Joel Osteen — The Power Of The Soil
I want to talk to you today about the power of the soil. You can have a good seed that's healthy and strong, it's full of potential, but if it's not planted in good soil, it's not going to become what it was created to be. The problem is not with the seed.
A scientist could study the seed, run tests, they would find that it's full of life. If it's an apple seed, it has apples in it. If it's a rose bush, it has blossoms in it. But if it's planted in soil that's full of rocks, weeds, and thorns, it may grow some, but it's not going to produce what it should. It may survive, but it's not going to be healthy.
And it's the same principle in life. You're a seed. You are full of gifts, talents, potential, but if you plant yourself in unhealthy soil, if you hang around friends that compromise and pull you down, if you're in an environment that's limited with people that tell you what you can't become, you won't see the growth that you should. Not because there's something wrong with your seed, you're made in the image of God. The problem is with the soil. The rocks, the thorns, the weeds are choking the life out of your seed.
Jesus told a parable about a man that sowed seed on good ground, and it produced a great harvest, many crops. Another sowed seed on rocky ground, didn't produce too much. Another sowed it on ground where the weeds and the thorns kept the seed from growing. All the same seed, what made the difference was the soil. The thorns are things like friends that keep causing you to compromise. The weeds are those co-workers that sit around and gossip all day. The rocks are those family members that tell you how you can't break that addiction. If you hang around negative people, they're choking out your seed, and those friends you're tempted to party with, they may be fun, they're popular, but what you can't see is they're a weed. They're keeping you from flourishing. The environment you put yourself in is extremely important.
No matter how good the seed is, it's dependent on having good soil. You have to be selective with whom you give your time, energy, and attention because people are contagious. You're going to catch what they have. If your friends are prejudiced, you're going to become prejudiced. If your friends have limited thinking, they don't have any goals, no motivation, that narrow-minded mentality is going to rub off on you.
You're going to become like the people you continually associate with. Don't hang around people that don't have anything you want. If they're not making you better, if they're not inspiring you, causing you to grow, then you need to make some changes, you need to pull up those weeds. Quit hanging around thorny friends, people that bring out the worst in you, talk you out of your dreams, cause you to compromise. Their negativity is contaminating your soil, and your destiny is too great to waste it with people that are not adding value to your life.
"Well, Joel, what if I hurt their feelings"? What if you miss your destiny? What if they choke out your seed? What if they keep you from blossoming?
I've heard it said it's not enough to just focus on self-development, you have to focus on soil development, on what's around you, on what's influencing you, on what you're spending time and attention with. Are you putting your seed in good soil, or is it being contaminated by what you watch, by what you think about, by who you're spending time with?
What you're unwilling to walk away from is where you'll stop growing. If you know a person is pulling you down, but you won't make a change, then you'll get stuck where you are. Your seed can't grow in bad soil, and if you don't get rid of the wrong people, you'll never meet the right people. Here's the key. God will never ask us to give something up without giving us more back in return, and sure, you may go through a season of being lonely, but what will happen is God will give you new friends, better friends, people that push you up instead of pulling you down.
In the scripture, God told Abraham to leave his country, leave his relatives, and go to a new land. Abraham left, he headed out, but he took his nephew Lot with him. He was only supposed to take his immediate family. Before long, Abraham and Lot had a disagreement. There was strife and arguing between their herdsmen. Then Lot moved to a different place and got in trouble. Abraham felt responsible, so he had to go rescue him. He spent all this time and energy involved in a problem that he should've never had if he would've left Lot in the first place.
Some of the challenges we face are because we didn't leave who God told us to leave. What's interesting is the name Lot means veil or covering. When you leave Lot, when you leave what you know you're supposed to leave, the veil will come off. You will see things you've never seen, new friendships, new opportunities, new talents, new levels.
Are you holding on to what God asked you to let go of? Someone, something that's pulling you down, keeping you from your best? Your seed can't flourish in a negative environment that's keeping you from growing, and when I say leave, I don't mean you have to go make a big announcement, "Hey, you're contaminating me. I'm done with you". I simply mean little by little, start spending less and less time with them.
