Joel Osteen — One More Time
I want to talk to you today about one more time. When God laid out the plan for your life, it wasn't dependent on you never making a mistake. He didn't say, "Here's my best plan. Now, if you perform perfectly, if you never make a wrong turn, never lose your temper, never give in to temptation, then I'll bless you, I'll guide you, I'll protect you". No, God knew every wrong turn that you would make. Jesus told Peter, "You'll deny me three times before the rooster crows tonight". He already knew that Peter wouldn't be there when he needed him the most.
Nothing you've done is a surprise to God. The good news is God has already lined up mercy for every mistake. Romans 5 says, "Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound". In other words, God's mercy will always supersede any mistake. If sin abounds at a level 5, mercy will show up at level 50. If sin abounds at level 50, mercy will show up at level 500. Looking at some of you, I better take it one more step. If sin abounds at level 500, mercy shows up at 5,000.
"Well, Joel, I've made a lot of mistakes. I got away from God, started running with the wrong crowd. I was unfaithful in a relationship. I wasn't honest in some business dealings. I blew it big time". Let me help you out, God has bigger time mercy. It supersedes every failure, every weakness, every mistake.
I was talking to a man last week, he was so down on himself, telling me all the things that he had done wrong, on and on. He ended by saying, "I blew God's plan for my life". I'll tell you what I told him, you're not that powerful. You think your mistake can stop what the creator of the universe has destined you to do? You think your weaknesses, your shortcomings, your failures can undo what the most high God ordained for you before you were formed in your mother's womb?
The scripture says, "God's calling on your life is irrevocable," that means God never disqualifies us. If that mistake, that weakness was going to keep you from your destiny, God would have never permitted it. It may have taken you a different route than you expected, but God knows what he's doing. He can still get you to your final destination. Psalm 37 says, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, though he falls, he will not be destroyed, for the Lord upholds him with his hand".
Notice, even though God is directing our steps, there will be times that we fall, we don't perform perfectly, we lose our temper, we make a poor choice. God promises that it is not the end, that failure is not the end. The addiction is not the end. The divorce is not the end, why? God is holding you in the palm of his hand. He's not going to let you go. Now, if you fall down, the key is don't stay down. Don't wallow around in guilt. Don't go through life feeling wrong on the inside, thinking that you got to pay God back for your mistakes. No, the price has already been paid 2,000 years ago. Learn to receive God's mercy. Start believing that he's going to be good to you one more time.
2 Chronicles chapter 33, there was a king named Manasseh. He was the most wicked king that ever ruled Israel. He rebuilt the pagan shrines that his father Hezekiah had torn down. In the temple that Solomon built, where David said, "Only Jehovah will be worshiped here," he made statues of the God Baal, put it up and they all bowed down and worshiped. For 55 years, he did all kinds of evil. One day, the syrian army overtook the city and they captured king Manasseh. He was headed to Babylon, the most powerful empire of that day, looked like his life was over, looked like he was getting what he deserved.
After 55 years of not honoring God, 55 years of doing nothing but wrong, what did he do? Verse 12 says, "While he was in great distress, he called out humbly to the Lord his God, the God of his ancestors". Surely, God would say, "Manasseh, you fair-weathered friend, you don't even acknowledge me for 55 years and now you want my help. You've been the most wicked ruler. You're in the 'Guinness book of world records.' I don't think so. It's payback time. You're on your own".
No, the next verse says, "When he prayed, God heard him and was moved by his request". It goes on to tell how God delivered him from the Babylonians, he returned to his land to rule his people a changed man. From then on, he only worshiped Jehovah. That's the mercy of our God. We think, "I haven't lived the right kind of life, God's not going to help me. I've got this addiction. I blew a relationship. I didn't raise my children right". No, you're not any worse than Manasseh. You're not listed in the scripture as the most wicked person.
Why don't you be bold and say, "God, I made a mess of things. I haven't performed perfectly, but God, I know where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. I know you're full of mercy. God, I'm asking you to help me". "But Joel, God's not ever going to help me, not going to listen to me". He listened to Manasseh. Fifty-five years of doing nothing but wrong and he was bold enough to ask. God turned it around and brought him out of the mess that he made.
