Joel Osteen — The Goodness of God
I want to talk to you today about the goodness of God. Just like the Sun radiates heat, God radiates goodness. It's not just what he does; it's who He is. God's very nature is good. It's important that we recognize God's goodness.
When my father went to be with the Lord, the critics told us that Lakewood would never make it. But we didn't go under. We went over. Today we are stronger than ever. That's the goodness of God. The medical report said my mother had a few weeks to live. That was over 30 years ago. Today my mom is alive and healthy: the goodness of God. I walked into a jewelry store and met Victoria: the goodness of God. Our children are healthy: the goodness of God. I don't look like my brother Paul: the goodness of God. That's his mercy too.
The scripture says, "Every good gift comes from our Father in Heaven". Large or small. If you're in a crowded parking lot, a car backs out, you get a front row space: the goodness of God. You're going through a difficult time. A friend stops by out of the blue and cheers you up: the goodness of God.
I was in the mall the other day buying some tennis shoes. A lady came up that I had never met. She said, "Do you have a coupon?' I said, "No. I don't". She said, "Here. Take this. I have an extra one. It's 40% off". That wasn't just a lucky break. That's the goodness of our God.
The scripture talks about how God was in their midst but they knew him not. Too many times God is working in our lives, showing us favor, protecting us, sending us healing, but we don't recognize God's goodness. Don't take things for granted. It wasn't a coincidence that you met your spouse and fell in love. God was directing your steps. It wasn't a lucky break that you got that job. It was God's hand of favor. The fact that your children are strong and healthy is not just good fortune. That's God being good to you.
All through the day we should be saying, "Thank you, Lord, for your goodness. Thank you for my health. Thank you for my spouse. Thank you for the opportunity that you have given me". Some of you, if it had not been for the goodness of God, you wouldn't be alive today. If it had not been for God's goodness you would still be addicted. But look at you know. You're free. You're clean. You're helping others. If it had not been for God's goodness, you could have had a nervous breakdown with all you've been through. But look at you now. You're peaceful. You're beautiful. You're strong. You're confident. You're happy. You're victorious.
I don't know about you but I'm going to thank God for his goodness. I'm going to recognize his hand of favor. I'm going to see the extraordinary in what seems ordinary. The fact that I can walk is the goodness of God. The fact that I can see, I can think clearly, I have health, I have opportunity, I have family; that's not just fate. That's the Creator of the universe breathing in our direction. Now let's don't be like the people back then and have God's goodness all around us yet we don't realize it. We take it for granted. No, any good thing that happens, "Thank you, Lord, for your goodness".
There's this man that I really wanted to meet. He works in the television industry and he is very influential. I've had this desire for a long time. I believed that God would bring our paths together. Year after year had gone by and it didn't look like anything was happening, no kind of connection.
A couple of months ago I called a lady that I know out of state. We were talking about a project. She said, "Joel, I'd love to help you. Do you mind if I take this to my business partner"? It just so happened her business partner was this man I'd been hoping to meet. Recently I spent the whole day with him in his home. That's not a lucky break. That's the goodness of God.
Right now God is going before you lining up the right people, the right breaks. He is arranging things in your favor. You need to be on the lookout for God's goodness. Our attitude should be, "I can't wait to see what God is going to do today". Anything good that happens be quick to give God the credit. It may not be something big, just something small. You all of a sudden have a good idea. "Lord, thank you for that idea. I know it came from you". You get finished with a project at work sooner than you expected. "Lord, thank you for your goodness".
God is constantly working, showing us his goodness, but too many times we don't recognize it. We're waiting for the big, spectacular things. We're waiting for the Red Seas to part. And yes, that happens from time to time but if you'll have the right perspective you'll see the goodness of God even in simple things.
The other day Victoria put on some eggs to boil. She wanted hardboiled eggs. She had to leave and she asked me to turn them off and I said I would, but I got busy doing a whole bunch of other things and talking on the phone. Two hours later, out of the blue, I'm on a conversation. The thought comes to my mind, "Turn off the eggs". I ran into the kitchen as fast as I could. The whole place was in smoke. No more water in the pan.
She wanted hardboiled eggs. I can promise you, these eggs were hardboiled. You could have used them for baseballs. But no telling what would have happened if I would have waited a couple of more hours. The whole place could have burned down. Well, you say, "Joel, that's just your mind bringing that thought back to your memory. No big deal. Nothing special about that". That may be the way you choose to see it but I choose to see it as the goodness of my God.
