Joel Osteen — Unshakeable Faith
I want to talk to you today about unshakeable faith. When God puts a promise in your heart you have to come to the place where you believe it's going to happen so strongly, nothing can talk you out of it.
It may seem impossible. The medical report may say, "There's no way you're going to get well". The financial situation says, "Business is so slow. You're not going to make it". All the circumstances may tell you, "You'll never accomplish your dreams, never meet the right person, never see your family restored". But deep down you have to have this confidence, this knowing, that God is still on the throne. He is bigger than any obstacle. He already has a way and at the exact time what he promised will come to pass. You have this unshakeable confidence. You know that God is fighting your battles, arranging things in your favor, making a way even when you don't see a way.
Instead of being discouraged, you get up in the morning thanking God that the answer is on the way. Instead of talking about how big the problem is, you go through the day talking about how big your God is. When the negative thoughts come saying, "It's impossible. It's been too long," you let that go in one ear and out the other. Your mind is set in one direction: victory, favor, healing, restoration. You know the moment you prayed God set the miracle into motion. It may be taking a long time but God didn't bring you this far to leave you. You've seen him do it in the past and you know he will do it again in the future. You are fully persuaded. That's unshakable faith.
And the fact is, some promises do take a long time. If God made everything happen when we wanted it to happen it wouldn't take any faith. We grow in the difficult times. We grow when our faith is being stretched, when we have to believe when we don't see any reason to believe, when we stay in faith when our mind is telling us we're wasting our time, when we give God praise but we really feel like complaining. That's passing the test. Every day you do that your faith is not only increasing, your character is not only being developed, but you are one day closer to seeing the promise come to pass.
Some of you were about to give up on a promise but God has you here for a reason. You need to dig your heels in. Put on a new attitude. God is saying, "Every promise I've spoken over you, every dream I've placed in your spirit, even the secret petitions of your heart, the dreams you haven't told anyone about, I still have every intention of bringing them to pass".
Friends, God is a faithful God. It may not have happened on your timetable but that doesn't mean it's not going to happen. God has the final say. Now don't you dare give up on that promise. Don't let discouragement, negative thoughts, talk you out of it. Get your fire back. Get your passion back. If God said it he will do it. If God spoke it he will bring it to pass. Now do your part and have unshakeable faith.
This is what the apostle Paul did. He said, "None of these things move me". What were "These things"? Circumstances that looked impossible. People trying to talk him out of it. Negative, discouraging thoughts. His attitude was, "That doesn't change my mind. I'm not moved by what I see. I'm moved by what I know and I know if God be for me who dare be against me? I know all of God's promises are yes and amen. I know God has the final say".
That's the attitude we should have. "I'm not moved by this medical report. I respect and honor people that are trying to help me get well but I know God can do what medical science cannot do. God made my body. Doctors can treat me but only God can heal me". "I'm not moved by the economy, the stock Market, my job situation. I know God supplies all of my needs. He promised he would prosper me even in a recession". "I'm not moved by how my children are acting. I'm not stressed out because they're off course, making poor choices. I know it's only a matter of time. As for me and my house we will serve the Lord". Or for some of you, "I'm not moved by the fact that I'm single and I haven't met anyone. I know God has already picked out the right person. He has already ordained him to come across my path. I am fully persuaded they are in my future".
That's unshakeable faith. You're not moved by your circumstances. Up when something good has happened. Down when you don't see anything happening. No, you know that you know, that you know, everything God promised you is already in your future.
This is what Abraham did. God gave him a promise that he would have a child. In the natural it was impossible. He and his wife, Sarah, were nearly 100 years old. But it says in romans 4, "Abraham did not waver in faith but he was fully persuaded God would do what he promised". How could Abraham have this unwavering faith when all the odds were against him? I could see how he could have a glimmer of hope but it says, "He was fully persuaded".
Verse 19 gives us a secret. "He considered not the weakness of his own body nor the deadness of Sarah's womb". The key to having unshakeable faith is don't consider your circumstances. Consider your God. Your circumstances, like Sarah's womb, may look dead. The financial situation may look impossible. The medical report may say it's hopeless. All the experts may tell you, "You could never accomplish your dreams". If you only consider that, you'll get discouraged. Before long, doubt will creep in. That will keep you from God's best.