Have you ever asked God to bring you out of the problem that you brought on yourself? Do you have the boldness to ask God to bless you in spite of your mistakes, to show you favor in spite of your failings? Every voice will tell you, "You don't deserve it. It's not right. God's not going to listen to you". When you start shaking off guilt and condemnation, the enemy goes into overtime. He's called the accuser. He'll remind you of every mistake, every weakness. He wants you to go around feeling unworthy, carrying a heavy load of guilt, thinking about how undeserving you are.
Hebrews 4:16 says just the opposite, "Come boldly to the throne of grace," why? To receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. If you're going to reach your highest potential, you got to shake off the guilt, shake off the accusing voices and come boldly to the throne. Dare to say, "God, I'm asking for your blessing, your goodness, your mercy in spite of my mistakes".
This is what Samson did, an angel appeared to his mother and told her she was going to have a baby. He would be a deliverer. The plan for Samson's life had already been laid out. He grew up and had this supernatural strength. At one point, these thousands of philistines had surrounded him. He had no armor, no weapons, all he had was the jawbone of a donkey. He picked it up and defeated those thousands of men. Another place, he was trapped inside this city, the walls were high, the gates were locked, looked like he would be caught, but in the middle of the night, he went to the city gates, these big iron structures and he ripped them out of the ground, put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of a hill.
He was uncontainable, but Samson started running with the wrong crowd. He started compromising, making poor choices, doing things that he knew he shouldn't do. He let his guard down and he told the philistines the secret of his strength. They cut his hair, he lost all of his power. They not only captured him, but they gouged out his eyes, bound him in chains. He ended up in prison, grinding at the mill. Here this once powerful man, destined to do great things, had God's blessings and favor, is now blind, chained, living like an animal.
The fact is, it was his own fault. He brought the trouble on himself. Seemed like he was done, like God was finished with him. But one day, the philistines were having a big celebration, a big party and there were several thousand people assembled in this large room. They decided to bring Samson out to show him off, sort of like their trophy. As he stood there on display, people would go by and laugh, mock, ridicule him.
You would think that Samson would feel condemned, washed up, thinking, "Hey, I'm getting what I deserve. I made some really bad choices". No, Samson understood this principle. While they were mocking him, under his breath he said, "Sovereign God, please strengthen me one more time". Imagine the nerve that took, the boldness. After all the mistakes he made, he had the audacity to believe, number one, that God would hear him, and number two, that God would give him the strength, the favor, the blessing that he had before he had made those mistakes.
God could have said, "Samson, you had your chance. You blew it again and again and again". No, when you come to the throne with boldness and you not only receive God's mercy, but you take it one step further and ask God to bless you in spite of your mistakes, ask God to help you clean up a mess that you made, ask him to show you favor even though you don't deserve it, God doesn't say, "Too bad. No, I'm not going to do it".
The scripture says supernatural strength came on Samson one more time. While those people were making fun of him, he asked a young boy to place his hands on the columns that he was chained to. Just so happened that these two big pillars were holding up the building. He felt that supernatural strength surge into him one more time. He pushed those columns, the building came tumbling down. He defeated more enemies in his death than he did his entire lifetime. What if he hadn't had the boldness to say, "God, strengthen me one more time"? The story wouldn't have ended like it did.
Maybe you've made mistakes. You're not where you want to be in life and you could say like Samson, "Hey, a lot of it's my own fault. I was undisciplined, ran with the wrong crowd, did things that I knew I wasn't supposed to do". That's fine, here's my question, will you have the boldness to shake off the guilt and shake off the accusing voices and say, "God, bless me one more time; God, restore me one more time; God, show me favor one more time; God, deliver me one more time"? Here's the beauty about our God, if you'll have the boldness to ask, God will do it one more time. Then he'll do it one more time. Then he'll do it one more time. God never runs out of the one more times.
But too often, we believe God forgives us. We know he's merciful, but we don't think that God will bless us, not after what we've done. "He'll forgive me, but he won't restore my marriage. He'll be merciful to me, but he won't still give me that promotion". That's what he did for Samson. He not only showed him mercy, but he strengthened him one more time. Some of you are sitting on the sidelines, focused on your mistakes, living guilty, letting the accuser keep telling you that you're all washed up. No, God is saying, I've got a one-more-time for you. If you will go boldly to the throne, not condemned, not thinking, "Oh, I've blown it so many times". No, go to God and say, "God, I don't feel worthy, but I come to you with boldness, not because of how good I am, but because of how good you are. God, you said where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. So God, I'm asking you to bless me one more time. Strengthen me one more time. God, bring me out one more time".
