Joel Osteen — Hitting the Delete Button
I want to talk to you today about "Hitting the delete button". Our mind is like a computer. How we program it will determine how it's going to function. You can have the most expensive, powerful computer you can find, but if you put the wrong software in it, it's not going to perform up to par.
In the same way, many people are not living a victorious life, not because their hardware is defective, not because there's something wrong with them, but they've allowed their thinking to become contaminated. They start believing the lies, "I'm not talented. I don't have a good personality. I've made too many mistakes. I've reached my limits". Just like a virus can slow down a perfectly good computer, our wrong thinking can keep us from our destiny. If you're going to live in victory, you've got to know how to hit the delete button.
That thought comes, "You're just average, you're ordinary". Delete, "I'm a masterpiece, I'm one of a kind". "You've seen your best days, it's all downhill from here". Delete, "My future will be brighter than my past". "You've made too many mistakes. You're all washed up". Delete, "I'm forgiven. God's mercy is new every single morning". Some of you, if you'd just start hitting the delete button, your life would go to a new level. You can't go through the day thinking negative thoughts and expect to live in victory. Your life is going to follow your thoughts,
And Romans 12:2 says to renew your mind with God's Word. That simply means reprogram your software with what God says about you. God says, "You're blessed. You're talented. You're equipped. You're forgiven. You're more than a conqueror". All through the day, that's what should be playing in our mind. When thoughts come saying otherwise, no big deal, just hit the delete button. Don't give it the time of day.
I know this man that had a very successful company for many years. Everything was going great. Then the perfect storm hit. The economy went down, a competitor moved close by, he lost a big client. Long story short, he had to close his business. When I'd see him, he wasn't the same person. He's lost his fire, lost his enthusiasm, and those thoughts were playing over and over in his mind, "You're a failure. You let people down. You've seen your best days". I told him what I'm telling you, your software has become contaminated. You have to start deleting those thoughts that are telling you you're a failure.
See, the enemy is called the accuser of the brethren. He'll try to remind you of every mistake you've made, every disappointment, every weakness. He knows if you're against yourself, you will never fulfill your destiny. You have to delete the condemning, accusing voices. Listen, we've all made mistakes. We all have things that we wish we could do over, but the past is the past. Quit beating yourself up. You're not supposed to go around feeling wrong on the inside. Turn off the negative recording that's reminding you of everything that you're not. Delete those thoughts and put on a new recording, "I am forgiven. I am accepted and approved by almighty God. I have a bright future. I am a masterpiece".
Sometimes it's not our own thoughts that are holding us back, it's the negative things other people have spoken over us. Words are like seeds. If we dwell on them long enough, they'll take root and become a reality, and in life, there will always be people telling us what we cannot become, how we don't have what it takes, how our dreams are not going to come to pass, and too often, we latch on to the negative and we develop what the scripture calls a stronghold. That's a wrong thought that's keeping us from our destiny.
I know people that had something negative spoken over them 20 years ago and it's still impacting their life. A parent told them, "You'll never be successful". A coach said, "You're too small, you don't have what it takes". A co-worker, "You'll never break that addiction". Instead of hitting the delete button, they played it over and over. Now, it's keeping them from God's best. You need to take inventory of your thought life. What are you dwelling on? What do you believe about yourself, your family, your future? Ask yourself, "Where did these thoughts come from? Do they line up with what God says about me?".
In the Book of Genesis, in the Garden of Eden, one time God couldn't find Adam and Eve, and God said, "Adam, where are you"? Adam said, "God, we're hiding because we're naked". God answered back something interesting, he said, "Adam, who told you you were naked"? In other words, "Who told you something's wrong with you"? God immediately knew they had been listening to the wrong voices. God is saying to us today, "Who told you you're not talented? Who told you you'll never be successful? Who told you you've made too many mistakes"? You need to delete those thoughts, those are the wrong voices. They will contaminate your software.
This is what my father did. When daddy was 17 years old, he gave his life to Christ, the first one in the family. He told his parents that God had called him to preach, and he was going to go out and start ministering. The dream was birthed on the inside. His parents were cotton farmers, and they had lost everything during the great depression. Daddy grew up extremely poor, no money, no education, no future to speak of. His parents, they were good people, but they were limited by their own experiences. They said, "John, you better play it safe, and just stay here with us and pick cotton". What they were really saying was, "John, we're just average people. We don't really have what it takes. John, you're going to get out there and you might fail".
