to cause you to remain because you keep abiding.
We talk a lot about the ups and downs that Joseph went through, how he kept a good attitude during tough times and that's important but what I want us to see today is Joseph came to a place where he never went back down again. God established him. God set him on high, and the same God that brought you up can keep you up. Don't get set in your thinking that life's going to be all ups and downs, one good break and one bad break. No, keep abiding. Keep being faithful and you too are going to come to that place where God not only lifts you up but God's going to keep you up.
Think about Job. He went through a lot of heartache and turmoil. He had setbacks in his health, in his finances, in his family. He practically lost everything. Job's the poster child for a difficult unfair life. You hear people talking about poor old Job but what we don't always realize is that that difficulty didn't spread out over Job's entire lifetime. Didn't last year after year. Most experts agree that that trouble lasted for a period of nine months, less than a year, and when it was over and Job came out with twice what he had before you never read about Job going through major heartache and trouble like that again.
Here's the key. In the difficulty Job he didn't start complaining. He just kept abiding. He stayed in faith, and one day God said, "All right, Job. You passed the test. I let the enemy do his best but you've proven that you will be faithful. Now, I'm going to take you out of the enemy's reach. That kind of heartache and pain is over. I'm going to set you in a place where you remain, where you cannot be touched".
And you too may have had a lot of ups and downs in life, struggles in finances, difficulties in a relationship. Maybe you've battled with depression. These difficulties have lasted year after year and you're thinking, "Is it ever going to get easier? Am I ever going to see a breakthrough"? The answer is yes. Because you keep abiding in him, just like Job, just like Joseph, you're going to come in to promotion, to restoration, to vindication, where God not only lifts you up, but God's going to keep you up.
When I took over from my parents 12 years ago, at first it was very difficult. I had never ministered before and it was a struggle to prepare a message and to learn how to get up and speak in front of people and then the church began to grow and we needed a larger facility and we set out on our 3-year journey to try to acquire this place, the former compaq center. It was up and down, a victory and a defeat. Just when we thought we had won the battle, a company filed another lawsuit to try to keep us from moving in. We had to start all over, and with the growth came more notoriety.
More people were watching. That's both a blessing and a burden. Means there's more scrutiny, more criticism, more people examining every decision. For the first 10 years or so I was just fighting the good fight, growing, stretching, doing my best it was a struggle. But about 2 years ago, I remember it like yesterday, I felt this weight lift off of me. It wasn't anything bad. It was just an underlying pressure of what's going to happen next? Is it going to work out? Are the funds going to come in? What are people saying?
It was like I stepped into a place where God said, "All right, Joel, you've been faithful, you've passed the test. Yes, you've had ups and downs, people for you and against you, but I'm bringing you into a place of stability where you are out of the enemy's reach, where you cannot go backwards.
David said in psalm 27, "In the day of trouble God will hide me in his shelter. He will set me out of reach high upon a rock," faithful you will come to the place where God will make you untouchable, invisible to the enemy. He will hide you away. You'll have a strength, a confidence, a rest, a knowing, greater than you've ever had before. Challenges may come your way but you're not worried about it. You know it can't touch you.
No weapon formed against you can prosper. People may be talking, trying to make you look bad, but you don't give it the time of day. You know your future is too bright to be distracted. You know they don't control your destiny, God does. So you just keep on being your best, walking in integrity, and almighty God will establish you. It doesn't mean that we won't have challenges, and certainly attacks will come, but it's no big deal. We know that God will take care of our enemies.
Many of you today are about to come into this place where God is going to cause you to remain. Because you keep abiding in him you're not going to have to face the same struggles that have dogged you year after year. You're not going to have to deal with the same challenges that have the sickness, the depression, the addiction, the barely getting by, the bad breaks.
God is saying to you what he said to Moses in Exodus 14:13: "The enemy that you see today you will see no more". That addiction that's side-tracked you for so long is about to be broken. You will see it no more. That sickness, that depression that you thought would never go away is about to come to an end. You will see it no more. That legal problem, that conflict, is not going to last forever.
You need to look at the enemies in your life and the things that are holding you back, the struggle, the lack, the unfair circumstances, and instead of thinking, "Oh, man, this is never going to change. Just more of the same". No, have a new perspective. Look at those challenges and say, "Goodbye, so long, adios. The Creator of the universe is setting me on high. He's making me untouchable. He's taking me out of the enemy's reach". Have that attitude, it goes on to say: "You won't have to lift one finger in your defense for the Lord your God.
I have a friend that's struggled with an addiction for a long time, for many years. In high school, he got mixed up with the wrong crowd and some 20 years later he was still addicted, and he's a good man, has a good family. He's gone through a lot of counseling, different treatment centers, with no success, and I've prayed for him here at the altar several times. He could have easily just given up, thought, "Well, this is just my lot in life. It's never going to change".