God did it for Samson, he'll do it for you. But when we make mistakes, the last thing we want to do is go to God. "Joel, God is not going to help me. He saw me make the poor choice. I knew I wasn't supposed to be running with this crowd, I did it anyway". No, here's the key, God doesn't judge you by one mistake. He doesn't judge you by your last mistake. God is not holding your faults against you.
Think about Thomas, he was one of the disciples. There were reports that Jesus had risen from the dead, but Thomas didn't believe. The other disciples tried to convince him, but Thomas said, "No guys, I'm not going to believe unless I see the nail prints in Jesus' hands with my own eyes". He was still filled with doubt. Later, the disciples were in a room together and Jesus appeared. He came walking through the door. They were all amazed and taken back. What's interesting is Jesus headed straight toward Thomas. He didn't go to the other believers. Jesus bypassed all the people with faith and he went to the one man that had doubt. He reached out his arms and said, "Thomas, feel the nail prints in my hands. Look at the scars on my feet". Thomas said, "Lord, I believe".
Jesus could have thought, "Thomas, fine, I told you I'm going to rise from the dead. If you don't believe, that's your own problem". No, God doesn't judge you by one mistake, by one weakness, by one bad season, by one failed marriage, by one addiction. God is not holding your faults against you. That voice that's always telling you what you're not, making you condemned, trying to get you to live guilty, saying God wouldn't have anything to do with you, that's the accuser. You know why he wants you to feel condemned, go around feeling bad about yourself? So that you won't go boldly to the throne. He knows God always has a one-more-time. He knows God will help you out of a mess that you made.
What am I saying? As long as you believe, there's always a one-more-time for you. Fifty-five years, Manasseh lived off course, but God had a one-more-time. God didn't hold that against him. Thomas traveled with Jesus. In other words, he was in church every Sunday. He still blew it, but God had a one more time for Thomas. We call him doubting Thomas. We put labels on people. You know what God calls him? Believing Thomas. The enemy, he will try to label you with everything that you've done wrong, doubter, failed, divorced, addicted, poor choices. God labels you forgiven, redeemed, restored, overcomer, more than a conqueror, victorious.
When you make mistakes in life, when you fall, when you have moments of doubt, don't let the accuser keep you from going to your father for mercy. God is not judging you. He's not holding a grudge. He's not finding fault with you. Your job is to go boldly to the throne and say, "God, I need your mercy. I'm here knowing that you're a good God. I'm here believing that you've got a one-more-time for me".
Jesus talked about how we have to have faith as a little child. When children make mistakes, have you noticed, they don't sit around guilty for 6 months? They don't go around condemned, thinking that they've missed their destiny. They let it go and move forward. Just like them, don't go around dwelling on your mistakes and all the times that you've failed. Let it go and move forward with your life. You're not a failure unless you quit. You're a learner.
When our children are learning to walk, if they take two or three steps together in a row, we clap and cheer. We'll call our family, "He's walking, he's walking". What we don't tell them is the 7,000 times he's fallen before. In the same way, God is not focused on all the times that you've fallen. As long as you get back up and keep moving forward, God is pleased with you. You don't have to have a perfect performance. If your heart is perfect toward God, if you've got a desire to please him, your performance will catch up. Don't go around beating yourself up over past mistakes. Learn to receive God's mercy.
When our children were small, I loved taking them to the toy store. When I'd tell Jonathan, 4 or 5 years old, "Let's go to the store," do you know he never once said, "No, dad, I don't think I'm worthy. I don't think I deserve it. I made fun of my sister yesterday". No, children know how to receive. As adults, we start accumulating all this negative baggage, mistakes, failures, missed opportunities.
We live under a heavy load of guilt, regrets. The accuser keeps saying, "You had your chance. You blew it, just settle where you are". No, you gotta shake that off. God is saying, "I've got a one-more-time for you. One more time I'm going to bless you. One more time I'm going to restore you. One more time I'm going to show you my favor. Now, will you receive this mercy? Will you shake off the guilt and get a new vision for your life"? God is saying, your heavenly father saying, "Let's go to the store. I want to be good to you. I have mercy. I have forgiveness. I have new beginnings. I have restoration".