If you have a bunch of weeds, it's choking out your dreams, your vision, your character. At the office, that person you eat lunch with that's always complaining about the boss, jealous of co-workers, mad at their spouse, I say this respectfully, they're a weed. They are contaminating your soil. They're keeping you from flourishing, and yes, they're made in the image of God, they can change, but until they do, you shouldn't let them pollute you.
I'm nice to everyone, but I don't spend my time with everyone. I'm selective about who I allow in my life. I don't spend time with negative, critical, jealous, small-minded, can't do it, bitter people. I value what God has given me too much to put my seed in bad soil. We have a responsibility. God has given you a gift. He could've created anyone to be alive at this day and time, but he chose you. Your seed is full of potential. Your seed has greatness in it. Your seed can set a new standard for your family. Your seed can break generational curses. What God has given you is extremely valuable. Now do your part, keep your seed in good soil.
I have a row of bushes around my house, and for years they've been healthy and green, just as lush as can be. But several months ago, we noticed a few of them all next to each other started to look like something was wrong. They're a little shriveled up and not as green as they should be. A couple of weeks later, they were all dead, about 15 feet out of a long row of bushes.
The landscaper came out, first thing he said was, "Let me check the soil". He ran some tests and found that the soil in that area had become contaminated. We had to dig it out and replace it, and now the new plants are just as healthy as the others.
But sometimes we wonder why we feel kind of like we're shriveled and we're not growing, "God, why aren't you doing anything"? Check your soil. Has it become contaminated? Who are you spending time with? What are you giving your attention to? You can't watch the news all day and live a positive, faith-filled life. After about 20 minutes, you'll be depressed. Pay attention to your environment. What are you taking in all day?
A man told me how he drove an hour each way to work for 20 years listening to talk radio. It was a political station, where they're debating politics and people arguing, being disrespectful, and he would get so wrought up, so mad, by the time he got to work, he was sour, nobody wanted to be around him, he didn't even like himself. He had turned into a bitter, angry man.
One day, he was flipping through the channels and came across our Sirius XM station. He heard me speaking and couldn't turn it off. That was over a year ago. He said, "Joel, I'm a different person. I'm happy, I'm friendly. People even ask me, 'what happened to you?'"
What was the problem all those years? His soil. That negativity was choking out his joy, his faith, his victory, and we have enough negative things in life that we have no control over. Be selective about what you do have control over. Driving to work, put on something uplifting, music that inspires you. Listen to a message that builds your faith.
Keep your seed in good soil. At home, don't leave the television on all day, chatter, noise in the background, that's your soil, and this is the reason some people aren't growing. They're talented, they have potential, but their soil has become contaminated. You have to protect your seed.
I know a professional football player that was diagnosed with cancer. Had only been in the league a couple years, his dream came true, then he was hit with this diagnosis. He didn't fall apart. He didn't get bitter. He still lives at home. He told his mother that he didn't want anyone using the word "Cancer" in his house.
He didn't want that word down in his spirit. He knew if he was in a depressed environment, a feel sorry for me, you may not make it atmosphere, he wouldn't get well. His attitude was, "I am healed. I am whole. I will play football again. I will fulfill my destiny. God is bigger than what I'm facing".
What was he doing? Creating an environment of victory. He was keeping his seed in good soil. Two years later, he was back in the league.
When you face difficulties, more than ever you need to keep your mind filled with thoughts of faith, and you need to surround yourself with people that speak hope and life, people that will agree with what you're believing for. You can't afford to have people that are negative, discouraged, telling you how you may not make it, and, "I don't know, my grandmother died of that same thing". Do yourself a favor, stay away from people like that. Don't let them pollute your soil.
One time, Jesus went to pray for a little girl that had died, and when he arrived at the house, everyone was weeping and so upset. He told them that she wasn't dead, she was just asleep. They began to laugh and make fun. Jesus asked them all to leave the room. Only one that stayed were Peter, James, and John. He spoke to the little girl and she was healed.
