Joel Osteen — The Power of Believing
I want to talk to you today about the power of believing. One of the greatest abilities God has given each one of us is our ability to believe. If you believe, you can be successful. If you believe, you can overcome mistakes of the past. If you believe, you can fulfill your God-given destiny. There is incredible power in what we believe. What you believe is greater than what the medical report says. Of course, we respect medical science but God has the final say. When you get in agreement with God and believe what he says about you then what you believe can supersede any natural law. What you believe is greater than what's in your bank account.
I have a friend that came to this country with nothing but the clothes on his back. Today he runs a fortune 500 company. Against all odds he believed he could do what God put in his heart. Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:19 that we would understand the incredible greatness of God's power for those who believe. Notice the power is only activated when we believe. That means right now the Creator of the universe is just waiting to release healing, restoration, favor, promotion, abundance. The only catch is we have to believe.
I think about Mary, the Mother of Christ. When she was a teenager the angel came to her and said, "You're going to have a child without knowing a man". Her first thought was, "That's impossible. That's never happened before. That defies the laws of nature". She said to the angel, "How can this be"? He answered back, "The Spirit of the Lord will come on you and cause it to happen". I love the way Mary responded. She didn't argue with him. She didn't try to talk herself out of it. She simply said, "Be it unto me even as you have said". In other words, "Let it happen. I'm a believer. I'm in agreement with God".
Sometimes, just like with Mary, God will put a promise in your heart that seems impossible, a promise that says, "You're going to be well. You're going to start a business. You're going to meet the right person and get married". It's easy to think, "It's never going to happen to me, Joel. I've been this way too long. I've made too many mistakes. The medical report is too bad. Nobody in my family has been successful".
On and on we could all come up with excuses. But I'm asking us to do like Mary. Instead of talking yourself out of it just respond with three simple words, "Lord, I believe". God says your children will be mighty in the land. "Lord, I believe". God says he is going to restore the years that were stolen. He is going to bring you to a flourishing finish. "Lord, I believe". God says whatever you touch will prosper and succeed. You will lend and not borrow; the head and never the tail.
Now don't come up with five reasons why that's not going to happen. Your response should be, "Lord, I believe". When you get in agreement with God, the incredible greatness of his power is activated.
In the scripture a man came to Jesus and said, "My little daughter is very sick. She is close to death. Will you come to my home and pray for her"? Jesus agreed. But along the way he kept getting stopped, one interruption after another. Finally word came back to him saying, "No need to come. You've waited too late. The little girl has died". The people were upset, very distraught. But Jesus said to them, Luke 8:50, "Don't be afraid. If you will only believe the little girl will be well".
Notice the phrase, "Only believe". Jesus went to the home, prayed for the little girl and she came back to life. But you too may be facing situations that seem impossible. In the natural you don't see how you could get well, how you could overcome the addiction, how your family could ever be restored. But God is saying to you what he said to them. "If you will only believe, I will turn the situation around. If you only believe, breakthroughs are headed your way".
Friends, it's not complicated. God didn't say, "If you will pray 20 hours a day. If you'll quote twelve chapters in the scripture, then I'll do it for you". No, he said, "If you will only believe". In other words, if you'll just get your mind going in the right direction and believe you can rise higher, believe you can overcome the obstacle, believe your family can be restored, believe you can do something great and make your Mark in this generation.
When you believe, the surpassing greatness of God's power is released in your life. But some of you, you're going to have to develop new habits. If you've been negative for a long time you've got to re-train your thinking from, "I can't" to "I can". From, "It won't happen," to "It will happen". From, "I'll never get well," to "God is restoring health unto me". From, "I never get any good breaks," to "God's favor surrounds me like a shield". From, "I've made too many mistakes. I'm all washed up," to "I'm redeemed. I'm forgiven. My best days are still out in front of me".
You've got to reprogram your computer. Load in some new software. It may look impossible, like it's over and done, but if you will be a believer, God will do for you what he did for this family. God will resurrect dead dreams. He will resurrect a dead relationship. God can resurrect what you thought was dead and bring those things back to life.
I'm trying to talk you in today to being a believer and not a doubter. It doesn't matter how bad it looks, how many people have told you no, how long it's been that way. Listen, God has the final say. It's not over till God says it's over. He controls the whole universe. Nothing that's happened to you is a surprise to God. No disappointment. No injustice. No failure. God saw it and he wants to take what was meant for your harm and use it to your advantage.
