Joel Osteen — Keep Your Vision In Front Of You
I want to talk to you today about keeping your vision in front of you. Studies tell us that we move toward what we consistently see. You need to keep something in front of you, even if it's symbolic, has promised. If you're single and have a desire to get married, put an empty photo album on your table at home. That's where you're going to put your wedding pictures. When you see it, you're moving toward it.
A friend of mine has a dream to travel the world and minister. Comes from a small town, didn't have any connections, no invitations. But he went and bought a piece of luggage, and kept it in his closet. Every time he sees it, he thanks God that he's going to open up new doors. What's happening? His faith is being increased. His vision is being enlarged. And some of you are not seeing God's best, not because you don't have the faith, the talent, the determination, but because you're not keeping the right things in front of you. If you can't see your vision, all over your house, you should have pictures up that inspire you, scripture verses that encourage you, mementos that strengthen your faith.
Maybe it's a key on your key ring for the new house you're going to buy. Somebody asks you, "What's this extra key for"? "That's for the house that's on its way". Whatever you're believing for, whatever you're dreaming about, keep something in front of you that reminds you of what we see this principle in the scripture.
When Zerubbabel wanted to rebuild the temple, he went and laid the foundation. But people came against him and forced him to stop. For 10 years, no work could be done. Zechariah the prophet came by, told him to do something interesting. He said, the headstone was the stone that was reserved as the final piece of stone for the building. It was symbolic. It represented the finished product. Why was it important that he keep the headstone in front of him? Because every time he looked at it, it reminded him that God would finish what he started.
When Zerubbabel was tempted to get tired and discouraged, he would go look at that headstone. That was God saying to him, "I'm still on the throne. I'm going to do what I promised. Just stay in faith". Let me ask you, do you have your headstone in front of you? Do you have something that represents the final piece to your dreams?
I know a couple that had a son that was not doing right. For years, he would not speak to his parents, very off-course. They went and bought a Bible, and had his name engraved on it, put it on their coffee table. That was their headstone. Every time they saw it, they thought, "He's coming back. It's just a matter of time". Today, I see that young man at our services all the time, holding up that same Bible.
My brother-in-law Kevin, Kevin is a twin. Growing up, he loved having a twin sister. That was always his dream to have twins. He and my sister Lisa tried to have a baby for many years with no success. Lisa went through all the fertility treatments, had several surgeries, but still no baby, and they were discouraged. Didn't look like it was going to happen.
One day, Kevin went out to the mailbox to get his mail. There was he noticed the return address said huggies. He thought, "That's strange, I hadn't ordered anything from huggies". He opened it up and there were two diapers in it. They were doing a promotion, sending out samples of their product. Kevin could have dismissed it, "Don't need that, don't have any babies". No, he took that as a sign from God. When he saw those two diapers, something came alive on the inside. He ran and told Lisa, "We just got the first two diapers for our new babies". He wrote the date on those diapers and put them on his desk at home.
Month after month, he saw those diapers again and again. When you see something long enough, it gets into your subconscious mind, and it eventually drops down into your spirit, where you know that you know. One day, unexpectedly, an old friend called and asked if they would be interested in adopting a baby. They said, "We sure would". She said, "Well, how about two babies? These are twin girls that are about to be born," and today, Lisa and Kevin have their twins. They're 15 years old, as beautiful as can be.
Maybe you're believing to have a baby. Why don't you go buy a baby's outfit, put it in your closet where you can see it all through the day? Keep your vision in front of you. A friend of mine was believing to have a child. She decorated her whole baby's room. She painted it, bought the bed, the stroller, spent all this time, energy, money. Her friends thought she was a little far out, preparing a baby's room with no baby on the way. But she understood this principle.
You are moving toward a year went by, no baby. Two years, three years, even ten years. She didn't get discouraged. She just kept thanking God that her baby was on the way. All through the day, when she walked by her baby's room, didn't look like anything was happening, but she was moving toward it. Some 20 years later, she gave birth not to one baby, but to two. She had twins as well.
Is there anything that you see every day that reminds you of something that inspires you, that ignites your faith? Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish". With no vision, you'll get stuck. This is the reason many people have they don't have anything in front of them that reminds them of what God has promised.
