Joel Osteen — Sleep On
I want to talk to you today about sleep on. It's easy to live frustrated because somebody's not doing what we want, or discouraged because of a disappointment, upset because a dream hasn't come to pass but I've learned God doesn't remove every frustration. He doesn't change every person we don't like and take away everything that's bothering us.
The scripture says, "Be still and know that he is God". This implies if we're not still, if we're upset, worried, frustrated, we're not going to know that he is God. Most of the times I'm frustrated, I'm trying to change things that only God can change. I'm trying to be God and fix things that I can't control. You can't make people do what's right. You can't make yourself do well. If you're trying to control everything, you're going to be frustrated. You have to turn it over to God, do what you can, then let him take care of the rest.
Life is too short to live frustrated because we're not getting our way, frustrated because something unfair has happened. God wouldn't have allowed it if it was going to keep you from your purpose. It's a test. Are you going to let it steal your joy, live stressed out, or are you going to be still and know that he is God? If God is not changing it, you have to be mature enough to say, "God, I don't like it, but I know you've allowed it and until you change it, I'm going to stay in peace and enjoy my life". The real victory is not when God does everything you want, removes all your frustrations, the real victory is when those things happen but it doesn't bother you anymore. You're at peace. You know God is still in control.
Matthew 26, Jesus was about to be betrayed and go to the cross. He went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He was so troubled and so overwhelmed, he asked his disciples to stay there and pray for him. He went away by himself, fell on the ground, said, "Father, if it's possible, take this cup from me". A little while he went back to check on his disciples, hoping to gain some strength, some encouragement from them but when he
showed up, he found that they were all sound asleep.
He couldn't believe it. He woke them up and said, "Guys, couldn't you stay up and pray for me? This is the biggest challenge I've ever faced". He was kind of frustrated. He asked them again, even more emphatically, please, stay awake. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, pray". Jesus went away again by himself to pray. He thought for sure this time they got the message. He came back a little later, same thing, still sleeping. You can imagine how disappointed he was. He turned around, went back to pray some more. Then he thought, "I'll go check on them one last time. This third time, I know they'll be praying. After all I've done for them, I know they'll be standing in faith with me".
He went back the third time but they were still sleeping. This time he didn't try to wake them up. He didn't try to get them to be for him. He looked at them and said, "Sleep on". He came to the point where he didn't let it bother him anymore. He could have kept waking them up, trying to make it happen, being frustrated. Instead, he accepted he wasn't going to have their support. He accepted it wasn't going to work out his way. He didn't fight it. He didn't let it frustrate him anymore. He said, "Sleep on," and moved forward.
There are times in life when things don't work out the way we want it. The people we were counting on weren't there for us. The medical report wasn't good. The dream isn't happening on our timetable. We could be frustrated. We did the right thing. We stayed in faith but it's not working out. You have to do what Jesus did, tell the disappointment, tell the delay, tell the frustration, "Sleep on. You're not going to bother me anymore. I know God is still on the throne. I know he's fighting my battles and he will get me to where I'm supposed to be".
Are there some things you need to tell sleep on? That person you've been trying to change, no matter how hard you try, they won't do what you want. It's time to say, sleep on. You can't control people. You can't make them do what's right. Pray for them, be respectful, but don't go the next 30 years letting them frustrate you. Two simple words can change your life, sleep on. Jesus wanted his disciples' support. He deserved it. He had been good to them but sometimes God will pull back people's support. He knows if they're there all the time, then you would become dependent on them. You would think they were your source, they were your Savior.
You don't need everyone you think you need. God has already lined up the right people to come into your life to help you reach your destiny. The right people, you don't have to play up to. You don't have to try to manipulate, convince them to be for you, convince them to stay away. They'll be for you through thick and thin. They'll show up when you didn't ask. They'll encourage you when nobody else is around. But sometimes we're being frustrated by people that are never going to be for us. We're spending all this energy trying to win them over. No matter how good we are to them, every time we need them, they're asleep, they're busy, they're not interested.