Now you've got to shake off the self-pity. Shake off the disappointment. Let go of what didn't work out and press forward into the new beginning God has in store. Friends, God has you in the palm of his hand. His plans for you are for good, to promote you, to heal you, to restore you, to show you his favor. You may not see how it can happen but lean not to your own understanding, the scripture says. That means just because you don't see a way doesn't mean God doesn't have a way.
But here's the whole key today; nothing will happen unless you believe. God has this incredible power, favor, healing, promotion, restoration, but it's only activated when we believe. I'm asking you to believe that this is your year. Believe that every negative situation, God is turning it in your favor. Believe that good breaks are headed your way. Believe that your future will be brighter than your past.
First Chronicles 28:20 says, "Don't be discouraged by the size of the task for the Lord your God is with you. He will see to it that it is finished completely". Notice when you believe God will see to it that it's taken care of. When you believe you have the Creator of the universe fighting your battles, arranging things in your favor, going before you, moving the wrong people out of the way. You couldn't have made it happen in your own strength but because you're a believer the surpassing greatness of God's power is at work in your life.
Now don't be intimidated by the size of the problem, the size of your dream. Don't let that convince you to stop believing. "Well, Joel. I got laid off and you just don't know my financial situation". No, but I do know Jehovah jireh; the Lord our provider. He is still on the throne. One touch of God's favor and you'll go from barely making it to having more than enough. "Well, you just don't know my medical situation. It doesn't look good". No, but I do know Jehovah Rapha, the Lord our Healer, has not lost his power. He has done it in the past. He can do it in the future. "Well, Joel. I've got big dreams but I don't know the right people. I don't have the connections". That's okay. God does. You have friends in high places.
When you believe, God will bring the right people across your path. Don't be intimidated by the size of what you are facing. Here's what I've learned; the bigger the problem the bigger your destiny. The enemy would not be fighting you so hard unless he knew God had something amazing in your future. On the other side of that challenge is a new level of your destiny. The good news is when you believe, God promises he will bring it to pass.
Let me assure you nothing can stand against our God. No disappointment. No setback. No injustice. No person. No hater. No jealousy. When you believe, all the forces of darkness cannot stop God from taking you where he wants you to go. Be a believer and not a doubter.
It says in the book of Hebrews, "When we come to God we must believe that he is". It's interesting; it doesn't really finish the scripture. Believe that he is what? It leaves it open-ended. This is saying when you believe God becomes whatever you need him to be. He is strength when you're weak. He is healing where you're sick. He is favor when you need a good break. He is a way-maker when you don't see a way. He is restoration when something has been stolen. He is vindication when you've been falsely accused. He is whatever you need him to be.
Many of you know God by one name. You know him as a Savior and that's great. That's the most important way. But you need to find out what else he is. Do you know him as a Resurrection God? A God that can bring back to life what you thought was dead? Do you know him as an Ephesians 3:20 God, a God who can do exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond? Do you know him as a Healer, a Restorer, a God who gives beauty for ashes?
You may have gone through hurts and disappointments and people did you wrong but you don't have to live defeated, depressed, in self-pity. No, God wants to heal the hurts, give you a new beginning, bring you out better off than you were before. But you've got to know him as a God who gives beauty for ashes. Friends, there is so much more to our God. Don't keep him in a little box. Discover what else he is.
I know this couple that attends Lakewood. For the last year and a half or so they've heard me talking about believing for Ephesians 3:20 and how God wants to show us his unprecedented favor. And they dared to believe. They let that seed take root. For the last ten years they've been working very hard, saving their funds, so they could hopefully purchase their first home. At one point everything came together. They found the house they liked. It was a good price. They knew it was God's favor. They had the money for the down payment.
They were so excited. But when they went to close on the home the young lady was at the realtor's office finalizing the details. She got a call from her husband saying that he had just been let go from his job. He had worked for that company for over six years, always did his best, and had a good attitude. But his supervisor never particularly liked him. Over the years his wife just kept encouraging him, "You're not working unto people. You're working unto God". He did his best to stay on the high road, but it seemed like at the worst possible time he got let go.
