Joel Osteen — The Good Father
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I want to talk to you today about "The Good Father". Many of us were raised by fathers that were loving, and kind. They guided us and did their best to make sure that we had everything that we needed.
But, no matter how good our father was, people are not perfect. They make mistakes. There are times they can let us down, maybe not give us what we needed. Some fathers, they meant well, but they weren't affectionate. They never told you that they loved you, they were proud of you. They corrected you, they made sure you stayed on the right path, but they didn't express their love. Most likely did the same thing to them. They never heard, "I love you". They never saw it modeled. You can't give away what you don't have.
Friend of mine in high school, his father struggled with alcohol. He was a good man and fun to be around until he started drinking. Then he would become abusive and violent. More than once, my friend had to protect his mother from his father's violent rage. He said to me, "Why do I have to deal with this"? He was starting to become angry and bitter.
Most fathers never planned on messing up their children. They didn't set out to make it more difficult, pass down dysfunction, but like throwing a pebble on a calm lake, their decisions affect those around them. You can't help it, you've been impacted by the people that raised you. The good news is the Good Father, your Heavenly Father, has taken all this into account. He knew who your parents would be, he knew what you wouldn't get, he knew what wouldn't be fair. He's already designed a plan with this in mind to get you to your destiny.
And you may have been raised around dysfunction, addictions, abuse, poverty, but that does not have to stop you. That's where you come from, that's not who you are. You are a child of the Most High God. And your earthly father may have fallen short, disappointed you, didn't give you what you needed, but your Heavenly Father, the Good Father, will never let you down. He's the friend that sticks closer than a brother. Maybe your earthly father never gave you his approval, but the Good Father is saying, "I'm proud of you. I love you. You're my son, you're my daughter".
People may have tried to push you down, made you feel less than, but the Good Father is saying, "You're a masterpiece. You're a prized possession. You've been fearfully and wonderfully made". Now, don't stay focused on what your earthly father did or didn't give you. Don't live bitter because people put you at a disadvantage, they weren't there for you. Start going to the Good Father.
I know a young man, his father left his mother he never heard from him. When he was in his 20s, he tracked his father down and found out he lived in another state. He called so excited and said, "Dad, can I come see you"? His father reluctantly agreed. He had this longing to be in relationship with his father and show him who he had become. He traveled a great distance, but when he knocked on the door, the father wouldn't answer. He had changed his mind, wouldn't see him.
This young man was so devastated. It was like a part of him and yes, it's painful to be rejected by anyone, but especially by your own father. And when you've been raised in a dysfunctional environment, it's easy to become negative and think, "God, why was I born into this family? Why wasn't my father around? Or why was there so much arguing, addictions, abuse? Why didn't these people give me what I needed"? It may not have been fair, but the Good Father has taken that all into account.
What you wouldn't get, who would hurt you, what wouldn't work out, it may seem like it's put you at a disadvantage, but that has not stopped God's plan. When he laid out the path for your life, he took into consideration the pain, the bad breaks, the rejection. No matter how wrong it was, no matter who wasn't there for you, don't use it as an excuse to live bitter, to give up on dreams, "Well, Joel, my dad wasn't around like yours was". Or, "My dad was harsh and abusive. He didn't treat me right".
If you'll start going to the Good Father, if you'll get your approval, your affirmation, your love from him, then despite what your earthly father did or didn't do, the Good Father will pay you back for the injustice. The Good Father will help you not only overcome, but he'll show you favor that will Jesus said, "It is the father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom". The Good Father takes good pleasure in making your wrongs right. Giving you what people could not give you.
Like this young man, people may have put you at a disadvantage. God is saying, "Get ready, I'm about to make it up to you. I'm going to give you more opportunity, influence, resources, fulfillment, than if it had never happened."
I had a friend of mine was raised in an unhealthy environment. Her father wasn't in her life and he mother wasn't stable. She was bipolar and struggled with depression. She'd been married multiple times. And this young lady as a child saw things that she should've never seen, boyfriends in and out, and fights, and verbal abuse. She felt alone and afraid. At 15 years old, she left the house and went out on her own. All the odds were against her. She could've become a statistic, passed down the same dysfunction.
Psalm 68 says, "God will be a father to the fatherless". God sees when you don't have someone watching after you, he sees when you've been put in unfair situations where you didn't have a choice, you were born into it. This young lady had given her life to the Lord at the age of 12, and she made a decision that she wasn't going to pass down the same dysfunction to her children. She was going to break the generational curse. In the natural, she didn't have a chance, but the Good Father, the father to the fatherless, began to cause this man went out of his way, gave her a job at a fast food restaurant. He started watching after her like she was his own daughter.
This young lady paid her way through nursing school. She was hired at the local hospital. She met a doctor there, they fell in love and married. Today, she's not only extremely blessed, but she's raising her children in a loving, healthy, faith-filled environment. The Good Father helped her break the generational curse and start a generational blessing.