Why did Jesus make them leave? He could've healed her in front of everyone, he's God. He was showing us the importance of having the right environment. People, if you allow them, can talk you out of your dreams. Their doubt and negativity can rub off on you. You have to set some boundaries. "I love you, but I'm not going to let you poison me. I have a destiny to fulfill. I'm going to love you from outside the room".
This is what happened with the Israelites. Moses sent 12 men to spy out the Promised Land. Ten came back and said, "Moses, we don't have a chance. There are giants in the land. Compared to them, we felt like grasshoppers". The other two spies, Joshua and Caleb, had a different report. They said, "Moses, we are well able. Let us go in at once and take this land". But the negative report from the majority, from the ten spies, began to spread throughout the whole camp. Before long, all 2 million Israelites were discouraged, complaining, saying, "Moses, let's go back to Egypt. Let's just go back to being slaves".
God had promised them the victory, but they never did make it in because their soil was contaminated. That seed couldn't grow in that negative environment. The people you surround yourself with are extremely important. Don't hang around can't do it people, not able to people. "Yes, I know God promised you, but I don't see how you can get well, how you can meet the right person, how you'll break that addiction".
Stay away from people like that. Find Joshua, find Caleb, not people that will throw water on your flame, but people that will fan your flame, people that will join their faith with yours and say, "Hey, if you believe, count me in, I'm going to believe with you".
When Henry Ford had a dream to make a car with an engine, he started developing it, but everyone told him it wouldn't work, that it wasn't a good idea. He was about to stop when Thomas Edison came to see him. They had never met. They introduced Mr. Ford as the man trying to build a car that would run on gasoline. Edison's eyes got big, he hit his fist on the table and said, "You've got it. A car that has its own power plant, that's a brilliant idea". Henry Ford would tell how that conversation and that friendship is what kept him going. None of us would be driving a Ford if he had not found that good soil.
The critics, the naysayers are a dime a dozen. Ten of the twelve spies were negative, that's about average. Eighty percent will tell you what you can't do. You have to find the 20% that will tell you what you can do. The majority most of the time won't see what you see. They won't encourage you, you have to find the minority, and I believe that one reason I'm seeing God's favor is because I've been in good soil. A lot of it I can't take credit for. Wasn't anything I did, it was simply the goodness of God.
I was raised by parents that always told me what I could become in a loving, faith-filled environment. I saw my father believe for big things, break barriers that he was raised with. He came out of poverty and he lived with this all things are possible mentality. Years before my father passed away, Victoria would tell me that one day, I was going to pastor the church. That seemed so odd. I used to think, "What is she talking about? I can't get up in front of people". But year after year, she told me what I could become.
When my father went to be with the Lord, I was able to step up, why? My seed had been in good soil. My sister, Lisa, worked behind the scenes 17 years with me. She was the head of our volunteers, and she would assist my father during the services, and make sure that he had what he needed. The Sunday after my father died, I was sitting in my father's seat about to go up to minister. Lisa was sitting behind me where she always sat, and she said that God spoke to her down in her heart, he said, "Just as you served your father, you are to now serve your brother". For the last 18 years, that's what Lisa has done. She's helped me, encouraged me. She could've been jealous, "God, I wanted to be promoted. I don't want to serve him, I want him to serve me". Thank you, Jesus. Instead, she celebrated me.
What am I saying? I didn't get here by myself. I got here because I had good soil all around me, people that believed in me, people that cheered me on, people that encouraged me. Here's what I'm saying. Your soil is just as important as your seed, and you may have had just the opposite, people that didn't support you. Instead of telling you what you could become, they told you what you couldn't do. The good news is that doesn't have to stop you. Your seed is still alive, and if you will get it in a different environment with can-do people, with possibility thinking, with friends that inspire you, then your seed will take root and begin to blossom. You can still reach the fullness of your destiny.
This is what Elisha did. He was out working in the fields, a farmer, no doubt from a limited background. Didn't look like he had much of a future, but the prophet Elijah came by and called out to him. Elisha saw something in Elijah that he wanted. He saw the favor on his life, how Elijah was doing great things. He connected with him. He thought, "That's good soil, that's where I need to keep my seed".