To make matters worse, this all happened on his birthday. He lost his job and the house of their dreams on the same day. Naturally, they were disappointed. But the good news is this young couple didn't just know God as a Savior. They knew him as a God of restoration. They knew him as a God of justice, a God who will make your wrongs right. They could have easily gotten bitter, dropped out of church, but they understood this principle. If you only believe you will see the goodness of God.
Instead of sitting at home every day depressed, in self-pity; anytime he wasn't out looking for a new job, he would come up to the church and volunteer, week after week, month after month, as faithful as can be. In the natural it didn't look like anything was happening but they weren't discouraged by the size of their problem. They knew as long as they believed, the Lord their God would see to it that they were taken care of.
Five months later he got a call from his old company. Hadn't talked to them since he had been let go. It was an executive from the corporate headquarters. He explained how he had let go of the whole management team and this executive wanted him to come back and work for the company. He not only restored his job but he restored all of his benefits, all of his retirement, all of his seniority. The house they wanted to buy, it already sold, but they went out looking and found a better house in a better neighborhood for a better price. Today, he not only has his job back but they're living in their dream home. God is a faithful God.
Isaiah 3:10 says, "Say to the righteous, 'it shall be well with you.'" You may go through some difficulties. People may do you wrong. But because you're a believer it shall be well with you. You lost your job; yes, but another job is coming. It shall be well with you. The medical report doesn't look good; yes, but we have another report. It shall be well with you. Well, you say, "Joel, I've been praying, believing for this situation to change for a long time but I don't see anything happening". No, just like with this couple God is working behind the scenes right now arranging things in your favor. The answer is already on the way. It's just a matter of time before it shows up. It shall be well with you.
I like to think of it like setting the temperature on a thermostat. You set the temperature to 72 degrees. Now it may be 96 degrees in the room, far off from where you set it. You could go to the thermostat and think, this isn't working. It's not matching up". No, you don't worry about it. You know it's just a matter of time before the temperature in the room matches the temperature that you've set.
In the same way we should set our thermostats on what God says about us. God says you will lend and not borrow. I'm setting my thermostat right there. That's what I'm choosing to believe. Now right now I may be far from that. I may be far in debt but that's okay. I'm not worried. As long as I've got my thermostat set, as long as I keep believing, keep honoring God, keep being my best, I know it's just a matter of time before the conditions in my life match up to the conditions in my thinking. God is a faithful God.
Now we should set our thermostats, "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord". You may have a child that's 32 degrees, a son that's 140 degrees out there living wild. It doesn't matter. As long as your thermostat is set, you're not worried. You're not frustrated. You don't have to live wondering if it's going to change. You know God is in complete control. When he sees you have a made up mind, that your thermostat, you're thinking is set on his promises, on faith, on restoration, on healing, on victory, that's when God goes to work. It may not happen overnight but God is faithful. He will do what he promised.
Some of you today, you need to readjust your thermostat. At one time you believed to do something great. You believed to start that business. You believed you'd beat that addiction. But it didn't happen on your timetable. You got discouraged and you ended up giving up. But God is saying, "Reset the thermostat". Start believing once again. Believe you can live free from pain. Believe you can move into that nicer home. Believe God is bringing the right people across your path. Keep the thermostat set. Have a made up mind. When it gets cold, when it gets hot, stay in faith. "This is what God says about me. I am blessed. I will live and not die. My children will be mighty in the land. My latter days will be greater than my former days".
Now you may not see anything happening. Week after week, month after month, maybe even year after year. It doesn't matter. Our attitude is, "My thermostat is set. I'm not moved by what I see, by what I feel, by what people tell me. I'm moved by what I know. And I know when I believe the incredible greatness of God's power is activated. I know when I believe strongholds are broken. Favor, healing, promotion, restoration, they are coming my way".
In the scripture a man by the name of Ezekiel was facing an impossible situation. There were these dead bones in a valley that God had promised would come back to life. Dead bones represent dreams and goals that we don't think will come to pass. God had the power to bring these dead bones to life but God needed a person who believed so he could work through them. God said to Ezekiel, "Do you believe that these dead bones can live"?
Isn't it interesting God wanted to know what Ezekiel believed? Ezekiel could have reasoned it out and said, "God, the bones are dead. I don't see how that's going to happen". In other words, "The medical report doesn't look good, God. Business is slow. This is a big problem". I can imagine God said, "Ezekiel, I'm not asking you all of that. All I want to know is do you believe"?
