Joel Osteen — The King Is Looking For You
I want to talk to you today about "The King is looking for you". Life has a way of pushing our dreams down. We can make mistakes, get off course, we're not where we thought we'd be. It's easy to live guilty, condemned, and down on ourselves. Sometimes it wasn't our fault. Another person, because of what they've done, put us at a disadvantage. It left hurts and scars. Now it's affecting our self-image, our sense of confidence.
Too often, we go through life nursing our wounds, blaming other people, sitting on the sidelines, making excuses. But nothing that's happened to you is a surprise to God. He saw every injustice, every bad break, he knew every mistake we would ever make. And God is not in the condemning business. He's in the restoration business. He wants to put you back on the right path so you can still become who you were created to be.
You may be on the sidelines thinking, "Look what I've been through. I've had these bad breaks. I'm stuck in life". Can I tell you the King is looking for you? The God who created the universe is about to pick you back up, breathe new life into your dreams and propel you toward your destiny.
This is what happened to a young boy in the scripture named Mephibosheth. He was the grandson of King Saul and the son of Jonathan, David's best friend. He was born into royalty, destined to one day take the throne. His future looked so bright. But at the age of 5 everything changed. Both his father and his grandfather were killed in a battle on the same day. After that enemy army finished off King Saul and his men, they turned toward the city and were going to wipe out all of Saul's family.
When word reached back at home, Mephibosheth's nurse grabbed him as fast as she could, took off running, trying to hide him, spare his life. But as she was going down some stairs, she lost her footing, tripped and fell. Mephibosheth hit the ground so hard that he broke both legs and became crippled. He would never walk again.
Sometimes in life, well meaning people can hurt us. The nurse was trying to do the right thing, she had good intentions but she tripped. Her mistake cost him his mobility. Life is not always fair. Like Mephibosheth, somebody may have put you at a disadvantage. They didn't mean to, they would take it back if they could, but they tripped and now you struggle with addictions, with bad habits, with things that were passed down. Or they weren't there to protect you when you needed them the most. Now you struggle with your self-worth, with your sense of value. They tripped, but we have to pay for their mistake.
Mephibosheth became lame in both of his feet. If we're honest, all of us have some area of lameness to overcome, something that could hold us back. It's easy to make excuses, especially when it wasn't our fault. "Joel, if they hadn't have tripped. If they would've raised me better. If my loved one wouldn't have died. If that coach would've treated me fairly". We can blame the past, blame how we were raised, blame what we didn't get, but all making excuses will do is keep you from your destiny. You have to take the hand you've been dealt and make the most of it. It may not have been fair, but God knows how to turn it and use it to your advantage.
Too many people, though, go through life nursing their wounds. Always thinking about what they didn't get. "If momma would've given me this, if daddy would've been there for me, if they would've supported me, if they would've encouraged me". Most of the time, the reason momma and daddy didn't give it is because they didn't have it to give. Nobody gave it to them. The problem with blaming others is the people you're blaming are blaming the people that raised them and they're blaming the people that raised them. Why don't you rise up and put an end to that negative cycle? You can be the difference maker! You can be the one to set a new standard for you family.
In an instant, Mephibosheth's whole world turned upside down. He not only lost his father and grandfather, not only would he no longer take the throne, but he was crippled. He couldn't walk. How was he going to make a living? How was he going to take care of himself? He ended up living in exile in hiding in a place called Lo-Debar. That was one of the poorest, most run down cities of that day. Lo-Debar means "Without pasture". There was no greenery, no trees. You couldn't grow anything there. It was a wasteland. Here, Mephibosheth is the grandson of the King. He has Royalty in his blood, but he's living in the slums, barely surviving.
Here's the key, your location doesn't change your identity. Mephibosheth was living in Lo-Debar, but he was still Royalty. Other people may not have seen it. He could've thought, "Nothing special about me anymore", but none of that changed who he really was.
See, our son, Jonathan is an Osteen in the church and an Osteen outside the church. An Osteen on a mountain, an Osteen in a valley, an Osteen in Houston, an Osteen in Lo-Debar. His location doesn't change who he is. In the same way, when you gave your life to Christ, you were born into a Royal family. The most high God breathed his life into you. He put a crown of favor on your head. The scripture says, "He's made us Kings and priests unto him".
