Joel Osteen — Making Room For Increase
I want to talk to you today about making room for increase. Before we see increase on the outside, we have to make room for it on the inside. If you have a small vision, you will have a small life. If you think you've reached your limits and you'll never get out of debt, you've gone as far as your parents, that's going to keep you from God's best.
Jesus said, "You can't put new wine into old wine skins". A wine skin was a leather container. When it got old, it would become hard and rigid, not able to expand, and if you put new wine into it, when the wine expanded, it would burst the wine skin. God is saying you're not going to see increase if you're stuck in old ways of thinking. If you think you'll never get out of debt, then you won't. If you think your obstacles are too big, then they are.
You are setting the limits to your life with your thinking. You've got to give God permission to increase you. You got to stretch your faith. God has unlimited supplies. The only thing that limits him is our ability to receive. If I had 1,000 gallons of water to give you, but you only had a 1-gallon container, the problem is not with the supply, it's with your ability to receive. If you'd get rid of the small container and get something larger, I could give you much more.
It's the same principle with God. If we think, "The economy's too down. I could never afford that house I really want. My business will never expand. I don't have the funding. I don't have the people behind me". No, you've got to get rid of that one-gallon bucket. Get rid of that small container. The God we serve is a big God. He has an ocean, an unlimited supply, and Jesus said, "According to your faith it will be done unto you". It's not according to God. God has all the power, all the resources in the world. It's according to what we believe.
2 Kings, there's the story about a widow. Her husband has died and she doesn't have money to pay her bills. Now, the creditors are coming to take her sons as payment. The only thing she has of any value is a small pot of oil to cook with. The prophet Elisha showed up at her house and told her to do something that seemed strange. He said, "Go out to the neighbors and borrow as many of these big, empty pots that hold oil that you can possibly find". He said specifically, "Borrow not a few. Get as many as you can". He was saying, in effect, "Don't shortchange yourself. Make room for abundance".
She went out, and I could imagine she found five or six of these big, empty pots. When she came home, Elisha told her to pour her oil into one of the empty containers. It looked like she would just transfer it from one container to the other, but the scripture says her oil never ran out. She kept pouring and pouring. God supernaturally multiplied it until all of those containers were completely filled.
Here's my point, she was the one that determined how much oil she would have. If she'd have borrowed one container, she'd have had one full. If she'd have borrowed ten, she'd have ten full. If she'd have borrowed 50, she'd have had 50 full. It wasn't up to God how much she increased, God has unlimited supplies. It was up to her. That's why the prophet said, "Borrow not a few".
My question today, how many containers are you borrowing? What kind of vision do you have for your life? Some people have a barely get by container. They think, "Oh man, business is so slow. I'm hoping to just make it through this year". They've got a tiny, little container. God says, "All right, I'll fill your barely get by container".
Some of you, like this lady, you got five or six containers. You're believing to pay your bills, feed your family, have a little bit left over. That's good, God will fill those containers. But some of you have been coming to Lakewood. You are dangerous. You've got radical faith. You don't have one, you don't have five, you're calling home depot, "I need a couple thousand empty containers". You know God can do exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond. You know he's El-Shaddai, the God of more than enough. You're making room for far and beyond favor. You're positioning yourself under the open windows of heaven.
God is saying, "You need to get ready, I'm going to fill your containers". It may not have happened in the past, but God has favor in your future. He has new opportunities, good breaks, blessings that will chase you down. You may not see how this could happen, but God has 1,000 ways to increase you that you've never thought of. God has explosive blessings, blessings that can thrust you years ahead.
Like this woman, God wants to bless you beyond your normal income, beyond your salary, beyond your retirement. God can give you one good break, one promotion, one idea, one inheritance, and all those containers are filled to overflowing. Now, make sure you don't short change yourself. God is saying, "Borrow not a few". Don't have a narrow, limited vision. You may not see how it can happen, but that's not your job, your job is to believe.
I know a man that was believing to pay his house off. It was a standard 30-year mortgage and he had 23 years left. In the natural, there was no way he could do it. All the circumstances said it would take him years and years. But he was bold enough to do what I'm asking us to do. Instead of thinking, "This is impossible, there's no way. It's going to take me 23 years". No, he'd go around saying, "Father, I want to thank you that you're Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord my provider. I know my job is not my source, you are my source. It may look impossible, but I know you can do the impossible".
