Joel Osteen — Just Do It!
I want to talk to you today about just do it. Sometimes God asks us to do things that don't make sense. It doesn't seem logical. It doesn't fit into our budget. It doesn't line up with our schedule. "God, you want me to go back to college? I'm 40 years old". "God, you want me to give them a gift? I was saving those funds for my own dreams". Or, "God, you want me to leave this secure position that I've had for years and start my own business"?
Too often we overanalyze it. We debate it. Look at it only in the natural. We end up making excuses, talking ourselves out of it. "That couldn't be God". But if you're going to reach your highest potential you have to have bold obedience. That means you obey even when you don't understand it. You just do it even when it doesn't make sense. That's what faith is all about. If you can understand everything, you have the time, the money, it's all lined up, that doesn't really take any faith. God will ask you to do things that seem far out, unusual, not practical.
With every act of obedience there is a blessing attached to it. When you do what you know down in here God wants you to do, a blessing will follow. God rewards obedience.
One time Jesus made mud and put it on a blind man's eyes. He told him to go wash it off in the pool of Siloam. Jesus could have just as easily healed the blind man on the spot. He could have opened his eyes right then and there and sent him on his way. But obedience activates God's power. He put the ball back in the blind man's court. He said in effect, "If you want to be healed you're going to have to do something that doesn't make sense, something that's not logical. You're going to have to show that you trust me and go wash this off in the pool".
The blind man could have wiped the mud off with his own hands and thought, "I'm not going to do that. That doesn't make sense. That's going to be a waste of time". He could have thought, "I'm blind. I have these disadvantages. I can't make it down to the pool". But instead of making excuses, instead of talking himself out of it, he decided to just do it. He went to the pool, washed it off. Immediately he could see.
But here's the key. The healing wasn't in the water. The healing was in the obedience. When you obey, dreams come to pass. When you obey, health is restored. When you obey, problems turn around. I wonder how many miracles we would see if we would simply do what we know we're supposed to do. Are you talking yourself out of something because it's not practical, it doesn't make sense? "I know I should volunteer but I'm too busy". "I know I shouldn't hang around these friends but I don't want to be lonely". "I know I should get out of this job where I'm not going anyplace but at least I'm comfortable". No, quit putting it off and just do it. If you'll have bold obedience you'll see God's favor in a new way.
When Joshua and the Israelites needed to get across the Jordan river, God said he would open it up, but they had to get their feet wet before the waters parted. They could have sat back and thought, "As soon as God opens it, then we'll walk toward it. It doesn't make sense to go now. The river is still flowing. Everything is normal. Nothing is unusual". No, they took a step of faith and started walking toward the water.
I can imagine when water got up to their ankles they thought, "What are we doing walking into a river? We could drown". Water got up to their knees and thoughts said, "You'd better turn around. You're making a mistake". Water up to their waist. They just kept walking. What is that? Bold obedience. About that time the river supernaturally parted. They walked in to their Promised Land.
In the same way, if you're going to make it to your Promised Land it's going to take this bold obedience. You're not always going to understand what God is doing. God is not always logical. The scripture says, "His ways are not our ways". Take this in the right sense. Sometimes you have to turn your mind off. If you overanalyze it, look at it only in the natural, you'll never get off of dead center.
Faith is not in your head. Faith is in your heart. Down in here you'll know the right thing to do. Up here, you'll have a thousand excuses, a thousand reasons why it's not going to work out. You've got to turn your mind off and listen to your heart.
That's what I did in 1999. When my dad died I knew I was supposed to step up and pastor the church. I felt it so strongly down in here. But in my mind it didn't make sense. I had never ministered before, never been to seminary. I said, "God, this doesn't make sense to me but I'm going to take a step of faith, believing that you know what's best for my life". As I stepped into the water, as I got my feet wet, so to speak, that's when the waters parted. God has taken me places I've never dreamed of.
