Joel Osteen — Pit Praisers
I want to talk to you today about, "Pit praisers". It's easy to give God praise when things are going good. That doesn't take much faith. But what about when business slows down, somebody does us wrong, the medical report says we're not getting better?
We all have times where we feel like we're in the pits. Life has thrown us a curve. It's easy to get discouraged and go around negative. We think when it turns around, then I'll have a good attitude. When my health improves, then I'll be grateful. When I get out of this mess, Joel. When I break this addiction, then I'll get my joy back. But that's backward. You have to give God praise first. Praise is what causes things to turn around. Praise is what breaks bondages that are activates God's favor.
Don't wait till you get out of the pit. Be a pit praiser. Praise him in spite of what hasn't worked out. Praise him in spite of what you lost. Any of us can give God praise when we're on the mountaintop. The real in the valley? Will you worship him in the wilderness? Will you shout when the walls aren't falling? Will you be a pit praiser?
This is what Joseph had to do. When he was a young man, God gave him a dream that one day he would rule a nation, and that his brothers would bow down before him. He was excited. He knew God's favor was on his life. He should have been more discreet and kept it to himself. But he went around telling people. The fact that they were going to bow down. They were already jealous because Joseph was the youngest son and his and one day, Joseph's father asked him to go check on his brothers. They were in another city taking care of the sheep. When they saw Joseph coming, they thought, "This is our chance to get rid of Joseph. We'll tell our father that he was eaten by a wild animal". They grabbed Joseph and threw him into a pit, a deep well.
They were going to leave him there to die, but when God puts a promise in your heart, people can't stop you. Bad breaks can't stop you. Betrayal, rejection. People don't have the final say, God does. But the dream God put in you is not going to come to pass without opposition. There will be times it's not fair, it doesn't make sense. Don't get bitter. It's all a part of God's plan. It looks like a setback. The truth is it's a set up to move the key is what you do when you're in the pit, when life has taken an unexpected turn. A relationship didn't work out. You lost a loved it's tempting to get sour, go around complaining, talking about how it's not going to work out.
All that's going to do is Joseph's brothers were up having lunch while he was in the pit. They saw this caravan of ishmaelite's headed their way. One of the brothers named Judah said, "What does it profit us to kill Joseph? Let's sell him. Let's make some money". They brought Joseph out of the pit and sold him as a slave to the Ishmaelites.
What's interesting is the name Judah, the brother that saved Joseph's life, means "Praise". God was showing us praise protects brothers were saying, "Let's kill him. Let's leave him here to die". But praise rose up and said, "No, we're going to let him live". Praise changed the opposition's mind. Praise pushed back the forces of darkness when you're in the pit, don't complain. Turn up your praise. You have to protect your dream. The way you do it is by having "Father, thank you that you are fighting my battle. Yes, this is a big problem. But I know you're a big God. You flung stars into space. Nothing's too difficult for you".
The scripture says, "The spirit of faith is in our words". What kind of words are are you talking about how big your problem is? Or are you talking about how big your God is? Are you complaining about the pit? Focused on what wasn't fair? Or who did you wrong? You have to wake up Judah. Judah is in you. You're waiting for someone else to deliver you. Someone to pray for you. Someone to cheer you up. You can deliver yourself.
If you'll get Judah up and start thanking God that he's turning it around. Not complaining about the medical report but thanking him that he's restoring health back into you. Not discouraged over finances but thanking him that you will lend and not praising him in the pit, praising him in the loss, praising him in the storm; that's sacrifice appraised, what he calls, he knows it's not easy. He knows it wasn't fair. He knows they did you wrong. He knows you felt like quitting but when you praise him in the pit, that moves God in a greater way.
The sacrifice of praise it's one thing to be grateful when things are going our way. That's important. We should do that. But when you have a song in your heart, when every circumstance says you should be discouraged, when you can say, "God, I bless you in spite of what hasn't worked out". Said, "God lifted me out of the pit and set my feet upon a rock". You may be in the pit but you're not going to stay there. You've heard that saying, "You can't keep a good man down". Let me tell you, you can't keep a praiser down. Anyone can complain, anyone God is looking for some pit praisers. People that will praise him no matter what happens. Praise him in the good times. Praise praise him when business is up. Praise him when it's down. David said, "I'll bless the Lord at all times. His praise will continually be in my mouth".
This is what Paul and Silas did in the scripture. They were falsely accused and put in prison for sharing the good news. They could have been bitter, complained, "God, why did you let this happen? We were doing the right thing". Instead, they were pit praisers. At midnight, in the dungeon, they started singing praises and thanking God. Suddenly, there was a great earthquake. The foundation of the prison was shaking, the doors flung open, they walked out as free men.
When God heard the praises coming from the jail, I can imagine he turned to Gabriel and said, "Gabriel, if they're going to praise me in the pit, if they're going to sing in the midnight hour, if they're going to offer up the sacrifice of praise, I can't just sit back. I'm going to go down there and do something about it".
The scripture says in Zephaniah, "The Lord your mighty warrior is with you. He will take delight in you and rejoice over you with when you give God praise in the difficult times, when you sing in the midnight hour, the Lord, your mighty warrior, not a weak God, not a lacking God, not a limited God, but the all powerful creator of the universe will not only take start singing over you.