I know the Creator of the universe is directing our steps. He said his plans for us are for good and not evil. Whenever something good happens I'm going to give God thanks. When I see favor, "Thank you, Lord". When I'm reminded of something I need to do, "Thank you, Lord". When somebody lets me in on the freeway, "Thank you, Lord". When the temperature comes below 100, "Thank you, Lord". When I'm protected, "Thank you, Lord". When I see the breakthrough, "Thank you, Lord". Get in the habit of thanking God for his goodness".
Moses said, "God, show me your glory". God said in effect, "Okay, Moses. I'll show it to you, but you can't see my face. The way you'll know that I've been there is you will see my goodness". Whenever something good happens, large or small, God is saying, "That's a sign of my presence". If you're seeing good, you're seeing God. I'm convinced we see God all day long but many times we don't recognize it.
A few weeks ago I was outside my house standing under a big oak tree talking with some people. You know how here in Houston there has been a drought, hardly any rain and the trees are very stressed. After we got through talking, we walked away. About ten seconds later this big branch fell right where we were standing. If we had still been there we would all be in the hospital. What caused us to walk away at just the right time? That wasn't a lucky break. That was the goodness of God directing our steps.
Well, you say, "Joel I had an accident this week. I totaled my car. It must not work for me". No, if it had not been for God's goodness you could have lost more than your car. You could have lost your life. You could be in the hospital. Have the right perspective. Thank God for his hand of protection.
Years ago Victoria and I were on a large boat with my parents and some friends of theirs. These friends were driving the boat. Our son Jonathan was just a little baby, less than a year old. We had him in a carrier sitting on the side bench by the outside rail of the boat. We were just enjoying the beautiful boat ride, the ocean, talking, laughing, visiting.
Victoria was minding her own business when something said to her so strongly, "You need to move Jonathan from the side to the center of the boat and hold on to him". She didn't say a word. She just went over and picked him up and took him to the center of the boat. About a minute later the boat hit a huge wave just right and everything and everyone went flying. If he would have still been by the outside rail he certainly would have been thrown overboard. All we could say was, "Thank you, Lord, for your goodness". We recognized God's hand of protection.
When something good happens you're seeing God. Make sure you thank him for it. Make sure you give him the credit. Some of you don't think that God is doing anything in your life. But I am convinced God is constantly showing us his goodness. My question is, "Are you recognizing it"? Look around this week. Be more aware. The scripture says, "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good". If you're going to taste God's goodness you have to realize that every good break, every time you were protected, every door that opened, every advantage that you've had, that's God working in your life. Don't take it for granted.
It's like this man I heard about. He was driving around a crowded parking lot trying to get a space, going around and around. He got so frustrated he finally said, "God, if you will give me a parking spot I will go to church every Sunday". Right then, immediately, a car backed out. He pulled in. He said, "Never mind, God. I just found one". That's the way we are a lot of times. We forget that every good thing comes from God. God is the one that caused the "Lucky break". God caused you to be there at the right place at the right time.
How many times have we all said, "Wow! That car almost hit me. Another split second and I would have had an accident". That's not a coincidence. That's the goodness of God. Make sure you thank him for it.
I have these friends that have two sons. When their oldest son was a little baby they would put him in the bed with them at night right in between them and let him sleep there. They had done this for many months. One night they were all sleeping in the bed just like normal. This young man, my friend, he was suddenly awakened by a bright, bright light. He thought it must be lightening outside. He had never seen anything that bright. He laid in the bed just looking up. He saw these sparkles on the ceiling, kind of like stars that were twinkling. He was kind of dazed like he was dreaming.
For some reason he reached over to check on his little baby and the baby wasn't there. Somehow the baby had worked his way down to the end of the bed by their feet and fallen off and he was caught in the covers face down. He jumped up and got the baby. He was totally blue, barely breathing. They gave him CPR. The paramedics rushed in. Long story short, the baby was fine. Today he's a teenager, healthy and whole.
But here's my point. Had my friend not been awakened by that bright light their child wouldn't have made it. What's interesting is there wasn't any lightening outside. There wasn't any storm.
Friends, that's the kind of God we serve. He's a good God. He's a caring God. He's watching after you and your family. Every one of you can look back and see the times God protected you, spared you from an accident, gave you a promotion, caused you to be at the right place at the right time. Don't ever get tired of thanking God for his goodness. Remember your victories. Tell your children. Tell your neighbors. Tell your friends. Keep bragging on the goodness of God.
I've learned the more you brag on God's goodness the more of God's goodness you're going to see. When you go around saying, "Let me tell you what God did for me. Let me tell you how God healed my mother of cancer. Let me tell you how God protected our son on that boat. Let me tell you how God gave us this beautiful facility".