He borrowed not a few containers, but many containers. Several years ago, he received an inheritance from a family member that he had never met before. He didn't even know they were related. He was able to not only pay his house off, but he paid a friend's house off as well. What was that? Explosive blessings. My prayer, "God, give us relatives like that".
Well, you say, "Joel, I don't think I should focus on what God can do for me. That wouldn't be right, that'd be selfish". Listen to psalm 35, "Let them say continually, 'let the Lord be magnified who takes pleasure in the prosperity of his children.'" They were supposed to go around saying continually, "Let God be magnified, he takes pleasure in prospering me". I believe one reason they were supposed to say it all the time is so it would get down on the inside.
When we hear something long enough, we start to believe it, starts to affect our vision. Now, I wonder what would happen if all through the day, instead of dwelling on these negative defeated thoughts, like, "I'll never get out of debt. My business will never expand. How can I send my children to college? It's so expensive," no, zip that up and start dwelling on, "God takes pleasure in prospering me. Good breaks are in my future. Explosive blessings are coming my way".
I have some friends that bought property out in the country, and they've had it for years and years, and they hardly paid anything for it, it's out in the middle of nowhere, and a while back, they got informed that the state was putting a new freeway that would go right through their property. They not only sold part of that for a substantial profit, but now they have several developers bidding on the rest of it because they're going to have so much freeway frontage. Overnight, that property went from being worth hardly anything to being extremely valuable. That one good break put that family at a new level.
The apostle Paul talks about this. He said in Ephesians 2:7, "In the ages to come, we would see the unlimited, immeasurable, surpassing greatness of God's favor". We need to start believing for this far and beyond favor. Don't go around expecting the same thing the same way year after year. Where you are is not where you're supposed to stay. God has new levels, get a bigger vision.
It's like this man I heard about, he was out fishing one day, and he noticed a man on the other side of the bank fishing as well, and every time this other man caught a big fish, he would throw it back in the water. But when he caught small fish, he would keep them. This went on all day. He became so curious, he finally went over to the man, said, "I don't mean to be nosey, but I can't help but notice you throw back all the big fish and you keep all the small fish. Why is that"? The man said, "Oh, that's easy. All I have is a 10-inch frying pan".
It's sad to say, but there are a lot of people like that today. Instead of making room for increase, instead of believing that God can do something bigger, they go around with this 10-inch frying pan. It's been in their family for generations. Mama used that frying pan, great granddaddy used that frying pan. It's an attitude that says, "I could never afford that nice house. I could never attend that college. We'll never be that successful. We always struggle. We're just 10-inch frying pan people".
That's the way my father was raised. All he was exposed to was poverty, lack, defeat, mediocrity. In high school, he got the Christmas Basket that went to the poorest family in the school. When he was growing up, all he could afford to drink was something called blue John Milk, real cheap milk, half milk and half water. My father couldn't stand it, and to make matters worse, his name was John, thought, "Why do they have to name it my name, blue John? Why didn't they name it blue Bill, blue Mark, blue Leroy"?
He was tempted to think that was his lot in life. Every circumstance said he had a 10-inch frying pan. But when he was 17 years old, he gave his life to Christ, and something rose up on the inside, a boldness, a faith, a confidence that said, "My children will never be raised in the defeat that I was raised in". What was he doing? Getting rid of his 10-inch frying pan. He went on to live a blessed, abundant, victorious life.
No matter what environment you were raised in, no matter what may be trying to push you down or hold you back, God is saying, "I created you as the head and not the tail. I made you to lend and not borrow. I take pleasure in prospering you".
Friends, God has some big fish in your future. Do yourself a favor, get rid of that 10-inch frying pan. Who says you can't rise out of that limited environment? Who says that you'll never own that home that you really want? Who says you can't send your children to a great college? Who says you'll never get out of debt, you'll never meet the right person, you'll never start that business? All it takes is one touch of God's favor. Get into agreement with him. God has explosive blessings in your future, blessings that will thrust you years ahead.