I've heard it said, quit swimming across an ocean to be good to someone that won't walk across a puddle to be good to you, and I'm all for overcoming evil with good, blessing our enemies, but the scripture says, "Don't cast your pearl among swine". Your pearl is your gift. Your personality, your anointing. It's who God made you to be, and some people won't value your pearl. They won't respect your gift. They won't recognize what you have to offer, the calling, the favor on your life, and your time is too valuable to waste it with people that discount your pearl.
Don't hang around people that try to lessen you where you feel like you have to prove to them who you are, prove to them why they should be your friend. You don't need their approval. You have Almighty God's approval. He breathes his life into you. He crowns you with favor. You have royal blood flowing through your veins. Hang around people that celebrate your pearl, people that polish your pearl, people that respect your pearl.
Too often we're trying to drag someone along, convince him to like us, convince them to stay awake. Do yourself a favor, tell them, "Sleep on". If you'll let go of the wrong people, God will bring the right people. He'll send you divine connections, people that will love you for who you are and not for what you can do for them, people that will inspire you to go further, people that will bring out the best in you, people that will cause your pearl to shine.
But Jesus was wise enough to recognize the disciples couldn't stop the plan of God for his life. Their lack of support couldn't keep him from doing what his Father called him to do. They were good people, they loved him but sometimes good people won't be there for you. It's a test. Are you going to get frustrated, keep trying to wake them up, or are you going to recognize it's a new season and say, "Sleep on"?
Here's the key, if they didn't wake up, you don't need them for this season. If they're not giving you what they used to give you, that means God is taking you to a higher level. He's weaning you off the support, the encouragement.
It's like a little baby, they love to have their bottle, makes them comfortable, makes them feel secure and that's fine as long as they're a year or 2 old but if they're 47 walking around with that bottle, that's a problem. But as parents, when we take the bottle away from our children, they don't like it. They're uncomfortable. But we do it so it won't limit their growth.
Sometimes God will make you uncomfortable. He'll take something away that you were used to, a friend that always called and encouraged you, a co-worker that always helped you with the report, a neighbor you could always count on to go somewhere together. It's because God is weaning you off that bottle, so to speak. As long as you're dependent on people, it will limit how high you can go.
When God removes the support, when he takes way someone that you were used to, don't get mad at them. Don't keep trying to wake them up, God put them to sleep. You can't open a door that God has closed and that friend that's not there anymore, the disappointment, you may not like it, it may be painful but it's ordained by God. You have to recognize that's a sign you're coming up higher. That discomfort means you're going to a new level, and everyone that's with you now may not be able to go where you're going.
Some people are like scaffolding, they come into your life for a season to help you reach a certain level but at some point, God is going to remove the scaffolding so you can shine. It's not that they're not good people, but their part in your story is over. God's taking you to a higher level. Quit being frustrated by somebody that's not supporting you like they used to. "Why don't they call me anymore, Joel? Why don't they compliment me"? The right attitude is, "I love you, I respect you, but I don't have to have your support, your compliments, your encouragement, sleep on".
But in life, we all go through Gethsemane. We all have disappointments and things we don't understand, but I've learned God gives us grace for every Gethsemane, grace for every unfair situation. It's very freeing when you can look at the people that have left. You can look at the disappointment and say, "Sleep on". Amazing things are up ahead if you don't give up in Gethsemane. Yes, there will be crosses to bear, betrayals, setbacks, but can I encourage you? If you keep moving forward, there will be resurrections, there will be new beginnings, times where God pays you back for what was unfair, times where God catapults you years ahead.
Don't get stuck in Gethsemane. Don't let the sickness cause you to become bitter. You don't understand it. It's not fair. You could say, "God, why? This doesn't make sense," or you can look at the frustration, the discouragement, the fear, and say, "Sleep on. I'm not going to drag through this day defeated. I may be in Gethsemane but I know a resurrection is coming". Gethsemane doesn't have to stop you. God wouldn't have allowed it if it wasn't going to somehow move you towards your purpose.
The next time that co-worker is rude to you, instead of being upset, just smile and say, "Sleep on". When that car cuts you off in traffic, instead of saying what you normally say, try a new approach, "Sleep on". You're not approving their behavior. You're not enabling them, you're simply saying, "Your actions are not going to control my life. This traffic is not going to ruin my morning. This setback is not going to sour the rest of my future".