When God sings, prison doors open, addictions are broken, depression can't stay, poverty and lack have to go. God will get you to where you're supposed to be. But when we're in the pits, it's easy to have a pity party and think, "Why did this happen? I prayed. My loved one didn't make it. My relationship didn't work out. My house was damaged in the storm". You're right where Joseph was. Doing the right thing and the wrong thing happened. You're right where Paul and Silas were. You're honoring God and you can either get negative, bitter, or you can become a pit praiser. You can thank God not for the pit but thank him that he's bringing you out. Don't thank him for the problem, thank him that he's turning to understand everything God is doing.
There are times like with Joseph, the pit has been ordained by God. We don't like it but the pit is on the road to our destiny. God's plan for Joseph's not Israel. His brothers were ordained to betray him. He was ordained to be sold as a slave. Ordained to work for Potiphar, a high-ranking all a part of the plan to life is not going to make sense.
You're doing the right thing but it's not working out. You have to trust that God is still in control, that he knows what he's doing, that he will not mismanage your life. God has already planned the end from the beginning. He never promised that we would understand everything that happens he said, "My ways are not your ways". He let us know right up front it's not always going to make sense.
This is what faith is all about. When God gave Joseph that dream, it showed him up and his brothers down. But when the brothers threw him into the pit, he was down and his brothers were up. Just the opposite. He could have thought, "God, I must have heard you wrong. This is backwards. He could have complained, been bitter. Instead, his attitude was, "God, I trust you. You said my steps are ordered by you, so wherever you have me, I'm going to be the best that I can be". You never read where Joseph complained, where he was bitter, where he slacked off.
I can imagine in the pit, thoughts said to him, "Where is your God now? This dream is never going to come to pass". The pit was simply a test. God was seeing, "Will you trust me when you don't understand? Will you praise me in the pit when it doesn't make sense and praise is not just words, it's our attitude. We're grateful. We have a smile. We're being good to people. We're passionate about our dreams.
The scripture says our life is a praise to God. When you're a pit praiser, you can be in the pit and nobody around you knows it. You're not sour. You don't have a chip on your shoulder. You've learned this secret to bless the Lord at all Joseph said in effect, "This pit is not going to stop my praise. I know it's a part of the process. God wouldn't have allowed it if he didn't have a purpose. So it's not going to take my joy. I'm going to be a pit praiser".
I can hear him when he was in the pit. His brothers up having lunch. "Father, thank you that nothing can snatch me out of your hands. You being for me I know is greater than the whole world being against me". As he kept thanking God, his brother named Judah, the one that means praise suddenly had an idea. "Let's not harm Joseph. Let's sell him to these people". That wasn't his idea, God gave him that idea. When you're giving God praise, he's fighting ideas, putting thoughts in their mind, causing them to want to be good to you.
But, what if Joseph wouldn't have been a pit praiser? What if he'd been negative, bitter? Maybe he'd stay in the pit. Maybe he would have missed in the pit, it's a test. Are you going to get discouraged? Bitter? Or are you going to protect your dream through praise? Are you going to wake up Judah?
Sometimes, like with Joseph, what God promised us looks just the opposite. God said he's restoring health back to you. The medical report says you're not going to get better. God says your whole family is going to serve him. Maybe you have children that are far off course. Don't get discouraged by what's not lining up. It's not over. God is still things are happening that you cannot see. Keep thanking God that it's on when a car is low on fuel or they need new tires, they'll come in for a pit stop. When they pull into the pit, the team goes to work to get it refueled and prepared for the rest way, the pit stops in our life are not the end.
When we're in the pits, a difficult time, we had a bad break, God uses that pit stop to refuel us and get us prepared for the next season of our life. The way to get refueled is by finding something to be grateful for. Not dwelling on what's wrong, but thanking God for what's right. Not focused on what you lost but thanking God for what you have left.
You may feel like you're in the pits. You have a good reason to be discouraged. Have a new perspective. You're in a time of refreshing, re-energizing, refueling. Without a few pit stops we wouldn't be prepared for the rest of our journey. The problem is some people make the pit stop their home. They lose their passion, get discouraged. "Why did this happen to me? I was doing so well". It's just a pit stop. I don't know anyone that's fulfilled their destiny without a few faith: David, Moses, Abraham, Ruth, Esther, Sarah. They all had pit stops.
My challenge is don't get stuck in the pit. It's a pit stop not a pit end. Not a pit finish. Not a pit it's over and done. Your life is not supposed to end in defeat, in a bad break, in disappointment. God has victory in front in a big pit. Then you need to have big praise, big faith, big dreams. Don't believe that lie that where you are is permanent. God did not breathe life into you, crown you with favor, put royal blood in your veins, for you to live the pits are temporary but you have to do your part and praise your way out attitude is, "Father, thank you that this pit is just a stop. It's not my final destination. Thank you that you're making a way where I don't see a way. That what was meant to stop me is going to promote me".