2 Peter says, "To God, 1,000 years is like one day, and one day is like 1,000 years". I heard somebody say, "If you will stay in faith, God can take 1,000 years of blessing and release it in one day". Are you bold enough to dare say, "God, I'm asking you to release any blessings that my ancestors may have missed out on"? "Well, Joel, that's kind of far out".
I know this couple, they bought a house in another state, and several months later they got a certified letter letting them know that a company had discovered oil under the whole neighborhood, and they were offered an incredible contract not to sell their property, but to just let that company come and drill on a part of the property. Then they got a commission off of all 1,200 homes in that neighborhood. That was years of blessing being released in one day.
"Well, that would never happen for me. I never get any good breaks". You're right, it's not going to happen for you. Why? A 10-inch frying pan. I'm asking you to enlarge your vision, believe that you can rise higher, and not only accomplish your dreams, not only pay off your house, but believe that you can pay off somebody else's house. Believe that you can build an orphanage somewhere. Believe that you can further the kingdom in a greater way.
The God we serve is not a barely get by God. He's not a hold on till we make it to the sweet by and by. He is a more than enough God, a running over God, an exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond God, and the scripture talks about how God has blessings stored up for those that honor him. God has contracts, houses, ideas, good breaks that already have your name on them. They've been stored up for you.
Now, how do you see them released? Number one, by honoring God, by keeping him first place, and then number two, by making room for it in your thinking. You've got to believe that something big is in your future, and when you take the limits off of God and say, "God, I don't see how this could happen in the natural, but I know you are a supernatural God. I know you have blessings that already have my name on it, so Lord, I just want to thank you for your far and beyond favor," you live like that and you will see God amaze you with his goodness, and it's time for us as God's people to rise up as the head and not the tail.
It's time for us to rise up, and lend and not borrow. We are not supposed to be second class and kind of just take all the leftovers. We are children of the most high God, and in the coming days, there is going to be a transfer of wealth, a shifting of large amounts of resources into God's people's hands, and if you will be faithful with what you have and prove to God that you can be trusted to further his kingdom, then you're going to be a part of this transfer. You're going to see unusual increase.
And that's what this beautiful facility is. When they built it back in the early 1970s, they thought they were just building it as a sports arena. They didn't realize they were building it for Lakewood Church. It already had our name on it. This is a part of that transfer. For years, Lakewood was on the other side of town, and we started off in small wooden buildings, the original feed store. Then we went to metal buildings, and they were all right, but you could see people kind of look down on you, see you as second class.
But one day, we came into an explosive blessing. We saw the surpassing greatness of God's favor. Now, we're in one of the premiere facilities in all the world. That's what God's doing, he's stepping it up a notch. You need to get ready, there are buildings that have your name on it. There are contracts and good breaks, promotion, ideas almighty God has stored up for you. Now, do your part and make room for it in your thinking.
Victoria and I can look back over our life and see time and time again blessings God had stored up for us. All we did was dare to believe for big things. We got rid of our 10-inch frying pan. We didn't listen to all the negative voices that tried to talk us out of it. We didn't get discouraged when we didn't see anything happening. We just kept making room for it in our thinking, and we've seen God's blessings chase us down, and when you have a big vision, you honor God with your life, you won't be able to outrun the good things God has in store.
It's what happened to a friend of mine. He's a member of Lakewood, and about 10 years ago, he started his business with just one employee, himself. Today, he has a whole floor in a downtown office, and recently, he was awarded a contract to build one of the biggest refineries in the world, a multi-billion-dollar contract from China.
He told how he was the least likely one to receive it. The other companies that were bidding were bigger, more qualified, more experienced. Some of them had been in business for decades and decades, yet somehow God caused his company to stand out. Now, he's seen as one of the leaders in the field. That's a part of this transfer, and just like him, God can cause contracts to come your way. He can cause you to stand out.
In the natural, you may feel the least likely, but with the blessing of God on your life, the odds dramatically change. You and God are a majority, and you need to get ready, there's going to be an explosion of God's goodness. It's going to be far and beyond anything you've ever seen before.
What is that? It's what Paul talked about, the unlimited, immeasurable, surpassing greatness of God's favor. Here's how proverbs 13:22 puts it, "The wealth of the ungodly will eventually find its way into the hands of the righteous for whom it has been laid up for".