And you may have 1,000 reasons to live negative, bitter. "God, why did this happen? It wasn't fair". God has taken into account everything you didn't get, every bad break, every person that did you wrong. And if you'll do like her and keep moving forward, the Good Father will open doors no man can shut, bring the right people, cause you to go where you could not go on your own.
Joshua chapter 5, the Israelites had just crossed the Jordan river. They were camped outside the city of Jericho. This was the last obstacle between them and their Promised Land. Their parents had wandered in the desert for 40 years. They never did make it in, but God was about to fulfill his promise and take their children in.
But there was one last thing the men had to do. God told Joshua, "Take a knife and circumcise this new generation of Israelites". These men, this new generation were in their 20s and 30s. They were supposed to be circumcised when they were 8 days old by their fathers, but because their fathers didn't do what they were supposed to, when they were supposed to, now these grown men were having to be circumcised. Not by their fathers. Their fathers had passed. God told Joshua to do it.
And when you don't get what you should have as a child, it can be much more painful to get as an adult. At 8 days old, you don't remember it. You cry for a little while and then you're done, but these grown men were having to endure pain that could've been avoided if their fathers would've carried out their responsibilities.
You may be dealing with things today that your father could've taken care of. If your father would've told you that he's proud of you, you wouldn't be working three jobs trying to prove to him that you're talented, trying to earn his love. Or if your father would've paid attention to you, made you feel special, made you feel like a princess, you wouldn't go from man to man trying to get the approval that your father should've given you.
These men were all circumcised; they had to go through pain because of what their fathers didn't do. But when they came to Jericho, the last obstacle, God didn't tell them to go break through the walls, go jump over the walls, go God knew they were hurting. He knew they were dealing with things they shouldn't have had to deal with, things that weren't their fault. He didn't say, "Too bad, your parents should've obeyed me. Don't get mad at me, blame them". No, God took their pain into consideration. He told them, "All I want you to do is march around the walls one time and then rest. Do it one time the next day, and then rest".
This is the only place in the scripture where God had them around the walls. On the seventh day, when they marched around, let out that shout, the walls came tumbling down. They took the city, made it to the Promised Land.
God knows what you didn't get. He knows who wasn't there when you needed them. He knows who should've been and the good news is God is going to make it easier on you because of the people that did you wrong. There are battles you won't have to fight, walls you won't have to break down because the Good Father is watching after you. He's designed a plan for a wounded man, a wounded woman to still take the city. For someone that's been through hurts, abuse, dysfunction to still accomplish dreams, to still have great relationships, to still live a blessed, fulfilled life.
If we're honest, we've all been wounded in some way. People do us wrong, sometimes even good people may not give us what we needed. Don't get discouraged, God has a plan. He had Joshua do what their fathers should've done. The people that should've done it for you may not be here, but God has a Joshua for you. He's going to send the right you didn't get.
There was a young man in a dysfunctional environment. His parents met in rehab, they both struggled with addictions, and they weren't in any position to have a baby, but this young man came along. They saw him as a mistake, an accident. But God knew what before you were formed in your mother's womb, God not only knew you, but he knew who your parents would be, he knew what family you would be born into. He's already come up with a plan for you to overcome every obstacle. He's already designed the strategy for you to break out of the mold and set a new standard. He's already lined up your Joshua's, the right people to help give you what you didn't get.
This young man never heard his father say that he loved him or that he was proud of him. In his teens, his father walked out of his life when he needed him the most. He was dealing with abandonment, rejection. At 18, he was so confused, so distraught, he went into his basement and got his shotgun out. He was an avid hunter, very experienced with guns. He pointed the barrel toward his head, pulled the trigger, but the gun didn't go off. He was puzzled, couldn't figure it out. He reset everything, double-checked it, pulled the trigger again, still wouldn't go off.
At that moment, he felt a presence fill the room with love like he had never felt before. He said, "It was like I could 'you're valuable. I need you, I love you.'" What his earthly father didn't give him, he could hear his Heavenly Father giving him, and that day strongholds were broken in his mind.
Like him, maybe you faced abandonment, disappointments, bad breaks, abuse. It doesn't have to stop you. You may be wounded. The people that should've been empowering you, speaking life to you did just the opposite, but God has a plan for the wounded to still do great things. People may have rejected you, but God has accepted you. They may call you a mistake, God calls you a masterpiece. They may have left you out, God has not forgotten about you. He has you in the palm of his hand. He's going to make up for what you didn't get.
Today, that young man, he's the pastor of a church in another state doing great things. People can't stop your destiny. How you were raised, what family you come from, who did you wrong, God has taken that all into account. Don't live with a victim mentality. People may not have given you what they should have, but the Good Father, the God who knew you before you were born, he's not only going to make it up to you, but he's going to make the enemy pay if it had never happened.
In the scripture, there's a young man named Ishmael. He's the child that Abraham had out of wedlock with his maid Hagar. God promised Abraham and Sarah a baby, but they got in a hurry, tried to help God out, and Ishmael was born, but he wasn't the promised child. This caused all kinds of strife and division. Sarah was mad at Abraham. She started treating Hagar badly. Abraham was trying to keep both women happy, and you know that's impossible.