Very often we settle for less than God's best. When it's not happening on our timetable and we don't see anything changing, and to quit believing, to quit trying. But not this young man. He was determined. He had a made up mind, and even though he would fall, he would get back up again and again. About 2 years ago, he told me how after being addicted for 21 years, I congratulated him and I asked him how he did it.
I thought maybe he went through some kind of special treatment program. But he said, "Joel, I didn't do anything new. In fact, I can't really put my finger on it. It's just like something broke on the inside. All of a sudden, I didn't have the desire anymore. I had a strength that I'd never felt". What's interesting is in years past he could stop for 2 or 3 weeks but then he would crave that drug so strongly he would always go back to it. He couldn't resist the temptation. But he said, "This time, I'm not even tempted by it anymore. It's not even a struggle". That's God establishing him. That's God taking him out of the enemy's reach.
You may fall, you may have some setbacks but if you'll just keep getting back up, one day the God that helped you up is going to keep you up. You're going to hit that tipping point where God's going to cause you to remain. You may have enemies that you've dealt with and they've held you back for a long time. But the good news is those enemies are not permanent. That addiction is not going to defeat you all of your life. It's coming to an end. That struggle, that barely getting by, never having enough, that lack is not going to dog you all of your days. Don't accept it as the norm. You keep abiding and it's just a matter of time, God promises one day you will see that enemy no more.
I know a young lady. She's a single parent mother and really sharp girl and she's got her college degree and she's working hard and raising her family, doing her best to provide a living. But she's always struggled in her finances. At the end of every month, she would barely have enough to pay her bills, to take her children on vacation but every time she saved up extra funds, something would break that would have to be fixed. It was like she just couldn't get ahead.
But again, she didn't get discouraged. She didn't start complaining. She just kept being faithful, kept being productive, kept honoring God. She's one of our faithful volunteers. I see her here all the time, giving, serving, helping others. What's she doing? Abiding. God says, "When you abide in me, you will bear much fruit. Not only that, your fruit will remain". That means not temporary favor but permanent favor. Not a season of blessing, but a lifetime of blessing. Because you keep abiding in him, God won't let you live a life of constant struggle.
About 4 years ago, her supervisor at work unexpectedly took an early retirement and she was given that position. With that position, came an incredible increase in her salary. About a month ago, she told me how one of the vice-presidents of their company suddenly resigned and she was given that position. She said, "Joel, now I'm making more than ten times what I made when I first started". Today, she doesn't live under that constant pressure. She has more than enough. She can take vacations whenever she wants to plus she supports another single-parent family.
That's what God wants to do for you. He wants to set you on high. You may be in tough times, you may be struggling, but don't let that spirit of lack get on the inside. That is not who you are. You're a child of the Most High God. God has much fruit for you to bear. He has an abundance in store for you, and if you will be your best right where you are and be faithful with what you have, then you're going to come in not to a temporary season but to a permanent place where that enemy of lack you will see no more. It won't be up and down, barely get by. You need to wave goodbye to those days.
It says in deuteronomy: "God is bringing you into a good land. A land with no shortage, where you will lack nothing". You may have some lack in your life right now not where you're staying. God's bringing you into a land with no lack, with no shortage, no defeat, no mediocrity, where you will have more than enough, where you can be a blessing to others. Not two steps forward, three steps backwards. No, God's going to lift you up and he's going to keep you up. He's going to cause you to remain.
Friends, God controls the whole universe. Like with this young lady, God can move somebody out of the way so that you can have that position. Quit worrying about who's in front of you. God knows how to get you to where he wants you to be. Promotion doesn't come from people. Promotion comes I know this man who's kind of upset because his boss was really against him. He was always trying to make him look bad and would never give him any kind of credit, any kind of recognition.
The truth is his boss was jealous of him. He was afraid he might get promoted over him. But this man working under God, not working under people. Several promotions that he should have received because of this unfair boss and his tainted views toward him, he was passed over. But one day the CEO of the large corporation was in town and this man had to make a sales presentation, and the CEO was very impressed with his work. About a year later, a position became available that should have gone to his boss but the CEO bypassed his boss and called him directly today, instead of having to work for the unfair boss, the tables have turned. The boss is working for him.
One touch of God's favor and you'll go from the back to the front, from the tail to the head, from the employee to the employer. Keep abiding, keep being faithful, stay on that high road, and you won't have to lift one finger in your defense for the Lord will fight your battles. God will make your wrongs right. God will get you to where he wants you to be and God knows not only how to lift you up, God knows how to keep you up.