For instance, if you're believing to move into a nicer house, find a picture of the house you really want and put it on your bathroom mirror. Let that seed take root. If you're believing to go to a certain college, buy the t-shirt and wear it around. Get the coffee mug with their logo, put it on your counter. Every time you wear the shirt, see the picture, see the baby's outfit, say, "God, I want to thank you that you're bringing my dreams to pass". Let that be a reminder of what God has promised you.
I learned this principle from my father. He and my mother started Lakewood Church in 1959 in an old, rundown, abandoned feed store. They had 90 members. A few years later, my father named the church Lakewood International Outreach Center. Put a big, blue sign out front. The sign cost more than the building. The truth is they were not an International Outreach Center. They were a small neighborhood church with 90 people. But when my father drove up to that building and saw that sign, his vision was being increased.
Every week, when those 90 members saw that sign again and again, something was being birthed on the inside. Seeds of increase were taking root. Do you know what Lakewood is today? An International Outreach Center touching the world. Growing up, on his desk at home. At the old church, there was a big world map up on the wall. Daddy had a globe behind him when he spoke. He always had the world on his mind. At one conference, people came from 150 different countries. It looked like the world nations. What am I saying? What you keep in front of you, you are moving toward.
Now, let me challenge you, don't have a small vision for your life. You are not inconveniencing God by believing big. In fact, it's just the opposite. When you believe to do something great, when you believe to set a new standard for your family, when you take the limits off of God and say, "God, I don't see a way, but I know you have a way, so I'm going to believe to have these twins. I'm going to believe that my business, my charity will impact the world. I'm going to believe to be totally healthy and whole," when you believe big like that, you please God.
My father could have put on that sign Lakewood Community Church. Nothing wrong with that, but God had put something bigger in his heart. He could have looked at the circumstances, thought, "We're just 90 people. We got this old, rundown building. We don't have any influence, any money, any connections. We'll never do anything great". If he'd have thought that, we wouldn't be here today.
Listen, it doesn't matter what it looks like in the natural. He is not limited by your resources, by your education, by your background, by your nationality. If you will keep a big vision in front of you, God will not only do what you're dreaming about, but he'll supersize it. He'll do more than you can ask or think. A few years after my father went to be with the Lord, I stepped up to pastor the church. I had a desire to write a book. My father had written many books, and they were all translated into Spanish, and I had a copy of my father's most popular book in English and in Spanish on a bookshelf at home.
I kept that in front of me, knowing that one day, at the right time, I was going to write a book. My dream is that it too would be translated into Spanish, and that was really stretching my faith 'cause I never thought that I could get up here and minister, and especially never thought that I could write a book that would be translated into a year went by and had no book, no opportunity. Two years, three years, four years, and would have been easy for me to lose my passion and think that it was never going to happen. But I had my father's book on a bookshelf right outside of my closet. To get to the other places in the house, I had to pass by it. I had seen that book no doubt thousands of times. Maybe not even consciously, but subconsciously I was moving toward it.
In 2004, I wrote my first book and called it "Your best life now," and when the published read the manuscript, he called back and said, "We've decided to publish it in Spanish at the same time we publish it in English". Normally, they wait a little while to see if anybody likes the book, but that's the way our God is. His dream for your life is bigger than your own dream, and if you will stay in faith, God is going to supersize what you're believing for. My vision was that my book into Spanish. Do you know it was not only translated in Spanish, but German, French, Russian, Swahili, almost 50 other languages?
Friends, if you will keep your vision in front of you, a big vision, and not talk yourself out of it, but just keep honoring God, being your best, then what you're dreaming about. He's going to do exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond.
I saw an article in the newspaper several years ago about a man that gave a $100 million gift to a university. I cut the article out and put it on my desk. Every time I see it, I say, "God, you did it for a university. You can do it for a ministry". We could help a lot of people with an extra 100 million. If you can accomplish your dreams in your own strength, your own talent, with your own resources, then your dreams are too small. You got to enlarge your vision. Your destiny is too great, your assignment too important to have little goals, little dreams, little plans. Keep something big in front of you.