All at once Ezekiel shook off the doubt and he said in effect, "Lord, I believe". The spirit of God came on him. He started prophesying and somehow, someway, those dead bones came back to life. But God is asking us what he asked Ezekiel. "Do you believe you can live a blessed, prosperous, successful life? I've got the power. I'm just looking for someone who believes".
Do you believe God can turn that situation around? Do you believe you can overcome mistakes of the past? Friends, when you get in agreement with God, and believe, that allows God to release the incredible greatness of his power.
When Lazarus was very sick his two sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus and asked if he would come to their home and pray for Lazarus. But Jesus waited too long. He waited four days. Lazarus had already died. When Jesus finally showed up Martha was very upset. She said, "Jesus, if you would have been here sooner my brother would still be alive".
Have you ever felt like God showed up too late? You prayed. You believed. But you still didn't get the promotion. You worked hard. You had a good attitude like the young man I talked about but the company still let you go. You stood on God's promises. You quoted the scriptures but your prayers didn't get answered. That's the way Mary and Martha felt. They were discouraged, depressed; probably a little bit bitter. Jesus looked at them and said, "Take me to the place where you have laid him". In other words, "Take me to the place where you stopped believing. Take me to the place where you decided it was over".
You've got to go to that place and ask yourself, "Is my God still on the throne? Is my God still all-powerful? Is my God still El Shaddai? The God who is more than enough"? You've got to stir your faith up. God said, "Mary. Martha. It looks bad but it's not over. If you will start believing once again I will show you my power in a greater way". Faith began to rise in their hearts. Martha said, "Jesus, if you would have been here my brother would still be alive. But I believe even now you can raise him from the dead".
Sometimes you have to have "Even now faith" where you say, "God, it looks impossible. It looks like it's over and done but I know you are a supernatural God and I believe even now you can turn my finances around. Even now you can heal my body. Even now you can restore this relationship". Mary and Martha shook off the doubt and they started believing once again.
You know the story. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. What's interesting is back in those days the Sadducees, these were some of the people that were against Jesus, they believed that the spirit left the body on the third day after a person died. It wasn't a coincidence that God waited for the fourth day to show up. Jesus waited on purpose so that when he raised Lazarus there wouldn't be any doubt about it. They would know that it was a great miracle.
Sometimes God will wait on purpose not only so you will know that it's his power but so your doubters, your nay-sayers, so your unbelieving relatives won't be able to deny that God has done something amazing in your life. At first, Mary and Martha were disappointed because Jesus didn't show up in time to heal Lazarus. They were disappointed that their prayers didn't get answered in the way they wanted. But all along God knew what he was doing. God wasn't planning a healing. He was planning something better. He was planning a resurrection.
Just because you believed and it didn't work out your way, on your timetable, doesn't mean that it's over. It means just the opposite. God is planning something better. You believed and you didn't get the promotion. You believed and you didn't qualify for the new home. Keep believing. God has something better coming. You believed but your child hasn't turned around. Keep believing. God is going to use your child in a great way. You believed but 2018 hasn't been that great so far. Keep believing. It's not over. God is still on the throne. Even now God can still turn it around.
After Jesus raised Lazarus, he said to Mary and Martha, "Did I not tell you if you would believe you would see the glory of God"? You may have plenty of reasons to be discouraged, depressed, negative, but God is saying, "If you will only believe you will see my power in new ways". Make up your mind you're going to be a believer and not a doubter. Keep the thermostat set. You may not see how it can happen but that's not your job. Your job is to believe.
Know this: right now, behind the scenes God's working in your life, arranging things in your favor. Don't be intimidated by the size of what you are facing. Stay in faith and the Lord your God will make sure that it comes to pass. Get this down in your spirit. Because you are a believer all will be well with you. All will be well with your family. All will be well with your finances. All will be well in your health. All will be well with your career.
You need to get ready because God's promises are about to come to pass in your life. It may not have happened in the past on your timetable. That's because God is not planning a healing. He is planning a resurrection. It's going to be better, bigger, greater than you've ever imagined. Be a believer. Take the limits off of God. Keep your faith stirred up. I believe and declare you are going to see God's goodness in amazing ways.