You may kind of feel like you're living in Lo-Debar today, things coming against you, circumstances you don't like. Let me encourage you, nothing that's happened to you has changed your identity. No person that did you wrong, no bad break, no mistake you've made has changed your name. You are still a child of the most high God. You still have Royal blood flowing through your veins. You may be in Lo-Debar, but don't let Lo-Debar get in you. That's where you are, that's not who you are.
Mephibosheth thought he was stuck. And practically speaking, he couldn't get out. He had no family, nobody to help him. It looked like that was his lot in life. Years later, King David was on the throne. One night in the palace, he began thinking about all God had done, reminiscing about old times and he remembered his good friend, Jonathan. How much he loved him. All of a sudden, he had a desire to be good to Jonathan's family. He asked his staff if anyone was still alive from the house of Saul. They said, "The only one we think is alive is Jonathan's youngest son. His name is Mephibosheth, but he's crippled and he's living in Lo-Debar". David said, "Go get him right now and bring him to the palace".
I can imagine a dozen of David's top military officers take off to Lo-Debar. When they arrive, it's big news. The whole city is buzzing. Everybody's talking; of all places, the King has sent men into Lo-Debar, the slums, the outcast. One of the officials asked sternly, "Where is Mephibosheth"? They point them in the right direction. Mephibosheth hears this firm knocking on the door, makeshift slum door and he's afraid and thinks, "Who could that be"? He scoots over on the ground and barely opens it. They ask, "Are you Mephibosheth"? He answers cautiously, "Yes, I am". The guard says, "Come with us, the King is looking for you".
His heart sinks. He thinks, "Oh great, they finally found me. Now I'm as good as dead". He said, "I'm sorry, I can't come. I can't walk. Don't you see? I'm crippled". The guard said, "Don't worry, we're going to carry you. Now he's really worried, thinking "This King wants me so badly that he sent people to the slums to not only find me, but now they're going to carry me to the palace? I must really be in trouble".
Jesus told a parable about a shepherd that had a hundred sheep. If one of those sheep went astray, the shepherd would leave the 99 to go look for the 1. He would search and search, night and day, high and low. He wouldn't return until he found that 1 lost sheep. When life has pushed you down, somebody tripped and put you at a disadvantage, or maybe you've made a mistake, you're off course, you don't think you could ever reach your destiny, in the natural that may be true, but the good news is the shepherd has left the 99 and he's coming after you.
You know why? Because your home is not Lo-Debar. Living addicted is not your home. Living depressed, angry, in self-pity, always in lack, that's not where you belong. People around you may be that way, but there's something different about you. You are Royalty. You have the DNA of almighty God. Even when you can't get there by yourself, God is so good; he'll have somebody to carry you, somebody to help you do what you could not do on your own-a friend, a neighbor; even a stranger. He's looking for you. Here's the thing about God. He's not going to give up on you until he sees you in your rightful place. He doesn't just try once or twice, he's going to keep looking, keep pursuing, keep calling. He loves you too much to leave you alone. He knows who you really are. He's the one that breathed life into you.
Mephibosheth finally arrived at the palace. The guard set him in the entry way and he notified King David. He was nervous, afraid, worried. He asked the guard, "Are you sure he sent for me"? "Yes, we're sure". "Well, does he know there's something wrong with me? Does he know I'm crippled? That I can't walk"? "Yes, he knows that". He's confused, thinking, "Why would he send for me? What do I have to offer him? The only thing that makes sense is he's going to pay me back for what my grandfather tried to do to him".
He had heard how again and again his grandfather, King Saul, had tried to kill David. About that time, the door opens, the guard comes to attention, it's the moment he's dreaded. David comes walking in, Mephibosheth falls flat on his face laying prostrate to show respect.
David sees him shaking there, he says, "Mephibosheth, don't be afraid. I didn't come to harm you. I brought you here to be good to you; to restore you. All the land that belonged to your father, Jonathan, and all the land that belonged to your grandfather, King Saul, I am giving it back to you. Not only that, from this time forward, every night you will eat dinner at my table with my family". If that wasn't enough, he said, "Mephibosheth, look around at all these people that are helping me: the guards that brought you here, the staff that's waiting on us, these assistants that are at my command. Now they all work for you as well. They will farm your land. They will do the work and bring you the profits".
Mephibosheth was overwhelmed. He thought to himself, "You mean you didn't bring me here to condemn me, to tell me what a failure I am, to criticize me for my brokenness, for my lameness? But all that time you were looking for me was to restore me? To heal me? To bless me? To make me feel whole again"?