A friend of mine feeds a he and his wife sponsor orphanages and feeding programs to help one million children a day. That's what I keep in front of me. God, you did it for them. You can do it for us. God, let our family impact millions of children. In our kitchen at home, we have pictures of some of the children that we support through our partnership every time we're in the kitchen, getting a snack, eating dinner, we see those pictures. "Lord, thank you for helping us to make a difference. We're moving toward it".
"Well, Joel, I can't even imagine ever doing that. A million kids? I can't imagine being that blessed". "Don't worry, you won't be. If you don't have a vision for it, it's not going to come to pass". Now, let me encourage you. Some things seem far out, seems very unlikely, but don't ever say, "I can't imagine that". You see somebody that's really fit, really energetic. You're trying to lose some weight, "I can't even imagine looking like them". Drive through a nice neighborhood, a beautiful house, "I can't imagine living in a house like that. I can't imagine owning my own business. I can't imagine publishing a book".
Listen, you are being limited by your own imagination. You've got to change what you're seeing. Do not let the enemy paint the pictures in your mind. Use your imagination to see yourself rising higher, accomplishing your dreams, overcoming obstacles, blessed, prosperous, healthy, strong, redeemed, forgiven, well able. I don't say this arrogantly, but I can imagine my book being translated into every language. I can imagine somebody handing us that $100 million check. It feels really good. How about another one? I can imagine us touching a not only that, I can imagine you fulfilling your destiny. I can imagine you totally out of debt. I can imagine you healthy, whole, free. I can imagine you leading your company. I can imagine you living in your dream house. I can imagine you blessing the world, being a history maker, setting a new standard for your family. Now, I'm asking you to not only have it in your imagination, but keep something in front of you that reminds you of what God has promised.
I know a man, he works in the oil industry, a faithful member, always giving, serving, helping others. He started his company with just him and one assistant. It's grown and grown, and they specialize in drilling for oil. He provides the crew, the equipment. He was spending all of his time traveling to the different sites, checking on the location, on the crew, and one day, he saw a competitor of his flying in on their own company airplane. They were doing what he did, but in a fraction of the time, and God dropped a dream in his heart that, one day, he could own his own company plane.
You got to understand this was very far out for him. He grew up in a family that lived paycheck to paycheck, barely getting by. He had already broken out of the mold. But when he told his family, his relatives that he was believing to own his own company plane, they thought that he had lost his mind. They couldn't imagine it, but he could. Sometimes your family won't be your biggest cheerleaders. They may not encourage you. You've got to listen to what God's telling you and not what people are telling you.
People may try to talk you out of what God put in your heart. He went out and bought a little model of the airplane he was hoping to buy, just a $20 replica, and placed it on his desk. People would come in, say, "What's that airplane doing on your desk"? He'd say, "That's the airplane I'm going to use to fly around, check on our business".
Year after year, he kept one day, the competitor that he had seen flying around, an older gentleman, showed up unexpectedly at his office. He said, "I'm about to retire, and I'd like to sell you my airplane". Well, he had this big, beautiful airplane that held 12 people. This man was just hoping and believing for this little two-seater, a used airplane. He kind of laughed and said, "Boy, I appreciate the opportunity, but I don't have those kind of funds. I can't afford that". You don't have to put anything down. If you'll just take over the monthly payments, you can have this plane". He got this big, beautiful airplane at a fraction of its value. Today, he flies all over the world. He said, "Joel, God has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams".
Here's what I'm saying. When you keep your vision in front of you, that is your faith being released. That's why the scripture uses such strong language, "Where there's no vision, people perish". With no vision, your dreams will die. If you can't see what God's promised you, you will miss the incredible now, let me make it more practical. You probably don't need an airplane. Maybe you need to lose 30 pounds. Why don't you put a picture up on your bathroom mirror of you 30 pounds lighter? And every day when you see it, don't get depressed and think, "I wish I still looked like that". No, "Father, I want to thank you that I'm losing this weight, in shape, energetic, well able, attractive".