Maybe you need to tell your past, "Sleep on". You had a tough childhood. You went through a rough divorce. You lost a loved one. Tell the hurts, tell the questions, tell the failures, "Sleep on". I've learned you're either feeding your history or you're feeding your destiny, but you can't feed both. You're either looking back, living in regrets, thinking of everything that went wrong or you're looking ahead saying, "God, I know what was meant for harm, you're turning to my advantage. I know you have beauty for these ashes. I know weeping endures for a night but joy is coming in the morning".
If you're always feeding your history, you're going to be frustrated, guilty, angry, in self-pity. Do yourself a favor, tell your history, "Sleep on". You can't go forward if you're always looking backwards. You can't see the new things on the horizon if you're focused on what's behind. Start feeding your destiny. "Father, thank you that your plans for me are for good. Thank you that the path of the righteous gets brighter and brighter. Thank you that you hold victory in store for the upright". If you'll get your mind going in the right direction, your life will go in the right direction.
I talked to a gentleman last week, he'd gone through a lot of disappointments. His marriage of many years had ended and a very successful career went downhill. Everything fell apart. He was so discouraged, he was going to end his life. He got in his car and was driving to a remote place. He turned the radio on and just so happened to tune into our Sirius XM station. I was talking about not looking back, not reliving the hurts and failures, and how God has good things up ahead.
He said when he heard that, it was like somebody breathed new life into his spirit. Strongholds in his mind were broken. He turned around, went back home and today he's back on track living a life of victory.
What happened? He quit feeding his history and he started feeding his destiny. If you feed your history long enough, it will pull you into depression, and the enemy would love to keep you so focused on your hurts and what didn't work out that you're too discouraged to move forward. Don't fall into that trap. You wouldn't be alive unless God had something amazing in front of you. You may be in Gethsemane, a place of discouragement, frustration, but if you'll say, "Sleep on" and start thinking some new thoughts, then you're headed for a resurrection. You're headed for a new beginning, a place of restoration.
A few years ago, I was flying to an event with some of our staff and we were on a smaller plane that held a couple dozen people and after it took off, I wanted to open up my tray table so I could write some notes. The table was in the side of the plane right underneath the window, and I pulled and pulled but I couldn't get it open.
My friend was sitting across the aisle, his looked exactly the same and he pulled his straight out, no problem. I went back to mine and I pulled, I yanked, I struggled. I thought I'm going to get this table open if it's the last thing I do. It was stuck. My friend came over, he started pulling and pulling. Another staff member, they pulled and pulled, it wouldn't budge. I sat across the aisle kind of frustrated. About that time, I looked up and over the window where we had been pulling, there was a sign with big, bold letters it read, "Not a tray table, emergency exit only".
Sometimes what we're frustrated about is God keeping us from real frustration. In my case, God keeping me alive. If God answered all of our prayers, opened every door we asked him to open, brought every person we begged him to bring, we wouldn't reach our destiny.
The longer I live, the easier it is for me to say, "Sleep on". I may not understand it. It may not make sense, but I've learned God is smarter than I am. He can see things I cannot see. He knows what he's doing. I wonder if what's frustrating you has an "Emergency exit only" sign on it and you can't see it.
You don't understand why God won't answer the prayer, why the dream is taking so long, and why that guy at work you like so much hasn't even noticed you. You've worn your best clothes, your best perfume, given him our best move. He acts like he's dead. Maybe it's because God can see something you can't see. Maybe under his shirt is an "Emergency exit only" sign that's hidden from you. God has your best interest at heart. If he's not giving what you want, that means he has something better. He loves you too much to let you miss your destiny.
A couple of years after I took over for my father, the church started to grow and we needed a larger auditorium. We found a hundred-acre tract of land right by the other location a few miles away on the freeway. It seemed perfect. The owner told us the property had been on the market for 20 years. We knew God had saved that property for us. He said we didn't need to sign the contract right then. We could do some preliminary drawings and do some soil samples while the paperwork was getting taken care of.