That's the kind of God we serve. Sometimes when we hear the King is looking for us, we think, "Man, I'm hiding. I don't want God to find me. I've got a lot of weaknesses, Joel. I'm not where I should be in life. I feel bad enough about myself, I don't need somebody else condemning me". This is where we get religion mixed up with who God really is.
Religion can make God hard and mean and angry, like God's waiting for you to make a mistake, like he's ready to push you down even further. But God is not looking for you to condemn you. He's not looking for you to judge you. He's looking for you to restore you. He wants to give you back all that belongs to you, the joy, the peace, the honor, the freedom, the abundance, the victory. He wants to pay you back for the unfair things that have happened. He's not going to push you down, tell you how bad you are.
"Why are you limping? Why are you broken? Why are you still struggling in that area"? The Psalmist said, "God heals the broken-hearted, he binds up their wounds". Jesus said, "He came to set at liberty those who are bruised". When you've been bruised by life, when you're hurt, it's easy to get stuck in Lo-Debar, feel sorry for yourself, give up on your dreams. God is looking for you to bring you out of Lo-Debar, to heal your hurts, to make you feel whole again.
"Well, Joel, this sounds good but Mephibosheth was crippled because somebody else tripped. That's why God restored him. I'm crippled because of my own poor choices. I blew it, I can't expect God to be good to me". This is what mercy is all about. God doesn't give us what we deserve or none of us would've had a chance.
Like Mephibosheth, we think, "Does God know what's wrong with me? Does he know my failures? Did he know my weaknesses, what I'm struggling with"? The good news: God knows it all and he still loves you. He still wants to be good to you. God doesn't write us off when we get off course. He doesn't disqualify us. Just the opposite, he comes looking for you. I've heard it said, "When you make a mistake, God doesn't love you the same. He loves you a little bit more". He turns up the intensity. He's not going to leave you alone until he sees you completely restored.
We see this principle in the parable of the prodigal son. The young man asked his father for his inheritance. He left home and wasted it all partying, living wild, making poor choices. He ended up living in the hog pen, having to eat hog food. That was Lo-Debar, so to speak. Couldn't get any worse than that. But unlike Mephibosheth, this was his own fault. He had nobody to blame except himself.
Sitting in the hog pen, depressed, lonely, bitter, the accuser kept bombarding his mind, saying, "Too bad, you blew it, you had your chance, you'll never be happy again". His mind was filled with condemning thoughts, but down in his spirit he heard something whispering, "Your father is looking for you. He'll take you back. He'll give you your position. He's longing to see you". His spirit was saying, "Come back home". But his mind was saying, "Are you crazy? Your father's never going to have anything to do with you. You don't deserve it".
He finally he got his nerve up and said, "That's it I'm not staying in this hog pen, I'm not living in Lo-Debar anymore. This is not who I am. My father has servants that live better than me. I'm going to go back home". When he got close to the house, his father saw him from a great distance, took off running toward his son and he hugged him.
The son hung his head in shame. He said, "Dad, I'm a failure, I blew it, I don't deserve to be called your son. I was just kind of hoping that you'd hire me back as one of your servants". His father looked at him and said, "What are you talking about? You're my son. Nothing you've done has changed your name. Living in that hog pen didn't change your identity. It changed how you smell but we can take care of that". He told his staff, "Go get the best robe and put it on my son". One translation says, "A robe of honor". Here's a guy that's been living in the hog pen but now he's about to get a robe of honor.
That doesn't make sense. This is what mercy is all about. It doesn't make sense. We don't deserve it, it's just the goodness of God. Think about this: the whole time the son was in the hog pen, the father had a robe of honor waiting for him. How long are you going to let accusing voices keep you from your robe of honor? How long are you going to stay in Lo-Debar when there's a seat waiting for you at the King's table? Why don't you rise up like this young man, say, "Today is a new day, I'm getting rid of the guilt, the condemnation, the self pity. I'm done blaming others, blaming my past. I'm going to step into the freedom, the wholeness, the victory God has in store".
The father not only gave his son the robe of honor, but he got a ring out and put it on his son's finger. The ring represented his authority. In other words, the son was restored back to who he was before he left. It's one thing to come back but to have a negative mark by your name. "Don't give him any benefits, no ring for him, you remember what he did, all that time in the hog pen, made our family look bad". That's not the way God is. He not only restores, but he makes you whole.