You've got to do like Abraham and say, "I'm not going to consider just what my mind, my thoughts are telling me. I'm not going to consider just what the experts are saying. I'm not going to consider the size of my problem. I'm going to consider the size of my God. He spoke the worlds into existence. He flung the stars into space. He is not limited by the natural. He has supernatural power". When you consider God instead of your circumstances, amazing things can happen.
I have a friend named Courtney. She attends here. She applied for a scholarship to a major university. She's going to study theater and the arts and acting. Twenty-six hundred other people applied but there were only twelve scholarships available. She could've thought, "Oh, great. What's the use of even trying? Those odds are less than one half of one percent; 0.5%". But she didn't consider the odds. She considered her God. Her attitude was, "God, you control the whole universe. If you want me in this university, I know you can cause me to stand out. I'm not moved by what I see. I'm moved by what I know and I know your plans for me are for good. I know you have far and beyond favor. I know you reward those that honor you".
A few months ago, Courtney received notice in the mail that out of the 2,600 applications, she was one of the twelve that were chosen. She's right here on the front row. Courtney, very proud of you.
Some of you are spending too much time analyzing your situation. You have so many facts and figures it's talking you out of what God can do. If you would spend more time considering God, thinking about his greatness, the times he has made a way in the past, meditating on his promises, speaking faith and victory over your life, then like Courtney, like Abraham, you would see God show up and do supernatural things.
I remember when we first acquired this new facility, the former Compaq Center. I was told by our architects that it would cost approximately $100 million dollars to renovate. My first thought was, "How in the world will we ever be able to pay for this"? Our team ran the numbers. They projected future giving. If we sold some property and things fell into place, we calculated we would still be significantly short.
I studied those numbers again and again, so much so, I'd wake up in the middle of the night dreaming about those numbers. I had analyzed them a thousand different ways. No matter how I looked at them we always came up short. On paper, it just wouldn't work out.
One day I did what I'm asking you to do. I said, "God, I've considered the numbers. I've considered the facts. I've had very intelligent people give me projections and analysis, and God, it doesn't look good. But now I'm going to change my focus and start considering you. God, I know you parted the Red Sea for Moses. You stopped the sun for Joshua. You protected Daniel from hungry lions. You took five loaves and fed 5,000. You turned water into wine. That was back in Bible days. But God, in my own life I've seen you heal my mother of terminal cancer. You brought my father out of defeat and poverty into a life of abundance and purpose. You spared my life on the freeway when my car was spinning around, an 18-wheeler right in front of me. You caused Victoria and I to stumble onto a house that doubled in valued overnight. You've given us this beautiful facility. And God, you said what you started you will finish. You said, God we would see the surpassing greatness of your favor. You said you would supply our needs according to your riches".
When I changed my focus, instead of considering my circumstances and started considering my God, doubt, fear, anxiety, negativity didn't have a chance. Faith rose up. Expectancy rose up. Hope rose up. I became fully persuaded. I knew that I knew, that I knew, that I knew God would make a way even though I didn't see a way. That's exactly what happened. Here we are today not just believing for the promise but enjoying the promise. Not just dreaming the dream but living the dream.
Friends, it's so important what you consider. What are you focusing on, the size of your obstacle, or the size of your God? If you go through the day just thinking about your problems, worried, negative, playing out all the scenarios that could happen, that's going to draw in defeat. You're using your faith but you're using it in the wrong direction. It takes just as much energy to be negative as it does to be positive. It takes just as much energy to be worried as it does to believe. I'm asking us to use our energy for the right purposes.
Most people have considered their circumstances long enough. They've considered the bank account, the medical report, the odds that are against them. It's time to make the switch and start considering our God. Why don't you take the same time that you would normally spend worrying and use that time to thank God that the answer is on the way? Thank him that he is fighting your battles. Thank him that breakthroughs are coming.
Instead of overanalyzing the situation spend that same time meditating on the scriptures. "I can do all things through Christ. I am strong in the Lord. God always causes me to triumph". Instead of reading the medical report for the 1,200th time, instead of getting on the internet and for four hours "Google-ing" that disease and finding everybody that's ever died from it why don't you take that same time to go walk in the park and with every step say, "Lord, thank you that healing is flowing through me. Thank you that I'm getting stronger, better, healthier". With every breath, "Lord, thank you. You have me in the palm of your hand. Thank you, Lord, that nothing can snatch me away".