And of course, my father loved and respected his parents, but he let those words go in one ear and out the other. His attitude was, "This is where I am, but this is not who I am. I may be in defeat, but I am not defeated, I am a child of the Most High God". Day after day, he kept hitting the delete button. Those thoughts told him, "You have no future". Delete, "God's plans for me are for good, to give me a future". "You have no money". Delete, "I'm blessed, opportunity is coming my way". "You don't have the education. It's impossible, you'll never get out". Delete, delete, delete, "God is making a way, opening up doors, connecting me to the right people".
He reprogrammed his software, and he went on to touch the world. Some of you are allowing what somebody said about you to hold you back. I've learned there will always be people to try to throw water on our fire, to try to push down our dreams, some negative voice to try to keep your seeds of greatness from flourishing. You got to get good at hitting the delete button.
Listen, you are not who people say you are, you are who God says you are. That's why we start off every service by saying, "I am who God says I am". What we're really saying is, "I am not who my neighbor says I am. I am not who my cousin says I am. I am not who my critic says I am. I am who God says I am".
When the prophet Samuel came to David's house to choose the next king, David's father, Jesse, lined up very proudly all of his sons. All that is except David. Jesse didn't even bother to bring David in from the shepherd's fields. He was saying, "David's too young. He's too small. He's not talented. He doesn't have the experience. All my other sons are big, strong, impressive". But the scripture says, "God doesn't judge the way people judge. People look on the outside, God looks on the inside," and you may not be as, quote, impressive as somebody else. Don't worry about it, God put in you exactly what you need. Other people may not see it, but almighty God can see it.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission," and people may have tried to push you down, leave you out, make you feel insignificant. Let that bounce off of you like water off of a Duck's back. David's own father didn't really believe in him. He didn't even have the courtesy to go get him from the shepherd's fields to at least let Samuel take a look at him. David could've let that rejection cause him to feel inferior, intimidated, not valuable. No, David understood this principle, he knew how to hit the delete button. His father's voice came to him saying, "You're not as good as your brothers". Delete. "You're not big enough". Delete. "You're not talented". Delete. "You'll always be stuck in the shepherd's fields". Delete.
If David would've allowed his father's voice to become a stronghold, we wouldn't be talking about him today. Let me ask you, are there any viruses that are contaminating your computer? Are you allowing what people have spoken over you to hold you back? The scripture tells how we've got to pull down these strongholds. We can't stop the negative voices from coming, but we can choose whether or not we're going to dwell on them. God's given each one of us a delete button.
I talked to a man that was raised by a very negative father. His father was always putting him down, telling him what he couldn't' become, and this son, in his 20s and even through his 30s, he couldn't seem to get ahead. Life was always a struggle. He had a college degree, but he couldn't get a good job, couldn't keep a steady relationship. He told how his father's words were always playing in the back of his mind. "You'll never be successful. You don't have what it takes". Even on his death bed, his father looked at him and said, "Your brother never amounted to anything, and you won't either," last words he ever heard his father speak.
For years, he went around angry, inferior. He wouldn't take a new position. He didn't feel qualified, he was too afraid, all these bondages because of the words that were spoken over him, and we know the importance of a father's blessing, and what weight and what importance that carries, but unfortunately, some people don't receive that blessing. One day, he heard me talking about wrong mind-sets, and make sure you don't have things that are holding you back. He realized his father's words had become a stronghold. He started hitting the delete button, reprogramming his software.
Instead of, "You don't have what it takes," delete, "I'm equipped. I'm empowered. I'm well able". Instead of, "You'll never amount to anything," delete, "I will fulfill my destiny. I will become all that God's created me to be". Today, this gentleman is extremely successful, has a beautiful family, they volunteer at our services. Everything changed when he started hitting the delete button.
Maybe, like him, you didn't receive your earthly father's blessing. The good news is you have your heavenly father's blessing. Almighty God is saying to you, "You are my masterpiece. You are one of a kind. You have seeds of greatness. You are equipped, strong, talented, beautiful". That's what should be playing in our mind. No matter who tried to tell you otherwise, a parent, a friend, a coach, a neighbor, delete that and reprogram your software. You are not defective, you are not flawed. You have been fearfully and wonderfully made.
