Joel Osteen — It's Too Small
I want to talk to you today about it's too small. We all have dreams and goals, and we do our best to stretch our faith and believe that one day, get the right breaks, meet the right people, we'll see that dream come to pass. In our mind, that would be big, a great accomplishment. But what's big to us is not big to God. He created universes. He spoke worlds into existence, and God's dream for your life is so much bigger than your own.
We think, "If I could just pay my house off, that would be a dream come true". God says, "That's too small. I want to bless you so you not only pay your house off, but so you can help others pay their houses off". Or we think, "If I could just get that promotion at work and be able to run my department". God says, "That's too small. I want you to run that whole company". Or "If I could just overcome this illness. If I could just get back on my feet again, that would be so great". God says, "That's too small. You're not only going to get back on your feet, you're going to run again. You're going to feel better than you've ever felt".
See, we think ordinary, God thinks extraordinary. Whatever you're dreaming about, whatever you're believing for, God is saying it's too small. He's going to supersize it. Ephesians says God can do exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond what we think. Why don't you take the limits off of God? You may not see a way, but God has a way, and one touch of God's favor you could go on your own in a lifetime.
God did not create you to live a little life, with little dreams, little goals, little passion, little influence, little house. God thinks big. He thinks abundance. He thinks expansive. He told the Israelites, "I am bringing you into a wide land, a spacious land flowing with milk and honey". God has something bigger, something better, something more rewarding in front of you. Don't get comfortable where you are. It's easy, "Well, Joel, God's blessed me. I'm happy, I'm healthy, I have no complaints". That's good, always be grateful.
Learn to be happy where you are, but don't settle where you are. God never performs his greatest victories in the past. They're always in the future, and what God has done, the promotion, the good breaks, the favor, in God's mind that was a small thing. You haven't touched the surface of what God has in store. He's going to open doors you never dreamed would open. He's going to bring talent out of you that you didn't know you had. You're going to see explosive blessings, blessings that thrust you to a new level, and what you think is big right now, that house God blessed you with, the scholarship, the promotion, the contract, one day, you'll look back and realize that was a small thing.
In the scripture, Joseph was falsely accused and put in prison. I can imagine him praying year after year, "God, please get me out of this prison. God, you know I didn't do anything wrong". That was his dream, to one day be free. But God said, "Joseph, that's too small. You out of prison. I'm going to make you ruler over the whole nation". In a few years, when Joseph was in charge over all of Egypt, I'm sure there were nights he went outside, and looked up at the stars and thought, "God, I never dreamed you would put me here. I was just praying to get out of prison, but God, you supersized what I was dreaming about".
He realized he was thinking way too small, and like Joseph, no matter what you're praying about, whatever you're believing for, it may be big in your mind, but in God's mind, it's a small thing. "God, just help me to pay my bills. Help me to make it through this month". God says, "That's too small". He wants to bring you into overflow. He wants you to lend and not borrow. "God, I'm so lonely. Just bring somebody into my life. I don't care at this point, God, I'll take anybody". No, you may have settled, but God didn't settle. He's going to bring somebody into your life greater than you imagined, somebody that honors him, somebody that loves you, that's fun, that's talented, that's well off, that's good looking. Throw that in there too. You got to stir your faith up. The only way this is going to help is if you let the seed take root.
It's easy to think, "Well, this isn't for me today. Joel, you don't know my situation. I've been through a lot of disappointments. My dreams look impossible". No, don't talk yourself out of it. You don't have to figure it out. All you have to do is believe. Just say, "Yes, God, this is for me. I believe your plans for me are bigger than I could imagine, that you have something amazing in my future, so I'm taking the limits off of you".
When the Israelites were in slavery, they were forced to make bricks all day long, that were almost impossible to meet, and at one point, Pharaoh got upset with them and had the supervisors take away all the straw they needed for bricks. They had the same amount of quota, but they had to go find their own straw. No doubt they prayed, "God, please give us straw. God, you know these supervisors are going to get upset.
