Joel Osteen — Blessed by Your Enemies
I want to talk to you today about "Blessed by your enemies". We all know that God can bless us. He can show us favor, promote us, heal us but we don't always realize God can use our enemies to bless us. What you may think is a disappointment: a person that walked away, a friend that betrayed you, a co-worker that's trying to make you look bad. You may not like that but you couldn't reach your destiny without them. It's all a part of God's plan to get you to where you're supposed to be.
David would only be known as a shepherd boy if it weren't for Goliath. Goliath was strategically placed in David's path, not to defeat him but to promote him. Without Goliath, David would have never taken the throne. Don't complain about your enemies. It may look like a setback but really it's a setup for God to get you to your throne. After all God could have used king Saul to promote David. Saul had the authority. He could have moved on Saul's heart told him to promote that young man but God chose to bless David, not through his friends but through his enemies.
That's why we don't have to play up to people, try to convince them to like us, hopefully they'll give me a good break. No, God doesn't have to use your friends, he can use your enemies, your critics, the one's that are trying to push you down, he can use them to push you up. It's interesting when David defeated Goliath you never hear anymore about Goliath. Goliath was created for David's purpose. Part of his destiny was to establish who David was.
Just as God has divine connections lined up for you, people to encourage you, push you forward he's also lined up people that will try to stop you, discourage you, try to make you look bad. There are Goliath's ordained to come across your path and if you don't understand this principle, you'll get discouraged; "God why is this happening to me"? That opposition wasn't meant to stop you. It was meant to establish you and when you overcome it you will not only step into a new level of your destiny but everyone around you will see the favor of God is on your life.
In 2002, we received word that the Houston Rockets Basketball team was moving out of this building and the city was thinking about selling it; we needed a larger auditorium. When I heard that, something came alive on the inside, I knew it was supposed to be ours. Word got out in the city that we were interested in it. There was all kinds of debate as to what should happen to this building.
A friend of mine was at a business luncheon sitting with some high-powered executives. One of these executives, a very influential man, found out that my friend attends Lakewood. He started talking about the Compaq Center and about how against us he was; and about what a terrible thing this would be for the city, and how no church should ever have this building, and on and on. Some other people at the table joined in, kind of laughing and making fun, talked about how Lakewood didn't have a chance in the world to get it.
Finally, this executive looked at my friend and said very sarcastically, "It will be a cold day in hell before Lakewood ever gets that building". My friend called me afterwards and told me about the conversation. I said, "Thanks a lot for the good news. Appreciate that encouragement," but the truth is that conversation was ordained by the Creator. He was one of those Goliath's God had strategically placed in our path.
When I heard about how against us he was, I was already determined, but something rose up in me, I had a holy determination. I had a new fire, a new resolve and every time things got tough, looked like it wasn't going to work out, I would be tempted to get discouraged, I could hear that phrase, "A cold day in hell". I'd get my passion right back it wouldn't take me but 5 seconds.
Sometimes God will put an enemy in your life to keep you stirred up. He'll allow critics, doubters, discouragers, even some haters so when you feel tired thinking you want to give up you'll keep pressing forward, shaking it off not because you feel like it but because you don't want to give your enemies the joy of seeing you defeated. Not out of spite, not out of pride, it's a holy determination. God uses the negative to keep us stirred up.
That business leader that was so against us, he doesn't realize it but God used him more than he used my friends. He was one of the most instrumental people in us getting this building. The funny thing is he wasn't for us he was against us. God used our enemies to bless us. If I ever see that man I need to buy him dinner... McDonald's probably.
Some of my enemies, I feel like I need to write them a check. If they hadn't been against me I wouldn't have prayed so hard. If they hadn't have made fun I would have given up sooner. If they hadn't have told me I couldn't do it, I didn't have what it takes, I might have been complacent, settled where I was. It was their opposition that pushed me forward.
Many times God will use your enemies to catapult you to success more than your friends. David said, "God prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies". Notice when God brings you through the opposition, he's not going to do it in private. He's going to do it where all of those enemies can see it. This building is located on the second busiest freeway in the nation. You can't drive in this city very long without seeing what God has done. And that man that was against us, I can only imagine every time he passes by, something whispers in his ear, "It must be a cold day in hell because there they are"!