Year after year went by with all this dysfunction. Sarah finally had her baby. Isaac, the promised child, was born. When she had this child, she realized she didn't need Hagar anymore, and she didn't want Ishmael around. Every time she saw Ishmael, he reminded her of Abraham's mistake. Ishmael had to pay the price to do with.
Sometimes, it's not that people don't like you, they don't like who you remind them of. They're disrespectful, they're short with you because of who your father is, because of a relative. They had a falling out, a breakup, now you're caught between the two. Sarah told Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. He wasn't going to do it until the Lord came to him and said, "Listen to your wife and do it".
I can imagine Ishmael was outside, playing with his brother Isaac, then Abraham came over, said, "Ishmael, come with me. You and your mother are going on a trip". Ishmael was confused, thinking, "That's strange". Abraham sent them out into the desert with a loaf of bread and a bottle of water.
Now, Abraham was a wealthy man. He could've sent them out with animals, with a large food supply, with help so they could make it at least to the next city, but he sent them out basically with a sandwich and a bottle of water. Put yourself in Ishmael's shoes. He didn't do anything wrong. He didn't choose to be born into this dysfunctional family. He couldn't help it that he wasn't the promised child, he couldn't change the fact that he reminded Sarah of Abraham's mistake. All these things that he had no control over, it looked like he had been dealt an unfair hand.
Like Ishmael, you may have come into situations that put you at a disadvantage, where there was dysfunction, abuse, poverty. You couldn't help it, you were born into it. Now, you're having to deal with consequences from other people's poor choices. Stay encouraged, the Good Father sees what's happening. God is a God of justice. It's not how you start that matters, it's how you finish. And the odds may be against you, but the Most High God is for you.
Ishmael went out into the desert abandoned, confused, rejected. The man he had known, his father, the man that had taken care of him, provided for him suddenly turned on him, said, "I don't want you in my life anymore". Ran out of food, ran out of water. They were about to die, and Hagar sent Ishmael over by himself. She didn't want to see him starve to death.
If this was the end of the story, we could try to justify it by saying, "Well, he was Abraham's mistake. He wasn't the promised child". That would make sense if God wasn't the Good Father. Forsaken, Ishmael began to cry. The scripture says, "God heard the cries of Ishmael". Not the cries of his mom, not the cries of Abraham, God heard the cries of this young man born into dysfunction.
With all kinds of things that he had no control over, what did God say? "Too bad, Ishmael. You got the wrong family. You came one child too soon, just accept it". God had a plan for this young man. He said, "Ishmael, I'm going to bring out of you a great nation". Even though he wasn't the promised child, even though his parents made a mess of his life, God said in effect, "Ishmael, I've seen all the injustice, I know you've had bad breaks, I know people put you at a disadvantage. But don't worry, I'm going to make it up to you. I'm going to do something great with your life. I'm going to bring a nation out of you".
God was showing us that even if you have parents that blew it, even if you had people that put you at a disadvantage, addictions, abuse, poverty, you had no control, don't get discouraged, God knows how to bring greatness out of a great mess. And if you'll do like Ishmael and not complain, not give up on a dream, "This is not fair," instead go to God. If you'll do this, the Good Father, he'll not only hear your call, but he'll make more out of your life than you've ever imagined.
If Ishmael were standing here today, he would tell you, "You may have had bad breaks, life may have dealt you an unfair hand, but it doesn't have to stop you. Don't live with a victim mentality".
We can all find some reason to let what's happened in the past limit our future. Abraham was the father of faith, but he didn't treat his son right. A good person may have done you wrong. People are human, they make mistakes. Why don't you let them off the hook? Quit trying to make people pay you back, and go to God. He'll pay you back. God knows how to bring greatness out of dysfunction. That means great relationships, great talent, great opportunities, great success.
In 1973, a baby boy was born in Cincinnati to a young African-American mother and her husband. The relationship was very rocky and the father didn't live at home. These parents divorced when the little boy was 4 years old. This father wasn't involved with his son. He never attended his events. In fact, the young man only saw his father four times.
He wasn't popular in school. He was made fun of because of his looks. He had a disease that caused him to lose his hair. He felt alone and forsaken, but the Good Father was watching after him. And even though his earthly father wasn't involved, he had an amazing mother. She would take him to church every week and pray over him.
At 13 years of age, sitting in church, he felt the call to preach. At 21, he took a step of faith and preached his first sermon. Today, 20 years later, John Grey is speaking to the world.
You may have had a rough start, the odds are against you. The Good Father sees what's happening. He knows what you didn't get. He knows who wasn't there for you. He's taken into consideration the hurt, the loneliness, the bad breaks. He has a plan not to just bring you out, but to bring you out better. Now, don't live with a victim mentality, don't give up on your dreams. There may be some dysfunction in your past, we all have some. But the Good Father has amazing things in your future. And I believe and declare, bring greatness out of a great mess. Like the Israelites, he's going to bring down walls easier than you thought. And like John, he's going to be a father to the fatherless and take you to the fullness of your destiny.