Praise, keep thanking God, keeping encouraging yourself, you'll not only come out of the pit, you'll come out stronger, into new levels, new relationships, new opportunities. After the pit is promotion. After the pit is favor. After the pit is the palace. Joseph went on to see his dream come to pass. There were a lot of twists and turns. It was a winding road but he kept moving forward and he fulfilled not been willing to praise in the pit, he would have could it be that a lack of praise is keeping you out of your palace so to speak. You're waiting for things to turn around and then you'll have a good attitude. Then you'll be grateful. You have to give God praise in the pit. That's what allows him to take you into the palace.
In Matthew 15, Jesus had just left Galilee when a canaanite woman came up to him. The canaanites were idol worshippers. They were gentiles. They didn't believe in Jehovah. For a lady to approach him like that in that day was unusual because the women were taught to stay in the background. This lady traveled a great distance, said to Jesus, "Son of David, have mercy on me. My little girl is so sick". Jesus ignored her. He didn't say a word. He acted like she wasn't there. Jesus was normally so-compassionate. The lady kept begging and begging, "Please come heal my daughter," so much so that the disciples asked away? Can we tell her to leave? She's bothering us with all of her begging".
Jesus finally told her why he was ignoring her. He said, "Ma'am, I was sent to help the house of Israel, not the gentiles". He was saying, "I'm sorry but you're not a part of our family. I feel badly but I can't take what belongs to the Israelites and give it to you". This lady had everything going against her. She was a gentile. She was an idol worshipper. She was a woman. But when she said, "Son of David, have mercy on me," she was saying, "I know you're the Messiah for the Israelites. I realize I'm outside the family. I don't have any right to this. But I'm asking you to make an exception".
When Jesus told her NO, that could have been the end of the story. But this lady did something interesting. Instead of continuing to beg, she fell down at his feet and started worshipping. She started praising him, thanking him. I can imagine Jesus tried to walk away. He tried to move on. But when he heard the praise, he couldn't leave. Praise kept pulling him back. Praise kept the scripture says, "God inhabits our praises". That means praise brings God on the scene.
Begging doesn't move God. Complaining doesn't sway him. But praise causes the creator of the universe to show up. Jesus thought, "I know she's outside the family. I know she comes from idol worshippers. I know this goes against "protocol" but I can't turn a praiser down". He said to the woman, "You have great faith. You can go back home. Your daughter has been healed".
A few minutes earlier, he was ignoring her. What changed it when she stopped begging begging and started worshipping. That's how powerful praise is. You may think you're kind of outside the family, you don't deserve God's goodness. You've made on yourself. There may be shouldn't do it. But if you'll do like this lady and go to God not begging him but giving him praise, thanking him, bragging on his goodness, God will break protocol so to speak and do things that you don't deserve.
What begging won't do, praise will do. No more: God I'm begging you to heal me. I'm begging you to turn my child around. Father, thank you that you're restoring health back to me. Thank you that as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. God won't disappoint Jeremiah said when you offer up the sacrifice of praise, God will cause the captivity of the land to be reversed and the fortunes be some things you need reversed and restored. You don't see how it could the day saying, "Father, thank you that the answer's on the way. Thank you that you're working behind the scenes". Because you're offering up that sacrifice reverse finances that are down, reverse a negative medical report, reverse a legal situation. Not only that, he's going to restore what should have been yours, restore years you lost because somebody did you wrong, restore a relationship that's going down. Restore health back to your body. It's going to happen because of your praise.
In the scripture the Israelites had traveled through the desert 40 years trying to make it to the Promised Land. The parents never did make it in because they complained and were negative. They eventually died. Now their children were at Jericho. This was the last city that stood between them and their Promised Land. You can imagine how excited they were if they could just get through Jericho they would finally see this dream come to pass.
There will always be a Jericho that stands between you and your Promised Land. One last obstacle that looked insurmountable. You've come this far, you've done so well, but you don't see how to get past it. This is how the Israelites felt. They could taste the victory. After years, they were finally within reach but Jericho had a huge wall around the city, so thick that the chariots could ride on top of the wall. It looked impossible to have the people march around the wall six days and on the seventh day, on the seventh time around, great shout. The Israelites stood in front of that wall and let out a great shout of praise.
It didn't make sense to their mind. Everything said, "You're being foolish. You're on the outside. Nothing is happening". They just kept giving God praise. Suddenly this huge wall not only came tumbling down, but researchers have found it fell in such a way that it created a perfect ramp so the Israelites could go in and take the city.
When you give God praise, he doesn't just bring down walls but he'll make a path so you can go in and take your Promised Land. He'll make your rough places smooth. Maybe you have a big obstacle in front of you. You don't see how you can ever get past it. Don't complain. Turn up your praise. Praise is what's going to bring the like you're in a pit. You've had some bad breaks. Being bitter is not going to make it better.
Be a pit praiser. All through the day, "Father, thank you that you're fighting my battles. Thank you that you hold victory in store for the upright. if you'll do this, I believe and declare, like Joseph, you're coming out of that pit into your palace. Like Joshua walls that have holding you back are being broken right now. Like Jeremiah said, "God's going to reverse and restore". You're going to see healing, breakthrough, vindication, promotion, the fullness of your destiny. In Jesus' name.