Let a new image take root. When my father was about to have open heart surgery, I was in the hospital room right before they were going to take him in. He asked me if I'd run home, get his tennis shoes and his jogging suit. I thought that was very strange 'cause he was about to have major heart surgery. He wasn't going to be out running anytime soon. It was going to take him weeks, if not months to recover. But my father understood this principle. When he came out of that operation, he wanted to see those tennis shoes to remind him that that was not the end, again one day. He kept those in front of him the whole time he recovered.
Daddy went on to live another 12 years or so, traveling the world, and you may not be healthy right now, but you got to keep something in front of you that says you will be healthy. Put pictures of you up in your house from a time when you were healthy. Put up scripture verses call your family in another state, tell them you're planning on coming to see them. Don't you dare plan on dying. We need you. Your family needs you. This world needs you. Make plans to live. Keep the right vision in front of you.
2 Corinthians 4:18 says, "The things that are seen are temporary". One translation indicates they are subject to change. Anything that doesn't line up with the vision God placed in your heart, you need to see that as being temporary. It is subject to change. You may be facing an illness right now. The good news is it is subject to change. God says, "I'm restoring health unto you. The number of your days I will fulfill". Let that vision take root.
You may be struggling in your finances, in debt, barely making ends meet. That is subject to change. God says you will lend and not borrow. Whatever you touch will prosper and succeed. It may look like that your dreams could never come to pass. All the odds are against you. The truth is the odds are subject to change. One touch of God's favor, he can take you from the back to the front; from working at the business to owning your own business; to being given up by medicine, like my mother, to being healthy and whole 30 years later.
Everything that doesn't line up with what God put in your heart, that child that's off-course, he's subject to change. Being lonely is subject to change. Not getting any good breaks, that's subject to change. People trying to pull you down, that is subject to change. See it as temporary. Keep what God has promised you in front of you.
This is what Abraham had to do. He'd just gone through a major disappointment. Start all over. He lost everything he had worked for. His nephew, Lot, chose the best part of the land, and he had to move on. I'm sure he was down, discouraged, thinking, "God, this isn't fair. How come this happened to me"? God said, "Abraham, look up from where you are, for all the land that you can see, I will give it to you".
Notice the principle. Whatever you can see, God will give it to you. The reason some people are stuck is they've got their head down, focused on their problems, what didn't work out, who hurt them. God is saying, "Look up from where you are". Don't sit around depressed, discouraged. Get a new vision for your life. Put some new pictures in front of you. All that you can see, God says he'll give it to you.
I read a story about a gentleman by the name of Conrad Hilton. He was the founder of the Hilton Hotels. Back in the 1930s, as a younger man, he saw a magazine article about the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City. The title was "The most famous hotel in the world". It showed these big, beautiful pictures. He had never seen anything like it before, so magnificent, so grand.
As he was reading the article, looking at the picture, God dropped the dream in his heart that one day, he would own that hotel. In the natural, at that time, it was impossible. He could barely pay his rent, just coming out of the great depression, he could have said, "God, you got the wrong person. Could never happen for me". But he was bold enough to let that seed take root. He got some scissors and he cut out the picture of the beautiful Waldorf, on his desk.
Every day, he saw that picture for a year, 5 years, 10 years. Didn't look like it would ever happen, but he was moving toward that vision. When he was in New York City, he would walk around the property, praying, believing, dreaming. Never told anybody, just letting the seed take root. Eighteen years later, he was able to purchase 250,000 shares of the Waldorf Corporation. He ended up owning the most famous hotel in the world.
Some of you today think that your dream is too big, that your difficulties are too great, it's been too long. But God is saying, "I'm still on the throne. I'm still going to bring it to pass," and just like with Mr. Hilton, if you will keep a big vision in front of you, God is going to do something big in your life. He is going to release his favor like you've never seen before. What you thought was over and done, God is still going to do. What looked impossible, like it was over your head, God is going to suddenly cause things to fall into place, giving you the influence, the connections, the favor, the wisdom.
Now, don't stop believing. Every time you see your vision, you keep thanking God that it's on its way. If you will do this, God is going to supersize whatever you're dreaming about. It's going to be bigger than you imagined. He's going to take you places you could not go on your own, opening doors that no man can shut. He's going to do what medicine cannot do. You need to get ready. Every dream, every promise, every goal God's placed in your heart, I believe and declare it will come to pass in Jesus' name.