Notice God has already laid up contracts, houses, businesses, promotions, good breaks. They already have your name on them, and if you'll keep honoring God, making room for it, then eventually they will find their way into your hands, the hands of the righteous. That means right now, something is looking for you. Not bad breaks, not disappointments, not lack, not mediocrity. You are the righteous, increase is looking for you, favor is looking for you, good breaks are looking for you.
My question, are you making room for it? Are you gathering up enough empty containers to receive it? You got to take the limits off of God. Get rid of any old wine skins that are telling you, "You've gone as far as you can. You never get any good breaks. This sounds good today, but this is not for you, this is for everybody else. You made too many mistakes. You come from the wrong family".
There will always be voices that try to talk you out of it. When you look at it in the natural, your own thoughts may tell you, "It's impossible, there's no way". But this is what faith is all about. You have to believe it before you see it. You've got to go around knowing that almighty God put something on you. You have an advantage, it's his favor. It causes you to stand out. It causes people to be good to you. It puts you at the right place at the right time. It may look impossible, but don't ever rule out the favor of God.
Isaiah said, "Arise, shine, for the glory of the Lord is upon you". It doesn't say that it's going to come on you one day, maybe when the economy gets better, when you graduate from college, when you get that good break. No, it says God's glory is already on you, and the word "Glory" in the original language indicates God's favor, God's blessing, and God's splendor is on you in a heavy way.
It indicates wait, and if you're going to make room for increase, you have to have the right image. You are not less than, intimidated, weak. You are heavy with God's favor. You are dripping with God's goodness. Our attitude should be, "There's no telling what's in my future. I am weighted down not with burdens, not with problems. I am weighted down with the favor of God," and when you really understand that you are heavy with favor, then it's easy to be heavy with expectation. It's easy to believe for big things when you know God has favored you in a big way.
There's a couple that attends Lakewood, and they were believing to have a child for a long time with no success, and the lady finally became pregnant with triplets. They were very excited, very grateful, but she had complications during the pregnancy and had to be admitted to the hospital. When the babies were born, they were very premature. They had to stay in the hospital for nearly 6 months.
The doctors weren't even sure they were going to make it. But with much prayer and God's goodness and great care, eventually they were able to go home healthy and whole, and these parents had insurance for part of the medical cost, but not all of it. About 3 months later, they got a bill from the hospital for $2 million. They didn't know how they could pay that. Looked like they could be paying that off their whole lifetime.
They didn't get discouraged, they didn't start complaining. Their attitude was, "God, our life is in your hands. You've given us these beautiful babies, we know you can make a way where there is no way". They stayed in faith. When the lady was in the hospital and wasn't able to attend our services, they would always send their tithes and offerings in. Faithful people honoring God didn't want to miss an opportunity to give.
One day, the administrator of the hospital called, said, "We've never done this before, but we've decided to cancel your $2 million debt". You know what that was? Heavy favor. That was the surpassing greatness of God's power. I'm asking you to believe for some of these explosive blessings. Stretch your faith. Not just making room for God to get you through this year, God to help you survive, God wants to catapult you to a new level. Like this couple, one good break and you're totally out of debt. One person and your career takes off. One touch of God's favor and you're 50 years down the road.
Now, don't go around thinking, "Well, this never happens for me. I never get any good breaks". No, all through the day, "Father, I know you take pleasure in prospering me. I know I'm heavy with your favor. You told the widow to borrow not a few, so God, I take the limits off of you, and I make room for you to do something big in my life. I arise, shine. I know your glory is upon me".
You have that kind of attitude and you won't be able to outrun God's goodness, and when I look out at you today, not with my physical eyes, but through my eyes of faith, can I tell you you are heavy? Not heavy with problems, not heavy with burdens, you are heavy with God's favor. You are dripping with God's goodness.
Now, if you happen to have come in here with a 10-inch frying pan, do me a favor, drop it off at the door before you leave. We'll take it back to Wall-Mart for you. You go out of here with a big vision, take the limits off of God. If you will make room for his increase, then I believe and declare you're going to see explosive blessings, far and beyond favor. You will accomplish your dreams, overcome your obstacles, and become everything God's created you to be in Jesus' name.