We're not going to make our quotas, they had been pushed down for so long, they had such a limited vision, when they were praying for more straw, in effect they were praying to become a better slave. God said, "That's too small. I don't want to make you a better slave. I want to bring you totally out of that bondage. I created you as the head and not the tail, the victor and not the victim". But too often, like them, we're praying to become a better slave. "God, just help me to endure this sickness. God, just give me a roof over my head and I'll be happy. God, just help me to learn to live with my depression". No, it's not your depression.
Quit praying to become a better slave. That's too small for you. God wants you to reign in life. You have seeds of greatness on the inside. You are destined to leave your mark on this generation. You have to enlarge your vision. What God has planned for you is not little, to get by, to endure, to take the leftovers, to be second class. God has a big life for you. He's bringing you into a wide land, a place of abundance, something that you've never seen. He's not going to just make you a better slave. He's going to set you totally free, free from addictions, free from sickness, free from depression, free from poverty and lack, and no matter what level you're at, no matter where you are, receive this into your spirit: it's too small. God has something better, something bigger, more influence, more creativity, more connections, more resources.
He's going to release a favor that's going to thrust you into a new level of your destiny, and the reason you feel something igniting on the inside, that stirring in your spirit is God speaking to your destiny. That's your spirit bearing witness with the greatness God's placed in you.
Isaiah 49: God was telling Isaiah about his future and all he had planned for him, how God knew him before he was formed in his mother's womb, and how he would be a great prophet, and Isaiah was so honored. He said, "Yes, God, I'll do it. Israel back together". God said in verse 6, "Isaiah, it's too small a thing for you to just restore Israel. I will make you a light to the gentiles, and help you bring salvation to the ends of the earth". Isaiah's vision was limited. He said, "God, I'll do it. I'll help my own people. No problem, that's awesome". God said, "That's too small. I've got something bigger planned. I'm going to supersize what you're thinking about. I don't want you to just help the Jews. I want you to help all of the gentiles".
In other words, Isaiah thought he could touch a nation. God was thinking nations, and sometimes, like Isaiah, our vision is limited. "God, if I can just go God, if you'd just help me get out of this old neighborhood, help me to make it to sales manager". God is saying to you what he said to Isaiah. "It's too small. Your plans, your goals, that's a part of it". But what God has planned for you, if he showed you right now, it would boggle your mind. The doors he's going to open, the places he's going to take you, the people you're going to impact is going to be much greater than you imagined.
It's too small a thing for you to just accomplish your own dreams. There are God-sized dreams you haven't even thought about. It's too small a thing for you to just go as far as your parents. God is a progressive God. He wants you to go further. He's already designed you to supersede previous generations. Don't put it on autopilot, think, "Well, I'm doing good enough". Good enough is not your destiny, it's too small a thing for you to just get out of debt. That's one part, but the next part is to be blessed with such abundance that you can be a blessing to others. Take you from glory to glory.
My encouragement, don't get stuck in this glory. There's another glory coming. If you'll keep honoring God, living with expectancy, his blessings will chase you down. The right people will show up. Doors will open for you that you never dreamed would open. God will bring talent out that you didn't know you had. He'll get you to where you're supposed to be.
In 1938 there was a 17-year-old boy selling popcorn in the Isis Theatre in Fort Worth, Texas. A dropout of high school from a very poor family, didn't look like he had much of a future. His plan was to just keep working in the Theatre. He was glad to even have a job. But God in his mercy looked down from the heavens and said, "It's too small a thing for John Osteen to spend his life working in the Theatre. I've put seeds of greatness in him. His mark on his generation".
At 17, my father gave his life to Christ and became a minister. On mother's day 1959, he started Lakewood Church in a rundown feed store with 90 members. He was happy, fulfilling his purpose, faithfully ministering to those 90 people week after week. But again God said, "That's too small a thing. I've destined you to touch nations". My father started not only traveling overseas ministering, but people from around the world began to come to Lakewood.
At one conference, there were 150 nations represented. But as a 17-year-old boy, my father thought he had hit the lottery when he got the job at the Theatre. He was thrilled. But God loves you too much to let you stay in mediocrity. God can see what you can't see. He sees potential, gifts, talents. He's already lined up an incredible life for you, and it's easy to get satisfied, "Oh, Joel, I've reached my limits. This is as good as it gets". No, God is saying, "It's too small. I've got more in store".