You may feel like you're off course today, sitting on the sidelines, thinking, "Joel, I'm just glad to be in Lo-Debar the way I've lived". No Lo-Debar is not your home. The King is looking for you. He has a robe of honor. He has a ring of authority. Don't let the condemning voices convince you that you've blown it too badly. "Look at you, you're still limping, you're still struggling, you're still broken, you don't deserve it". It's not because of who you are; it's because of whose you are. Your name hasn't changed. You're a child of the most high God. You belong in the palace.
When my father was very young he got married. Unfortunately, that marriage didn't work out. He was devastated. He resigned from his church, the denominational leaders told him he would never pastor again. He thought his days of ministry were over. But people don't determine your destiny, God does. People will write you off, judge you, condemn you, but God is not in the condemning business, he's in the restoration business. The scripture says, "God's calling for your life is irrevocable". That means God doesn't change his mind. We may make mistakes, people may trip, put us at a disadvantage, but that does not stop God's plan.
My dad got out of the ministry. For two years, he started selling insurance, the whole time he was miserable. One day, like Mephibosheth, the King came looking for him. He had to shake off the guilt, the condemnation. Every voice said, "You're a failure, you don't deserve it, God's never going to use you". His attitude was, "No, I'm not staying in Lo-Debar. I know God's mercy is bigger than this mistake". God not only brought him to the palace so to speak, but God restored what belonged to him. He got back in the ministry, pastored Lakewood for forty years, met my mom, they were married for fifty-four years.
What am I saying? Don't let other people convince you to settle in Lo-Debar. You may have a limp. Things didn't turn out the way you thought. You went through a disappointment. That's all right. God wants to restore you back to your rightful position. Not a second best life, not this is good enough. He wants you to become everything you were created to be. Now you have to get in agreement with God.
Mephibosheth could have said, "No, I'm not going to the palace. You're going to have to drag me there". If he would have gone bitter, angry, chip on his shoulder, complaining, David would have said, "Man, take him away, I'm not going to have anything to do with him". He went in humility, knowing that he was at David's mercy. When you humble yourself and say, "God, I know I don't deserve this, I've blown it, but God, I believe you are full of mercy, that you can still get me to where I'm supposed to be". That's when God will raise you back up, put you on path toward the fullness of your destiny.
Years ago my father went to a meeting at a friend of ours church across town. He arrived late so he sat in the back. In a few minutes, this young man came in that looked very troubled, very distraught. After the meeting, my father was planning on talking to him, to encourage him, maybe pray with him. But in the middle of the service, this young man got up and walked out. My dad felt so strongly about it, he got up and went after him. He searched and searched through the lobbies and couldn't find him. Went out in the parking lot and looked and looked, walked around the building, still couldn't find him.
Just when he was about to give up he decided to check a restroom. He walked in; there were people there. He couldn't see their faces so he stood over by the sinks. In a few seconds this young man walked around the corner. His eyes got so big when he saw my father. My dad said, "I don't mean to get in your business. I know you don't know me, but God has a great plan for your life. You are extremely valuable to him".
Tears began to come down his cheeks. He said, "My life is so messed up. I'm addicted to so many drugs, I don't think I can take it anymore". He planned on coming to church that one last time, that night, going back and taking so many pills just to end it. He told later how he saw my father sitting down the row from him and he especially noticed the shoes that he was wearing. He said, "When I got up to leave, I saw you coming after me and I did all I could to get away but everywhere I went I saw those shoes following me".
What was happening? The King was looking for him. You can run, but you can't get away from God. He'll keep pursuing you even if he has to find you in a restroom, find you in a club, find you getting high; find you living in Lo-Debar. He knows where you are and he's not going to give up until he sees you in the palace, where you belong, where you're restored, where you're fulfilling your purpose. That night was a turning point in his life. He got free from the drugs. He went on to become the pastor of a church. Today that young man is with us on the front row over forty years later, pastor Al Jandl, Living Stones Church. They've touched people all over the world.
Maybe today you think you're too far gone, made too many mistakes, been through too much. Can I tell you the King is looking for you? Not to condemn you but to restore you, to bless you, to push you into your purpose. Life may have thrown you some curves; you're not where you thought you'd be. But remember your location doesn't change your identity. No matter where you are, you're still a child of the most high God. He has a robe of honor, a ring of authority. There's a seat waiting for you at the King's table.
The great thing about God is even when you can't get there by yourself, he'll have somebody to carry you. Just like David decided to be good to Mephibosheth, I believe and declare people are going to start being good to you, favor that you didn't deserve, things falling into place. You're coming out of brokenness into wholeness, out of Lo-Debar into the palace, the fullness of your destiny in Jesus' name.