For years, Elisha served Elijah. He waited on him, would bring him food, he wouldn't leave him. In fact, three times Elijah tried to get Elisha to go do his own thing, but he wouldn't do it. When Elijah was taken to heaven, Elisha received a double portion of his anointing. If Elisha would've stayed out in the fields, in that limited environment with the friends he grew up with, he would've never seen the double. He had to get his seed in the right soil.
You need people in your life that are further along than you, people that have a bigger vision, that are more successful, more well off. In one sense, people that are out of your league. You have to be exposed to new levels before you can go to new levels. If you're the smartest one in your group, your group is too small. If you're the most successful, you need to get a larger circle. Don't be intimidated by people that are further along, be inspired. Find some good mentors. Connect with dreamers, people that have a bigger vision. Glean from them, that's good soil.
A friend of mine feeds a million children a day. He supports charities that help these underprivileged children. His goal is to feed 10 million a day. When I'm around him, I'm inspired. It makes me dream bigger. I think, "God, you did it for him, you can do it for me". What is that? My seed getting in good soil.
Does your vision increase around your friends or does it decrease? Do you leave challenged, motivated, inspired? Or are you discouraged, negative, drained? And I'm not saying that every friend will inspire you, but you should have one or two that light a fire on the inside, that push you forward. If you only invest in people at your same level, you'll get stuck there. Find a mentor, somebody that's gone where you want to go. Just as the wrong people will pull you down, the right people will pull you up.
In acts chapter 3, a crippled man had been lying by the temple gate for years, asking for money. Peter came along and said, "I don't have any money, but in the name of Jesus, rise and walk". Nothing happened. The man looked at Peter like, "What do you mean rise and walk? I'm crippled. I've been this way my whole life, I can't walk". This could've been the end of the story, Peter could've thought, "I did my part, it didn't work". But the scripture says Peter took him by the right hand and lifted him up. As he did, the man's legs were instantly healed.
Notice Peter wouldn't let the man stay down. He didn't give him a choice, he prayed for him and then pulled him up. You need some friends like Peter that won't let you stay down. When you're in the pits, when you can't get up by yourself, not people that will get in the pit with you, "Let's tell sad stories together. Let's feel sorry for ourselves". No, people that will pull you out of that pit, people that love you so much they won't let you stay addicted, they won't let you stay depressed, they won't let you miss your destiny. Not just people that pray, but they pull you up, and I know that's why many come out here and many of you listen, because you know we're always going to lift you up.
You may be down, but we're not going to let you stay down. We're going to tell you, "Get up, there are new levels. You've been hurt, get up, God has beauty for those ashes. You lost something, get up, God's about to restore. You went through a disappointment, get up, a new beginning is coming. You're still single? Get up, the right person's on the way. You're struggling in your finances, get up, God's going to open the windows of heaven". You need people that will pull you into your destiny.
Like this man, sometimes you can't go to the next level without somebody pulling you up, and if you're crippled in some area, so to speak, and you surround yourself with people just like you, there's nobody to help you up. You have to get around somebody stronger, somebody more successful, somebody free so they can lift you. Lame people can't help lame people up. Addicted people can't help addicted people up. Maybe you need to change who you're spending time with.
God has some Peters waiting for you. He's ordained people already to lift you up, people that are destined to pull you up. Don't sit around in some kind of dysfunction with other dysfunctional people the rest of your life. Your seed can't grow in that soil. Stay away from people that are enabling the dysfunction. Get away from people that tell you where you are is where you're always going to be. Don't believe that lie, your seed is still alive.
When it hits the good soil, you're going to see things happen you never dreamed would happen. You're not going to stay addicted, freedom is coming. You're not going to struggle in your health your whole life, wholeness is coming. That lack, not having enough, is not your destiny. In good soil, you're going to see abundance, overflow, more than enough. Now, do your part, start pulling up the weeds. Get rid of those thorny friends, people that are pulling you down. Be selective with what you give your attention to all day, and if you will keep your seed in good soil, I believe and declare you're about to blossom. Peter is about to show up and pull you to a new level. Increase, promotion, freedom, healing, wholeness, the fullness of your destiny in Jesus' name.