Don't put your stakes down. You wouldn't be alive unless God had something think about David. As a shepherd boy, he was out in the fields taking care of his father's sheep day in and day out, feeding them, protecting them, fighting off the wild animals. He was faithful. He didn't slack off. He just kept being his best. God said, "David, this is too small a thing for you. It's part of your destiny, but it's not the end of your destiny". He went out became a national hero. King Saul asked him to come work in the palace, a dream come true. I'm sure David thought, "This is it, this is fantastic. I've made it". But God did not create us to reach one level and stop.
When we think, "Oh God, thank you I've accomplished my dreams," God says, "I appreciate your thanks, but I'm not finished with you. It's too small a thing for you to stay there. I've got something bigger". In our mind, it could be huge. Just got the promotion, just moved into the Compaq Center, just met the person of my dreams. God did more than I could ask or think. The whole time, God's in the heavens saying, "You haven't seen anything yet. I'm glad you're happy, but that's a small thing".
God's idea of big is much different than our idea of big. David not only ended up serving the king, he thought, "God, wow, you've amazed me with your goodness". God said still, "It's too small a thing, David. I'm going to put one of your descendants on the throne for the next 1,000 generations". What am I saying? Is a small thing, and whatever level you're at, God has something in your future so much bigger, better, more rewarding, and God loves you too much to let you stay where you are. He's going to keep pushing you, stretching you, even at times making you uncomfortable to get you into the fullness of your destiny.
When I was in high school, during the summers, I would work at Lakewood in the mail-room, packaging my father's books, filling the orders, and shipping them out. God said, "Joel, that's fine for now, but that's too small a thing for you to stay here". After college, I came back and started the television ministry at Lakewood. I loved cameras and lighting, editing, anything that had to do and for 17 years behind the scenes, I was very fulfilled, traveled the world with my parents, did my best to make the Lakewood broadcast look as good as possible.
I thought that's how I would spend my life. But when my father went to be with the Lord in 1999, I knew I was supposed to step up and pastor the church. I felt it so strongly, but I had never ministered before. One of the first things I did was cancel my dad's national television broadcast. I thought, "I'm not going to get on television. I don't know how to minister. Nobody's going to listen to me. I would be embarrassed".
I told Victoria what I'd done that night. She said, "Joel, you need to call that man and get the airtime back. People are going to be watching all over the world to see what happens to Lakewood". She talked me into keeping that airtime. Over the next few months, I couldn't believe it, people actually listened to what I was saying. I knew there was a God of miracles. We never dreamed that the church would grow. There were about 6,000 people coming at that time, and I thought if we could just maintain what my parents had built, that would be big. But God's big is much different than our big.
The scripture says God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts. My big was to maintain. God's big was to multiply. My big was to hold on. God's big was to propel forward. Our big is to pay our bills. God's big is to be debt-free and have plenty left over. Our big is to get that promotion. God's big is to own your own company. Our big is to just make it through the illness. God's big is to come out better than you were before.
When my father went to be with the Lord, we had an 8,000 seat auditorium. It was a large church even then, but God said, "That's too small. I've got a Compaq Center in store. I've got yankee stadiums to fill up. I've got books to publish. I've got world leaders to meet". When I thought I'd reached my limits, God would come along and say, "That's good, but it's too small". I'm asking you to stir your faith up. Get ready to go where you've never been.
God told the Israelites, "You have not passed this way before". There are new mountains to climb. There are new opportunities coming your way, and where you are may be big in your mind. You feel blessed, you've reached a certain level. But in God's mind, that's too small to stay. Whatever you're dreaming about, God's going to supersize it. He's going to do more than you can ask or think. The real question is, are you ready? Are you in agreement? There's about to be a downpour of God's favor, an abundance of rain. Like a flood, it's going to thrust you where you could not go on your own.
That's what happened to a friend of mine, a Lakewood member. He grew up in a small town in Kentucky very poor. Didn't look like he would go far in life. But this young man had a dream to help others, and as a 10-year-old boy, he saw a program on television about children that didn't have food or clothing, and back then, you could sponsor a child. He was so moved, he started mowing lawns in the neighborhood to raise the money to support a child. Nobody asked him to do it. He didn't tell his parents. He just took this step of faith, and supporting one child was good, but God said, "That's too small for you. I've got something bigger," and against all odds, he was able to go to medical school, and during the summer, he would take missions trips overseas to help treat and care for needy children. Got his medical degree, started his practice.