Now, are you going to be like a child and say, "God, let's go. I believe you love me. I believe I'm forgiven. I believe your mercy is bigger than any mistake". Or are you going to say, "Nah, I don't deserve it. I've been struggling with this same thing again. Didn't go to church last week, lost my temper last month". No, God is not finding fault with you. Stop finding fault with yourself. You're not a finished product. God is still working on you.
This is what Jonah did. God told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and share the good news, but he didn't want to go there. He did just the opposite. God told him to go left and he went right. He ended up on a boat. They encountered a huge storm, got so bad they thought they were all going to die. Jonah finally admitted to the crew that he was the problem and they threw him overboard. He should have drowned out there in the middle of the water but, perfectly on cue, this big whale comes by and swallows Jonah up.
Friends, you can't outrun the mercy of God. The psalmist said, "If I go to the depths of the ocean or way up in the sky, God's presence is always with me". Jonah was sitting in the whale, he had just done the opposite of what he knew he was supposed to do. It's one thing to get into trouble and you didn't really know better, but he knew and chose to do wrong. Seems like God would say, "Fine Jonah, have your own way. Watch what happens". No, God has already taken into account every wrong turn, every mistake.
Don't write yourself off. Get up and do better next time. Sitting in the belly of the whale, the scripture says Jonah cried out to the Lord in his great trouble and God answered him. God caused the fish to spit Jonah up on dry ground, spared his life. That's the God we serve. He doesn't judge you by past mistakes. He doesn't hold a grudge. He's not writing you off because you went left and he said go right.
Even when you make mistakes, if you'll be bold like Jonah and go to God, ask him to help you, God will show up one more time. One more time, he'll heal you. One more time, he'll deliver you. One more time, he'll bring you out. But some of you think that it's been too many times. "Joel, I've blown too many chances. I'm still struggling with this same thing. I said I wouldn't do it again". That's okay, this is a new day. God's mercy is new every morning. He has a fresh batch of mercy just for you. Will you do like Jonah and say, "God, I made a mess, but I'm coming to you boldly knowing that you have mercy. God, I'm bold enough to believe that you will help me one more time".
In the scripture, Jacob was known for his poor choices. When his brother Esau was extremely hungry and not thinking clearly, he took advantage of him. He traded him a pot of stew for Esau's birthright. The birthright was extremely valuable. Jacob knew it was wrong. He knew he was cheating his brother, but he did it anyway, that's the way he was. Another time, when their father was very old and couldn't see clearly, Jacob dressed up like his brother Esau and tricked their father into giving him the blessing of the firstborn that belonged to Esau.
Time and again, he went around deceiving, no integrity. One day, Jacob got tired of living like that. He told his family that he was going to go down to the brook and get alone with God and make things right. An angel appeared to him in the form of a man. They begin to wrestle. This went on all night. The next morning, the angel was about to leave and Jacob made an interesting statement. He said, "No, I'm not letting you go until you first bless me".
Imagine the nerve of Jacob asking God to bless him after living a life of cheating, taking advantage of people, stealing his brother's birthright. Surely, God would say, "Jacob, you are the last person on earth I'm ever going to bless. You can forget about it". No, God said in effect, "Jacob, I like the fact that you come boldly to the throne. I like the fact that you know I'm full of mercy, that you know where sin abounds, grace does much more abound". God not only gave him the blessing, but he changed his name from Jacob, which means deceiver; to Israel, which means prince with God. From that day, Jacob went out with the blessing, a changed man.
Friends, God is not holding anything against you, and some of you have been carrying the heavy load of guilt, condemnation, thinking that God would never be good to you. Have you ever asked, have you ever said, "God, I haven't performed perfectly. I've made a mess out of things, but God, I'm asking you to bless me in spite of my mistakes. God, I'm asking you to strengthen me one more time". God did it for Jacob. He did it for Jonah, did it for Samson, did it for Manasseh. He'll do it for you. He's a one more time God. One more time, he's going to bless you. One more time, he's going to restore you. The good news is he'll never run out of the one-more-times. Now, shake off the guilt and go boldly to the throne. If you do this, you won't be disappointed. I believe and declare God will restore you, bless you, bring you out, and you will still fulfill the best plan that he's laid out for your life.