Maybe today you're facing some kind of enemy, not just a person, maybe an enemy in your health, in your finances, in your relationship. It doesn't look like it's ever going to work out. Have this new perspective, right now God is preparing the table, the angels are taking the food out of the oven, Gabriel is putting his finishing touches on that meal, any moment you're going to hear the dinner bell ringing, God's going to say, "It's your time. Here's the table. Here's the meal I've prepared for you".
It's not going to be a little fast food meal hidden over in the corner, nobody notices. No God is preparing a table like he did for David, like he did for us to where not just all of your friends see it but even those enemies, the doubters, the discouragers, the ones that said you couldn't do it; they're going to see you blessed, promoted, vindicated, living your dreams in a place of honor and influence.
In one sense God used Judas more than he used the other disciples. Judas was ordained to betray Jesus, that was his purpose to try to stop him and it wasn't just his idea, it was the plan of God. At the time it seemed like a bad break but if he had not betrayed Jesus there wouldn't have been a crucifixion. Without the cross, there wouldn't have been a resurrection. Without the resurrection, we wouldn't have redemption, no salvation.
We celebrate Mary the mother of Jesus giving birth in the manger, we celebrate John baptizing Jesus, the dove coming down from heaven. But the man who betrayed Jesus, the one who sold him for 30 pieces of silver, was just as critical a part of his destiny if not more so than the others.
What am I saying? Don't complain about the person that betrayed you. If they walked away, they didn't set you back, they set you up for the fullness of your destiny. If they lied about you, tried to push you down, overlooked you it may not have been fair but if God allowed it he knows how to use it for your good.
What if Jesus would have gotten upset and said, "God, I'm your Son. How could you let this man betray me? He's one of my disciples". No, Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray him but he didn't try to stop him. He didn't try to talk him out of it. He knew that betrayal was a part of his divine destiny. Too often we fight against everything that doesn't go our way, get upset, bitter. "God why is this happening"? The longer I live the more I realize nothing happens by accident, even the opposition, if you'll keep the right attitude God will use it to your advantage.
I was talking to a well-known minister one time. For over 50 years he had gone around the world doing so much good, most people were very appreciative but in his hometown the local newspaper was never for him they were always finding fault. He could do 100 things right, they wouldn't report that. They would find the one thing they didn't like and make a big deal out of it.
This went on year after year. He had an interesting perspective. He said, "If it hadn't been for that newspaper, I would have never accomplished so much". I thought, "What do you mean"? He said, "That newspaper not only kept me on my knees but it gave me the fuel to keep pressing forward to prove to them that they were wrong". He went on to build a beautiful university in that city. Tens of thousands of young people have attended.
Toward the end of his life when he was just about done, all of a sudden the newspaper had a change of heart. They wrote this big front-page article celebrating everything that he had done. It was almost like God waited on purpose. God knew that enemy, even though my friend didn't like it, it was making him better. It was keeping him stirred up, made him more determined, more resilient.
Some of the things that we don't like, we're asking God to get rid of, if he removed them right now we wouldn't reach our highest potential. That opposition is making you stronger. Those people trying to stop you, the betrayal, the disappointment, that cannot keep you from your destiny. God has the final say and if he hasn't removed it yet that means he's going to use it for your good. He strategically places the Goliath's, the Judas', the opposition. Without Goliath you can't take your throne. Without Judas you won't reach your highest potential. Without the 'naysayers' you wouldn't become all you were created to be.
In the book of Luke there's a familiar story. Four men carried this paralyzed man to see Jesus. When they arrived at the house, it was too crowded. They had to take him up through the roof and let him down through the ceiling. At one point Jesus said to the paralyzed man, "Your sins have been forgiven". Some of the religious leaders were offended. They began to murmur under their breath saying, "Who does he think he is? This guy can't forgive sins, only God can do that".
The scripture says, "Jesus heard their murmuring". They were trying to do it quietly under their breath but Jesus heard what they were saying. He said to the men, "Which is easier? For me to say 'your sins are forgiven' or for me to say 'rise, take up your bed and walk?'" To prove to them that he was the Son of God he told the man, "Stand up" the man stood up perfectly healthy. I'm sure those naysayers when they saw him standing there, they nearly passed out.