In his spare time, he would call the suppliers and tell them what he was doing overseas. Crates of medicines, vaccines that he could ship over to the children. It began to explode. One company gave him a million pairs of children's shoes. In the last few years, our friend, Dr. Todd Price, he has helped vaccinate, free of charge, over 50 million children. Not only that, he has donated medicine, supplies, vaccines totaling over $1 billion.
As a young boy, he thought it was a big deal to sponsor one child 15 bucks. Friends, God knows how to supersize your dream. What you're believing for, it may be big to you, but it's not big to God. Now, $1 billion later, God is still saying to him, "That's too small for you. I've got something bigger".
What am I saying? No matter where you are, you haven't touched the surface of what God has in store. Why don't you take the limits off of him? "Well, Joel, this would never happen for me. I don't have the connections". You may not, but God does. You have friends in high places. "Well, I come from the wrong family. We never get any good breaks". No, you come from the right family. You're a child of the most high God. Your heavenly father owns it all. He makes streets out of gold. Start taking steps of faith. Do what you can, and God will do what you can't. Do the natural, and God will do the supernatural. He'll bring the right people. He'll give you the right breaks. He'll cause things to fall into place.
There's a young lady in the scripture named Ruth. Her husband was killed in a battle, and she and her mother-in-law, Naomi, moved to another city, and every morning, Ruth would go out into the fields and that the workers had missed. That's how they survived. They were sustained that way. It was fine for a season, but God had something better. The owner of that field, a man named Boaz, noticed Ruth. He liked her. He told his workers to leave handfuls of wheat now, when she went out in the morning, she didn't have to work nearly as hard. The wheat was right there in her path, and she could have lived that way the rest of her life, but this shows us the heart of God.
God said, "Ruth, that's too small a thing for you. I've got something bigger in store". One day, Boaz, that owner, long story short, they fell in love and got married. From that point on, Ruth never had to go pick up the leftovers again. She came into an explosive blessing. She went from working in the field to owning the field. That's God's dream for you, to bring you into overflow, to where you have more than enough.
Here's the key. Ruth was content picking up the leftovers. She didn't complain. She was faithful where she was, but she didn't settle where she was. Deep down, she knew God had something bigger, and that sustained she and Naomi for a season, but God doesn't want you to live off the leftovers. He didn't create you to constantly struggle. He created you to live an abundant life. You have royalty in your veins, and you may be there for a season, but don't let it become permanent in your thinking. That's too small for you. You have greatness on the inside. You have the favor of God. The forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you.
Now, do like Ruth, do like Dr. Price. Keep helping others. Keep being your best and you're not only going to come into your handfuls on purpose, but you're going to see these explosive blessings, where you go from working at a company to owning your company, from teaching at the school to running the school, from supporting one child to helping millions of children. Have a big vision. Make room for God to do something new.
One thing I've learned is you cannot out-dream God. God thinks big. He thinks overflow, he thinks more than enough, and whatever you're dreaming about, you need to get ready, Deuteronomy 1:11 is my prayer for you. "May the Lord God of your fathers make you 1,000 times more than you are". Can you receive it? A thousand times more creativity, a thousand times more influence, a thousand times more resources. We think, "God, if you'll just give me that $1.20 an hour raise, I'll be happy. God, if you just keep my children out of jail". God wants your children to be mighty in the land. He wants you to set a new standard for your family.
I mentioned that my dad started Lakewood if you added up everyone that came through the year to Lakewood now, it'd be over 90,000. That's 1,000 times more. Back then I couldn't comprehend it. The limits off of God. You may not see a way, but God has a way. The scripture talks about how God will give you houses that you didn't have to build. You'll reap from vineyards that you didn't plant. God knows how to line up your handfuls on purpose.
Now, don't go around praying to become a better slave. God wants to bring you totally out. He's not thinking addition; he's thinking multiplication, and if you'll keep honoring God, I believe and declare you're going to come into explosive blessings. God is bringing you into a wide land, a place of abundance, 1,000 times more than you are, in Jesus' name.