This is what happened to a man in the scripture by the name of Hezekiah. This enemy was coming against him, causing him all kinds of trouble, trying to keep him from his destiny. But again, Hezekiah didn't get all upset and worried and complaining. He just kept abiding, kept being faithful, in 2 kings 19, God said, "Hezekiah, I myself will come against this enemy. He will receive word that he's needed at home and I will cause him to want to return and he will be defeated.
Notice, when you abide in him the Creator of the universe says, "I myself will come against your enemies. I myself will come against that sickness. I myself will come against those that oppose you". It says God caused his enemy to want to do something. God can cause that unfair boss to take an early retirement. God can cause that neighbor that's giving you so much trouble to decide to pack up and move to another subdivision, not mine.
Lord, God can cause that classmate that's saying derogatory things about you to suddenly be transferred to another school. God is in complete control. Not just of your life. God is even in control of your enemies, and yes, there may be a few ups and downs but what I want us to get in our spirit today is God is bringing you into a place where he's going to set you on high, where he's going to take care of your enemies.
When it's all said and done, you will never be the victim. He will always cause receive that into your spirit. I know some of you, you've been doing the right thing for a long time, faithful year after year, but you haven't seen much progress and not much is going your way. But let me encourage you. Your time is coming. Decision, every sacrifice, every injustice and, at some point, you will come out of the test and into the reward.
Scripture talks about if you just keep doing the right thing, then payday is coming. Now you can't get stuck in a rut, thinking it's never going to change. If you accept the fact that life is always going to be ups and downs, it will limit what God can do in your life. You may have some bad breaks but you've got to learn to just shake it off.
It's like this man I heard about. He was going skydiving for his first time, and the instructor said, "There's only three things you need to remember. Number one, when you jump, pull the ripcord for your parachute. Number two, if it doesn't open, pull the emergency ripcord, and number three, the truck you up when you land". He jumped out of the plane so excited and he pulled the first ripcord, and the parachute didn't open. He frantically pulled his emergency ripcord and that parachute didn't open. He said, "Oh, great, and with my luck, the truck probably won't even be there to pick me up".
But when we have bad breaks, it's easy to expect more of the same. You've got to learn to just shake that off. Things may come against you but it's not over until God says it's over. Our attitude should be, "I may be down but I'm coming up. This difficulty didn't come to stay, it came to pass. It's not my final destination. God's bringing me into a good land. I know one day this difficulty I will see no more".
2 Chronicles chapter 14, there was a king named Asa. It talks about how king Asa did what was pleasing in the Lord's sight. He removed all of the idols and he encouraged the people to worship God. He lived by example a life of faith and integrity and honored God with his life, and up to that point the people of Judah had fought battle after battle. They were constantly on edge, struggling, working, fighting off this enemy, and then another.
And honored God in a greater way and got rid of the things that were displeasing, the scripture says that "No one tried to make war against king Asa for the Lord was giving him rest from his enemies". And, like king Asa, you get rid of anything that's displeasing, wrong attitude, wrong friends, bad habits, if you will honor God with your life, you will come to a place where God will give you rest from your enemies. It says no one came against him.
Some of you have struggled in your finances for many years but receive this into your spirit. God is going to give you rest from that enemy of lack. Because you've abided in him, God has much fruit coming your way. He has an abundance in store. You may have struggled with a sickness for a long time. You've just learned but take heart today. God is saying he is going to give you rest from that enemy.
It is not permanent. Don't believe those lies that are telling you, "I'm never going to get better. I'm never going to get well. I'll never overcome this problem". No, the Creator of the universe is going to give you rest from everything that's holding you back. Let me declare it. Rest from depression. Rest from sickness and disease. Rest from addictions and bad habits. You need to get up every day and say, "Father, thank you that this sickness is not going to defeat me. You're giving me rest. Father, thank you that these addictions are not going to ruin my life. You're giving me rest. Lord, thank you that this is not going to last forever. You promise to give me rest".
The scripture says: "His yoke is easy and his burden is light". God doesn't want you to go through life, constantly struggling, always burdened down, fighting against something. Yes, you may have seasons that are more difficult where you have to really stand strong but don't settle there and accept that as the way it's always going to be. No, God is bringing you into a good land, a land with no shortage, not two steps forward no, keep abiding, keep being faithful, and you're going to hit that tipping point where God says, "All right, that's enough. They passed the test. That's my son, that's my daughter, I'm going to cause them to remain".
God's not only going to lift you up, he's going to keep you up. He's going to make you immoveable, untouchable to the enemy. Struggled in a certain area for a long time, but remember what God said to Moses. He's saying it to you: "The enemy you see today you will see no more". God is doing a new thing. I believe even right now, chains are being loosed and bondages are being broken. Setbacks are going to turn around to being comebacks. If you'll just keep abiding in him, you're not going to have to lift one finger in your defense. God is going to give you rest from your enemies. And I believe and declare you will fulfill your destiny and you will become everything that God's created you to be, amen.