Here's a key; when you make God bigger, your problems become smaller. When you magnify God instead of your circumstances, faith rises in your hearts. That's what's going to keep you fully persuaded. Now pay attention to what you're focusing on. Be aware of what's playing in your mind all day. Are you considering your circumstances or are you considering your God?
In Mark, chapter 5, Jesus was traveling through a town on his way to pray for a sick person but he kept getting stopped along the way, one delay after another. Finally, these people came up and said to his disciples, "Tell Jesus he doesn't need to come any longer. It's too late. The person has died". The scripture says, "Jesus, overhearing, but ignoring".
Sometimes in order to stay in faith you have to ignore a negative report. It doesn't mean you deny the facts, act like they're not there. No, like Jesus, you may hear the facts. The odds may be against you but you choose not to dwell on them. You don't go around defeated, thinking, "Ah, great. I knew I wouldn't get well. Look at this doctor's report". No, that may be one report but God has another report. The medical report may say according to medical science you'll never get well but God's report says, "I'm restoring health unto you and healing you of your wounds".
The question is, "Whose report are you going to believe"? The financial report may say, "You'll never get out of debt. You'll never be able to take that missions trip. You'll never afford the house you really want". That's one report. Don't deny it but choose to believe the report of the Lord. God says you will lend and not borrow. Whatever you touch will prosper and succeed. His favor surrounds you like a shield. If you're going to have unshakeable faith you've got to learn to ignore the negative reports and choose to believe the report of the Lord.
One time Jesus saw some men on a beach. They were putting away their fishing nets and all of their equipment. They had been out fishing that night. Jesus asked if he could borrow their boat so he could push away from the shore and teach the people that had gathered. They had never met before but the men agreed. When Jesus finished, as a way to say thank you, he told the men, "Launch out into the deep and you will catch a great haul of fish".
These fishermen began to reason in their mind. They thought, "He's a teacher. We're professional fishermen. This is how we make a living. We know when the fish are biting and when they're not biting. We've been doing this for years. We are experts and now is not the time to go fishing". For some people, the problem is they know too much. Our intellect can talk us out of what God wants to do.
I told a story once about a lady that overcame cancer three times. After the service another lady came up and said, "Joel, I like that story but the type of cancer I have is very rare; less than 1% of all cancer. There's no treatment for it. The average life expectancy is this long". On and on, in great detail, she told me all the reasons why she couldn't get well and story after story of people that had not made it and how there was no medicine that could affect this type of cancer.
When she got finished she had convinced me. I was depressed too. I wasn't even sick. I was ready to plan my funeral. What was her problem? She knows too much. She has analyzed it and reanalyzed it and studied it and researched it. No wonder she doesn't have any faith. And it's good to have information. I'm not saying to live with our head in the sand but there comes a point where you have to say, "I am not going to put any more doubt and unbelief into my mind. Yes, I want to know the facts but I don't need to know all the details of why I'm not going to get well, why I'm not going to get out of debt, why I can't accomplish my dreams".
Take this in the right sense. Sometimes you have to turn your mind off. If you listen long enough, the experts, they can talk you out of God's best with the facts, the figures, the details, the statistics, they can convince you into living a defeated, mediocre life.
It's like this guy I heard about. He was standing on the side of a bridge about to jump, so depressed, so discouraged. A man ran up and said, "Please! Please! Don't jump! Let me help! Tell me about your problems". For the next three hours, in great detail, he told the man all of his problems. When he got finished they both jumped.
I want to know the facts but I don't want to know too much. If you don't cut that off it's going to depress you. You've got to get out of the natural and say, "This may be impossible with men but with God all things are possible".
Those fishermen said to Jesus, "We've been out fishing all night and caught nothing. Thank you for your advice. Thank you for your suggestion but we're the experts. We know the facts. We've got the latest fishing report emailed to us earlier this morning. Nothing is biting". Jesus said in effect, "The promise I've given you may not make sense in the natural but I have supernatural power. Your report may say that there are no fish out there but you have to understand; I control the fish. There may not have been fish last night, last week, or last year, but I can assure you there are fish out there right now".