And I know some of you have been through unfair situations and people have spoken things over you that they had no business saying, and you could easily go around feeling bad, low self-esteem, low self-worth. No, don't every let what someone said or what someone did keep you from knowing who you really are. You are a child of the most high God. You have royal blood flowing through your veins. God has crowned you with his favor, and people may have tried to push you down and make you feel insignificant, but that does not change who you are. You are still the apple of God's eye. You are still his most prized possession. God still has an amazing future in front of you, and if you will hit that delete button and get rid of any strongholds, God will take what was meant for your harm and he will use it to your advantage.
The psalmist said, "Even if my father and mother forsake me, God will adopt me as his very own child". I know a lady that for many years struggled with her self-worth. Growing up, she never felt like was good enough and like she fit in, and come to find out these insecurities stemmed from being a child born out of wedlock. Her mother and father weren't married, and as a little girl, one day she saw her birth certificate, and a little box was checked that said "Not legitimate," and that phrase became engrained in her thinking. All through her childhood, her teenage years, any time she tried to move forward, those words would come up in her mind once again, "You're a mistake. Nobody even wanted you. You're not valuable".
She didn't know any better. She believed that lie. It was affecting her personality, her attitude, even her marriage. One day, she heard this truth that your worth and value doesn't come from people, it comes from almighty God. She said, "It was like something exploded on the inside". She recognized those words were holding her back in bondage, and she decided to start hitting the delete button.
When those thoughts came saying, "You're not valuable. You have no future," instead of dwelling on it and letting it depress her, she reprogrammed her software. "I'm not a mistake, I'm not an accident. God chose me to be here before the foundation of the world. I'm accepted, I'm approved, I am valuable". Her attitude was, "No matter what my birth certificate says, I know I am legitimate. Almighty God breathed his life into me". Today, she's living a blessed, free, confident life.
Make sure there are no strongholds that are keeping you back. I've learned anytime we try to move forward in faith, there will always be people trying to contaminate our software, and they may not do it on purpose, but they'll tell you what you can't do and why it's not going to work out, and my cousin tried and failed, and my grandmother died of that same disease. The negative voices will come out of the woodwork, but remember, God didn't put the promise in them, God put the promise in you. Don't let people talk you out of your destiny.
For years, while Carl Lewis was training for the olympic games, all the experts said a person would never be able to jump 30 feet in distance. The scientist had done their studies, ran all their calculations. According to their research, no one would ever be able to jump that far. A reporter asked Carl Lewis what he thought about it, and he said, "Yes, I know the experts say it can't be done, but I don't dwell on it. I know talk like that has a way of sinking down to my feet". He was saying, "If I dwell on that long enough, it's going to reprogram my software and convince me that it's impossible".
Carl hit the delete button and went out that year to jump over 30 feet and break the world record. I say this respectfully, but the experts are not always right. The experts told my mother she wouldn't be alive today. The experts told us we would never have this beautiful facility. The experts told David he could never defeat Goliath, and of course, we should stay open, listen to good advice and wise counsel, but God's ways are not our ways. Sometimes God will drop things in your heart that don't make any sense, things that go against normal logic.
Years ago, my father tried to build a new sanctuary again and again. But every time he went to get started, he felt a check in his spirit. He knew it wasn't the right time, so he waited year after year. Finally, in 1987, when Houston was in the greatest recession our city has ever seen, it was 2 weeks before Christmas, my father had just gotten out of the hospital from having open heart surgery when he heard God whisper in his ear, "Now is the time to build". All the experts said, "No way, this is the worst possible time to get started. You'll never raise the money in this economy. Plus, your health is weak. It's going to be hard on you as you recover," on and on.
My father listened to their advice, but when he left, he said, "Thanks, but no thanks". He hit the delete button. "God, you say now's the time to build, we're going to build". They went on to build that sanctuary in a little over a year, totally debt-free. I like this saying, "Faith begins with stuffing your ears full of cotton". Don't let people talk you out of it.