The Psalmist said, "I recall the many miracles God has done for me. I cannot stop thinking about them. They are constantly in my thoughts". Too many times today instead of remembering our victories we're remembering our defeats, our failures, our disappointments. You've got to switch over and do like the Psalmist and start remembering the times God protected you, the times God showed you favor, the times God made a way when it looked like there was no way. That's going to cause faith to rise in your hearts.
You'll know if God did it for you back then he can certainly do it for you right now. When the people of Israel were headed toward the Promised Land, the scripture talks about how God sent them, "Dew in the desert". In the morning when the sunlight hit the dew it formed manna, something like bread. Now you wouldn't think there would be dew in the desert. It's hot and dry, hardly any growth. But that's the goodness of God. He sent dew in the desert and that dew brought them their provision.
Sometimes in life you may feel like you're in the desert. In other words, business is slow, medical report isn't good, you feel lonely. But be encouraged today. The God we serve knows how to bring dew in the desert. He knows how to take care of you even when it doesn't look good.
When the Israelites got up each morning and went outside, their provision, their food, was at the doorsteps. They didn't have to go way, way out to get it. The provision came to them. They didn't ask for it. They didn't have to struggle to get it. They didn't have to buy it. It was simply the goodness of God.
Just like with them God has dew in the desert for every one of his children. If you will be faithful where you are and honor God with your life, there will be blessings that you don't have to go after. They will come after you. You didn't ask for it. You didn't struggle for it. You didn't deserve it. You didn't earn it. It's simply the goodness of God.
I look up and think, "How in the world did I get to where I am"? I'm not the most talented, not the most qualified. I've done my best to be faithful, to make the most with what God has given me. But I can tell you, God has sent me dew in the desert. The fact is, you can only go so high in your own strength. You can reach a certain level with your education, your talent, your ability, but it's the goodness of God that will open doors you could not open on your own.
The goodness of God will cause the right people to notice you. The goodness of God will take you places you never dreamed of. I know every one of you could say like me that God has given you favor, promotion; increase. He has made things happen for you that you could not make happen by yourself. It wasn't just your talent, your ability, your hard work, although that's important. But this was simply the goodness of God. It was God's favor giving you what you didn't have to struggle for.
That's what it says in Psalm 44 verse 3, in the message translation, talking about the Israelites, "We didn't have to work for the land. It was your gift. You gave it to us smiling". Notice how good God is. He doesn't just give it to you. He does it with a smile. He takes pleasure in seeing you succeed.
That's what happened to a young lady in the scripture named Ruth. She was out in the fields working, gathering up leftover wheat, minding her own business. God caused the owner of that field, a man named Boaz, to notice Ruth. You don't know who God is going to cause to notice you. God can cause people to be good to you. He can cause that manager to give you a promotion. He can cause a friend to show you favor.
God controls the whole universe. He caused Boaz to notice Ruth and Boaz told his workers to leave wheat on the ground on purpose for Ruth. In other words, leave her provision so she doesn't have to struggle for it. Ruth came into dew in the desert. The provision came to her. She didn't ask for it. She didn't have to work for it. She didn't earn it. She didn't even know who Boaz was. It was simply the goodness of God.
You may think that you've reached your limits; you've gone as far as you can go in your own natural ability and that may be true but you don't know what God is up to. You don't know who God is speaking to right now about you. You don't know who is about to show you favor. You don't know the amazing breaks that God has coming your way. Don't sit back and think, "Oh, I've seen my best days". No, God has dew in your desert. He has promotion, increase, opportunity that you didn't ask for, you didn't have to go after. You couldn't have made it happen in your own strength. It's simply the goodness of God.
I was reading about this salesman. He was going door to door selling vacuum cleaners. That's what he did for a living. He knocked on this one door and a young man answered. He went into his two-minute sales pitch. The young man said, "I don't need a vacuum cleaner. I need a kidney. I'm waiting for a transplant". There were over 500 people in line in front of him. The salesman said, "I'm sorry to have bothered you". He walked away. As he was leaving something said to him very strongly, "You need to donate one of your kidneys to this young man. I sent you here for a reason; not to sell a vacuum cleaner, but to give him his health back".
All of a sudden he had a strong desire to donate that kidney. On the front lawn of that young man's house he called his wife, the salesman did. She said, "Fine". He called his father. He said, "Fine". This salesman went back to the door, knocked on it, told the young man, "I want to give you one of my kidneys. Let's go to the doctor". He came into dew in the desert. The provision. He didn't have to go after it. It came to him.