Several months later, we went to close on the property. We had an 8 o'clock in the morning appointment. He showed up at 7:45, the secretary walked out said, "I'm sorry, the owner sold the property last night". I couldn't believe it. He didn't keep his word. I went home so disappointed. I told Victoria what happened and how there was no more property and how now we were stuck. She looked at me and said, "Joel, this means God has something better. He closed this door for a reason".
She started preaching to me one of my own sermons. I didn't want to hear that. She was saying sleep on. I was saying no, no, wake up, this is bad. I had to do what I'm asking you to do. I said, "God, I don't understand it. It doesn't seem fair but God, I trust you. I believe you know what's best".
Several months later, we found another piece of property, it seemed better than the first one. We went to close on it, the same thing happened. They sold it out from under us. If you don't pass the test the first time, you get to take it again. This time I said, "God, I'm glad they sold the property. I didn't want it in the first place".
God knew I was lying, but it felt good. But 6 months later, a friend called said, Joel, "The Houston rockets basketball team is moving out of the Compaq Center, that would be a perfect place for Lakewood". When he said that, something came alive on the inside. I knew that's why God had closed those doors. He had something bigger, better. I never dreamed we could be the Compaq Center. Things fell into place, here we are today.
What am I saying? The things you're tempted to be frustrated about today, if you will stay in faith, one day you'll look back and say like me, "Wow God, you outdid yourself. I never dreamed I'd meet somebody this great. I never dreamed I'd feel this healthy. I never dreamed you'd take me this far". God's plan for your life is so much bigger than your own. The real question is, what will you do in Gethsemane your way, when your friends aren't there for you, when the contract doesn't go through, when the medical report is not good?
Too many people don't see their resurrection because they get bitter in Gethsemane. "God, why did they fall asleep? Why did they sell it out from under us"? Gethsemane is the real test. We like when everything's going great but that's not when we grow the most. Gethsemane is where you can be promoted. God is seeing what you're made of. He's seeing if you're ready. If you'll stay in peace, if you'll be still and know that he is God, then he'll take you into your resurrection.
The way you know you're ready to be promoted is not that God has removed all your difficulties but you don't let them frustrate you anymore. You've learned this principle: two simple words, "Sleep on". Maybe these two words could help you get your joy back. Two words could help you sleep through the night. Two words could bring you peace: "Sleep on".
I read about a lady that was complaining about everything that went wrong that day and she said, "God, why did you let so many bad things happen? My alarm didn't go off, and I was late to work. At lunch they made the wrong sandwich and I had to send it back. Driving home, my cell phone dropped the call in the middle of the conversation. To top it off when I got home, I wanted to put my feet in the foot massager but it wouldn't turn on".
God said, "All right, let me go down the list. You alarm didn't go off because there was a drunk driver on the road. I delayed you on purpose so you wouldn't be harmed. You had to send your sandwich back because the first person that made it wasn't feeling well. I didn't want you to catch what they had so I had somebody else make you a new one. The cell phone dropped a call because that person was about to fill you with gossip and I didn't you to be contaminated, and the foot massager, it had a short in it, if you would have turned it on, it would be knocked out the power and I didn't think you wanted to sit around in the dark all night".
Could it be what's frustrating you is really the hand of God? Could it be he's behind he scenes doing things you can't see but it's for your good, protecting you, guiding you, positioning you? Nothing happens without God's permission. We're not always going to understand it. This is when we have to trust him.
You may be in Gethsemane today. You have a good reason to be upset, frustrated. I'm asking you to do what Jesus did, tell the frustration, tell the past, tell the disappointment, "Sleep on". It may not be fair but God sees what's happening. He has you in the palm of his hand. He's breathing in your direction right now.
Don't give up, in Gethsemane, you are close to your breakthrough. You are close to a new level and if you will pass this test, I believe and declare you're going to come out of Gethsemane into your resurrection. You're going to see promotion, healing, restoration, vindication. God's going to turn the frustration into favor. You're going to rise higher, accomplish dreams, and become everything he's created you to be in Jesus' name.