Here's my point, if they had not been murmuring, complaining, criticizing this man may not have been healed. Jesus could have just forgiven his sins and moved on but because of their murmuring Jesus healed the man.
So when people are talking about you, trying to make you look bad, trying to push you down, don't worry God hears them. They are putting you in position for God to bless you in a greater way. You don't have to straighten them out. Don't fight battles that don't matter, stay in peace and like this man, God will use your enemies to bless you. Some of the favor that you're seeing, some of the good breaks you've had; it didn't happen because of you, it happened because of those people that tried to stop you. They put you in position for promotion.
I always thank God for my friends but I've learned to thank God for my enemies as well. Without the murmuring, that man may not have been healed; without Goliath, David would have never taken his throne; without Judas, Jesus wouldn't have resurrected from the grave. You need to see every enemy, so to speak, every disappointment, every betrayal in this new light: it's not sent to defeat you, it's sent to increase you.
A friend of mine told me out in the lobby a few years back how his business had gone down to nothing. He didn't think he could survive. To make matters worse one of his main competitors talked about him on the radio in a very unfavorable light. They were extremely critical of him, talked about how he wasn't up to par and that's why his business was going down.
It looked like that would be the final blow to put him under. But just the opposite happened. When they mentioned him it drew new attention to his business. New clients started calling out of the blue. The business grew and grew. Today, it's stronger than ever. In fact, he surpassed that competitor that tried to talk him down.
What am I saying? God can use your critics to promote you. God has all kinds of ways to get you to where you're supposed to be. He knows how to take what was meant for your harm and turn it around and use it to your advantage.
In the early 1900's, farmers in Alabama were facing a major challenge. A tiny insect called the boll weevil had migrated from south America and was now quickly destroying their crops. They tried everything they could to stop it. They exterminated using all kinds of chemicals, even came up with special formulas still to no avail. Eventually all they could do was sit back and watch their livelihood be eaten away.
One day a farmer had an idea; he said to his farmer buddies instead of planting our normal cotton crops, why don't we try peanuts? They looked at him like he had lost his mind. Peanuts! We can't make a living off of peanuts. Over time he talked them into it. They discovered that the boll weevil didn't like the taste of peanuts. Their crops took off like nothing they had ever seen. They made more money in a few months off of peanuts than they normally made the whole year off of cotton crops. In fact, when the boll weevils finally left they never did go back to cotton; they stuck with peanuts.
Friends God works in mysterious ways. You may be dealing with some boll weevils right now. My encouragement: stay in faith, peanuts are coming. What you think is a setback is really God setting you up to do something new. Don't complain about the co-worker that did you wrong, what didn't work out. You know what that was? A boll weevil, something that looks like it was meant to destroy you but in fact God's going to use it to take you to the next level. That person at work that's always trying to push you down, always trying to make you look bad; when you see them this week have a new attitude, "You're just a boll weevil. You're trying to stop me but I know a secret: God's going to use you to push me forward".
See the scripture says, "God will make your enemies your footstool". That means anything that comes against you: the persecution, the betrayal, the disappointment; if you'll stay in faith instead of being a stumbling block to take you down, God will use it as a stepping-stone to take you higher.
When I was 10 years old I was playing little league baseball. I was very small growing up. In fact people called me 'peanut,' I was always the smallest one on the team. I was in the middle of this important game; the stands were full, everybody was watching, I stepped out to the plate to bat. When the opposing coach saw how small I was, he came out of the dugout and started hollering to his players in the outfield, "Come in closer! Come in closer"! He was waving both of his arms, making this big scene. He might as well have said, 'this kid is a loser. Look how little he is. He can't hit. He's not up to par.'
All the stands were watching, I was standing there so embarrassed. I felt like hiding. The outfielders came in right behind the infield; nobody was in the outfield. All I could think of is that coach must have seen my brother Paul play before. When I saw that, something came all over me. I thought, "He doesn't know who I am. He didn't breath life into me. He doesn't determine my destiny. I am a child of the most high God. I can do all things through Christ".
The pitcher threw the ball, I may have been small, but I swung like I was ten feet tall. I gave it everything I had. God helped me to connect perfectly with that ball. It went way over their heads, it took two bounces, hit the back fence; nobody was in the outfield. I had an 'inside the park' home-run. Here's what I want you to see: the next time I got up to bat, the coach came out with the same fanfare, the same enthusiasm, but this time he shouted, "Back up! Back up! Back up"!