Friends, God knows what you need and he knows how to get it to you. It just so happened that salesman was the perfect match. He donated the kidney. Today, both men are healthy and strong. You don't know, somebody may come knocking on your door disguised as a salesman but they're going to end up being the answer to your prayer. They're going to show you favor. God is going to cause them to be good to you.
Now you need to get your hopes up. You may think you've reached your limits, gone as far as you can go in your own natural ability. That's okay. God is saying, "I've got something bigger coming your way. I've got dew in the desert, blessings that you don't have to go after. They're going to come after you". God is saying, "I'm going to cause people to notice you. I'm going to cause people to be good to you. I'm going to cause opportunity to come knocking on your door". Get your hopes up. Believe for it. David said, "What would have happened to me if I had not believed that I would see the goodness of God in the land of the living"?
I know this couple. They bought a small home in this neighborhood. They were very happy. God had blessed them. They were doing their best to honor God and enjoying life. The husband is a coach and the wife is an accountant. They have two beautiful children. In their careers they had reached their limits. It didn't look like they could rise any higher.
But one day a developer knocked on their door. This man, he told how he wanted to buy their house and twelve others around them and put in this big shopping center. They weren't interested in selling. They said, "no thanks. We love our house and we love this neighborhood. We're not interested". He said, "You haven't even let me make the offer yet". He offered them over 20 times what they paid for their house. It's funny. When they heard that, they said, "You know what? We never really did like our house". It's amazing how quickly they became unattached to that neighborhood. They sold their property. God has blessed them more than they could ever imagine. That's dew in the desert; God's goodness coming to you.
Well, you say, "Joel, it's never going to happen to me, especially in this economy, with this stock market, with all the unemployment". No, it says in Isaiah 60:2, "Darkness will cover the earth and dense darkness the people". That's kind of where we are today, a lot of doom, gloom, pessimism. But it goes on to say, "The Lord will arise upon you and his glory will be seen on you".
This means when it gets dark, when people are discouraged, when the news reports are gloomy, God is saying, "Get ready. That's when I'm going to show you my glory". It says, "His goodness will be seen on you". In other words, God wants to make you an example. He wants your friends, relatives, co-workers, to look at you and say, "What is it with them? They're always so happy. They're so blessed. They're so peaceful, so successful". That young man that received the kidney, that was God's goodness seen on him.
The couple that sold their house for a large profit, that was the favor of God displayed in their life. Psalm 112 says, "When darkness overtakes the Godly the light will come bursting in". Notice, not trickling in, not barely making it, not little by little. No, it says it will come bursting in. That means suddenly you will see God's goodness. Suddenly you'll be promoted. Suddenly the answer comes. An unexpected knock on the door and there's the kidney you've been waiting for. Suddenly you can pay your house off.
Friends, our God is the God of the suddenlies. I know some of you have been in difficult times but I can sense in my spirit the light is about to come bursting in. Get ready for the goodness of God in a new way. Get ready for breakthroughs. Get ready for promotion. Get ready for restoration. You may have had that problem a long, long time but do you know today it could turn around? That child may have been off course for many years but today he could come back home. Suddenly things can change.
God wants his glory to be seen on you. God doesn't want us to be average, mediocre, barely making it. God wants you to stand out in the crowd. He wants you to be so blessed that everyone around you can see his goodness on you. That's what the scripture says, "Our life is to be a praise to God". In other words, God's goodness is on us so strongly, whenever we go somewhere we don't even have to say anything. But you're so blessed. You radiate so much joy, so much peace, so much victory, that your life, just your presence, is giving God praise. Every one of you has seen God's goodness in the past. Remember, if God did it for you back then he can do it for you right now. He has dew in your desert, provision that is going to come seeking you out.
Now my encouragement is three things:
1. Expect God's goodness. Get up every day looking for God's favor.
2. Recognize God's goodness. There are no coincidences, no lucky breaks. It's the goodness of God.
3. Always thank God for his goodness. Whenever something good happens, large or small, "Lord, thank you for that parking spot. Lord, thank you for that idea. Lord, thank you for sending me dew in my desert".
Have a grateful spirit. If you do this I believe and declare you're going to come into more of God's goodness. Those blessings are going to come after you. The light is going to come bursting in. God is going to open up supernatural doors. He's going to turn negative situations around. He's going to bring the right people across your path. You need to get ready. Something big is coming your way. You're going to fulfill your God-given destiny because the goodness of God is on your life.