Jesus finally convinced them and they went out sort of thinking that they were wasting their time but they said, "Nevertheless, Jesus. At your word we will do it". They turned their mind off. They ignored their logic, their reasoning, their experience, what that was telling them.
I've learned God is not always logical. God's ways are not always our ways. They went out and caught so many fish that their boat began to sink. Now don't talk yourself out of what God wants to do in your life. It may not seem logical. Your reasoning may tell you, "There's no way. You're too young or too old. All the odds are against you. It looks impossible". Dare to do like these fishermen. Say, "God, this promise you've given me doesn't make sense. I don't see how it could ever happen. I don't know why I should even get my hopes up. Nevertheless; God, if you say so I'm going to believe so".
That's what Mary did, the mother of Christ. She was a teenager living in Nazareth. An angel appeared unto her and said, "Mary, you are highly favored of God. You will give birth to a child without knowing a man. He will be the Son of God". God spoke this incredible promise to her. You can imagine the thoughts of defeat and doubt that were bombarding her mind, saying, "You can't have a child without a man. That's impossible. That defies the laws of nature".
If she would have looked at it just in the natural she would have talked herself out of it. But Mary understood this principle. She didn't consider her circumstances. She considered her God. I love the way she answered back. She didn't say, "That sounds so far out. I just don't see how it could happen". No, she was bold. She told the angel, "Be it unto me even as you have said". In other words, "Let it happen. I am in agreement. If God says I'm highly favored I believe I'm highly favored. If God says the impossible is going to happen I believe the impossible will happen".
That's the way we need to be when God puts a promise in our heart. We may not see how it could work out in the natural but we don't try to reason it out. We don't make excuses. We do like Abraham and become fully persuaded. You may be facing an illness. God gives you the promise with long life he will satisfy you.
You could either say, "Well, I don't know, Joel. The report doesn't look good. I've had this for five years. My great-grandmother died of the same thing". You could talk yourself out of it or you can say like Mary, "God, if you say I'm going to be well I believe I'm going to be well". Maybe you're struggling in your finances. You've run all the numbers. It doesn't look like you'll ever get out of debt. But because you're a giver God gives you the promise he is going to open the windows of heaven, pour out blessings that you cannot contain.
Now don't make excuses. "God, do you know where I work? God, do you know what the cost of living is? God, have you seen the stock market"? No, zip that up and do like Mary. "God, let it happen. I am in agreement. Be it unto me even as you have said".
Mary asked the angel something interesting. She said, "How can this be seeing that I know not a man"? She was asking of course about the physical but I believe there is a deeper meaning. God is saying, "My promises are not dependent on man". You don't have to know certain people in order to fulfill your destiny.
Sometimes we think, "If I could just get my boss to like me then he'd give me that promotion. If I could just get to that expert then I'd have the training. If I just had some important influential friends maybe I could get a good break". No, God's promises are not dependent on who you know or who you don't know. The main thing is you know him and he controls it all.
The scripture says, "Promotion doesn't come from people. It comes from Almighty God". When it's your time to be promoted, to be healed, to be restored, God doesn't go check with your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers. He says like Mary, "I'll make it happen without a man". If God can do it without a man he can do it without a bank. He can do it without a loan. He can do it without the treatment. He can do it without the training.
Some of you have considered your circumstances long enough. It's time to start considering your God. He is the all-powerful Creator of the universe. The promise, the dream, he has placed in your heart may seem impossible. It may look too big. When you run the numbers, so to speak, it doesn't seem logical. But don't do like the fishermen and over-analyze it and try to reason it all out. You'll just talk yourself out of it. Do like Mary. Dare to say, "God, I don't see a way but I know you have a way. Let it happen".
When the negative reports, the negative thoughts come, saying, "It's too late. It's impossible," learn to ignore it. That's one report but remember God has another report. He is saying today, "Every promise I've spoken over you, every dream I've placed in your heart, I will bring it to pass. I am bringing you out of debt into abundance. You will live healthy and whole. Your children will be mighty in the land. You will overcome that addiction. That problem will not defeat you. You will meet the right people. You will accomplish dreams greater than you ever imagined". Because you have unshakeable faith, because you are fully persuaded; like Abraham, you are going to see the surpassing greatness of God's favor. I believe it and declare it. In Jesus' name.