In the same way, the enemy will come against you in your thoughts. He'll tell you things like, 'you'll never get well, you'll never break the addiction, you can't accomplish your dreams, you're too small, you don't have what it takes.' You can either believe those lies and let him talk you into mediocrity. Or you can do like I did as a 10 year old boy and say, "No, I don't think so. You don't set the limits for my life. You don't determine my destiny. You didn't give me breath. I may look small but I know I'm full of resurrection power. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives on the inside of us"!
When you rise up in faith like that, those enemies won't defeat you those enemies will promote you. If you do that a few times he'll tell his forces, "Back up, back up, they're more powerful than they look, don't mess with them they go to Lakewood, they know they're highly favored, they know they're victors, not victims". The scripture says, "Don't be intimidated by your enemies". Don't be intimidated by what somebody said. Don't be intimidated by a negative medical report. You and God are a majority. When Jesus came out of the grave, he took the keys of death and hell. He said all power has been given unto me in heaven and in earth. Now, I'm giving you that power. You are not weak, you are not lacking, you are full of can do power. The greatest force in the universe is on your side.
When the Israelites were in slavery, pharaoh got upset and decided to make it harder on them. He told their supervisors to take away their materials but to force them to make the same amount of bricks each day. They took away their straw and sand. Now they had to go find their supplies on their own and work twice as hard. It was very unfair. But something interesting happened. The scripture says the more Pharaoh afflicted them, the more the Israelites multiplied. Pharaoh thought he was stopping them but in fact he was increasing them.
Sometimes when God wants to promote you, he doesn't send you a good break; he sends you an enemy. He'll cause a pharaoh, a supervisor, to turn up the heat and make things more difficult. But don't worry, the more the opposition, the more you're going to increase. The truth is we grow in the difficult times, that's when our character is developed. That's when we discover talent, confidence, courage that we didn't even know we had. Pharaoh, when he took away those supplies, he was trying to restrict the people, trying to squeeze them, put them under pressure.
Have you ever been washing your car at home and you have your water hose, you turn the valve on the water comes out maybe 3 or 4 feet? But when you really want to spray your car off, you need it to go further and if you're like me, you don't have a nozzle on the end, then you put your thumb on the end of the hose and you restrict the water. You would think when you restrict it, it would come out less but it's just the opposite, when you restrict that water because it is under more pressure it shoots out 15 or 20 feet. It goes many times further than when it had no pressure.
In the same way, when the enemy puts you under pressure, he thinks that's going to stop you but what he doesn't realize is all that's going to do is cause you to shoot out further. When you feel restricted, when you face opposition don't be discouraged; get ready to shoot out, get ready for new levels, get ready for promotion. That pressure is not going to stop you, it's going to increase you.
When Jesus was about to be crucified, he stopped by the Garden of Gethsemane, literally translated that means the Place of Pressing, it was an Olive Garden. The only way you can get the oil out of the olive is to press it. Without the pressing you'll never get the valuable oil. If you're never under pressure, you never have to stretch your faith, endure, persevere, then you'll never discover the valuable treasures that God put on the inside.
On Friday, they nailed Jesus to the cross, incredible pressure. On Saturday, he went down to the grave and fought the forces of darkness, restricted. But on Sunday morning, he came shooting up out of that grave, death couldn't hold him down. One message of the resurrection: God will use your enemies to bless you. Maybe today you feel restricted, under pressure, like your being squeezed. It's Friday, don't worry, Sunday is coming, you're about to shoot out. When you see where God takes you, the favor, the promotion, the blessing, you're going to look back and say like the Psalmist "It was good that I was afflicted".
See if David were here, he would tell you, "It was good that Goliath showed up". Jesus would say, "It was good that Judas betrayed me". I can tell you it was good that executive was against us. It may have been uncomfortable at the time, but one day you'll say this enemy didn't defeat me, this enemy promoted me. Now stay in faith, God has your back. He wouldn't have allowed the pressure unless it's going to work for your good. It may feel like Friday right now but I believe and declare Sunday is coming. You're about to shoot out stronger, healthier, promoted, vindicated, the fullness of your destiny in Jesus' name.