A college student told his professor he had an idea to start an overnight shipping company. The professor dismissed it, said, "That's not a good idea. That company would never get off the ground". The student hit the delete button and started the company anyway. He called it Federal Express. He's done pretty good. Thomas Edison invented the phonograph. He told the world it has no commercial value. Even Thomas Edison was wrong. All the experts told a young man named Emmitt Smith that at 5'9" tall, he was too small and too slow to play professional football. Emmitt grew up in a low-income family, lived in public housing. Most of the scouts said, "It's not going to work out," but Emmitt knew how to hit the delete button, and he went on to rush for more yardage than any player in NFL history. Emmitt has won three super bowls, he's in the hall of fame, plus he won "Dancing with the stars," and that's important.
What are the experts telling you that you can't do? You're too tall, too short, too young, too old, it's not a good idea? Why don't you delete all the negative voices and let almighty God be your expert? After all, he controls the universe. He knows what he put in you. He's the one that can bring your dreams to pass.
Heard a story about a young boy named Theodore Giesel. He loved to draw, had a very vivid imagination, and every spare minute he spent drawing pictures and cartoons. His dream was to become an artist and create children's books. In high school, he took his first art class. When the teacher saw his work and how it was so cartoonish and so playful, he said, "Son, you'll never be an artist. This is not your gift. This looks like child's play". Theodore dropped out of the art class, but continued to draw. He took his first children's book to a publisher, but they said the same thing. "This is not something people are going to buy, it's too cartoonish".
He went to another publisher and another. He was turned down 29 times. All the experts said, "It's not marketable". But publisher number 30 decided to take a chance. Instead of using his normal name, he chose the name Dr. Seuss, and Dr. Seuss went on to sell more children's books than any person in history.
Are the experts telling you you can't accomplish your dreams, you can't get well, you can't get out of debt, you can't go back to school? No, like Dr. Seuss, start hitting the delete button. God didn't put the dream in them, he put the dream in you. You have what you need, the talent, the strength, the wisdom, the favor to do what God has put in your own heart.
When my father went to be with the Lord and I stepped up to pastor the church, all the experts said, "He can't minister. He's never done it before. He's too young. He doesn't have the training, never been to cemetery, I mean seminary. He doesn't have that booming voice, he doesn't have that dynamic personality," on and on. Day after day, I had to hit the delete button.
I remember one time, I was in the front lobby after service, and I just finished my message. This was like the second or third time that I ministered, and I overheard these two ladies in the lobby talking. One said, "He's not nearly as good as his father". The other one said, "Yeah, there's no way this is ever going to last". Those words were like daggers. I was already intimidated, insecure, that was like the last thing that I needed to hear. But I realize now sometimes God allows things like that on purpose. Those are tests of our faith to see what we're made of.
When I heard that, something rose up on the inside, and I thought to myself, "You may not think it's going to last, but what you think doesn't really matter. I don't need your approval, I have almighty God's approval". Today, 12 years later, they're gone and I'm still here, and you know, the funny thing is I don't miss them. Start hitting the delete button. "It's not going to last," delete. "It's impossible," delete. "You don't have what it takes," delete.
Read about a gentleman named Daniel. He was born with a learning disorder. He has severe dyslexia, where he has trouble recognizing words. He can barely read, barely write. Plus, he has coordination problems. He couldn't tie his shoe or button his shirt until he was in the fifth grade. In the 1960s when he grew up, the teachers referred to him as being mentally retarded. Some of the students would make fun of him, call him names, slow, dumb, weirdo. It looked like he would sit on the sidelines of life and let that disability hold him back.
No, not Daniel, he knew how to hit the delete button. He didn't let the negative comments take root. Today, people don't all him dumb, they don't call him slow, they call him governor. Daniel Malloy is now the governor of Connecticut. He can still barely read, he says, writing is almost impossible, but just because you have a, quote, limitation, that doesn't have to keep you from your destiny.
Start hitting the delete button. You are not who people say you are, you are who God says you are. Reprogram your software. Get rid of any strongholds that are keeping you back. Friends, your life is going to follow your thoughts, and some of you have this negative recording playing over and over in your mind. I'm asking us to change the recording. Put on what God says about you. You are blessed. You are forgiven. You are talented. You are a masterpiece. Don't let any viruses contaminate your computer, and if you will be quick to hit the delete button, keep your mind filled with thoughts of faith, like David, you will overcome every negative word spoken over you. Like the governor, a limitation won't hold you back. Like Emmitt Smith, the experts won't determine your destiny, God will, and I believe and declare you will rise higher, accomplish dreams, overcome obstacles, and become everything God's created you to be.