But some of you are waiting for the waters to part, then you're going to take a step of faith. But your obedience is what causes the water to part. You're waiting on God but God is waiting on you. If you'll do what you know God is asking you to do your obedience will activate the favor, the increase, the blessing. Much of what happens along the way are simply tests. God is seeing, "Do you trust me? Will you obey even when you don't understand it? Will you take a step of faith even when it doesn't make sense"?
Back in the 1960's, Lakewood was still in its original building; a feed store that held 200 people. The church was really growing. They needed a larger auditorium. My father told the congregation that on a particular Sunday he was going to receive a special offering for a new building. He asked them to see what God would have them to give and really pray about it. He encouraged them to stretch their faith, to believe big and to do their very best.
He received the offering and it was a little over $6,000. To them back then that was like $600,000. Daddy was so excited. That was enough to pour the foundation and get the building started. But one day driving home from church my father passed a small Spanish church about six blocks from Lakewood. This Spanish church had been building on a little auditorium for years. They would build and take time off, build some more, on and on.
As my father passed he heard a voice down in here say, "I want you to give that special offering to this Spanish church so they can finish their building". Daddy's first thought was, "Get behind me, Satan". "That could not be God". He began to reason it out. "God, you mean you want me to give the money I just raised, the money we need, the money we've been dreaming about, money we've been praying for. You want me to give that to a church down the street"? It didn't make sense. It didn't seem logical. He needed the funds yet God said, "Sow it as a seed".
My father had this bold obedience. He said, "Alright, God". He wrote them a check. They nearly passed out. Over the next few months people began to come from nowhere giving money to the Lakewood new sanctuary. They not only had enough for the foundation but enough for the whole building. A year later they moved into a 1,000 seat sanctuary totally debt free.
You can't out-give God. When God asks you to do something just do it. If you talk yourself out of it not only is the other person not being blessed but you're missing the blessing God has for you. How many times have I talked myself out of doing what I knew God wanted me to do? I knew I was supposed to call a friend and encourage them. I knew I was supposed to help that family with their rent. But I got busy. I thought, "God, they look like they're doing okay. They've got as much as I do. Maybe next time". I wonder what I missed out on. I wonder what God couldn't release. When you obey, a blessing is always attached to it.
Eight years ago we moved out of our old sanctuary from the other location. We had been at the piece of property for over 40 years before I was born. On the last Sunday there, after the final service, I was driving away and just reflecting on all that God had done out there through the years and thinking about where God was taking us. My heart was filled with gratitude.
About that time I passed the small Spanish church six blocks down the road. They had written on their little makeshift marquee, "Thank you Lakewood for giving us our first sanctuary". They remembered it 40 years later. I thought how we were headed to this place, a $400,000,000 facility, but it all started over four decades ago when my father took that bold step of obedience. Even when he didn't understand it, even when Lakewood needed the funds, he was willing to give it away. I realize I am reaping a harvest from seeds that were sown many years ago.
When you have bold obedience you don't know where God is going to take you. You don't argue with God, you don't reason it out, you don't make excuses, you just do it. You can't imagine the doors God is going to open, not only for you but for your children. I'm sure my father is looking down from heaven right now thinking, "I never dreamed Lakewood would be where it is today".
That's what happens when you have bold obedience. We can all obey when it's easy, when it makes sense, when it's logical, when it doesn't take any extra effort. "Yeah, Joel. I'll go to church. I'll tithe my income. I'll be kind to people. I'll have a good attitude". That doesn't really take much faith. But what about when it's out of the ordinary and God asks you to not only go to church but swing by and pick up that couple that's struggling and bring them to church with you each week? "God, wait a minute. I've got a fulltime job. I'm raising these children. I'm very busy. God, they live 20 minutes out of the way. I'm going to have to get up earlier. That's going to take extra gas money. God, they may want to come eat lunch with me afterwards". "God, I'll pick them up but I am not buying their lunch".
No, when God asks you to do something that takes sacrifice, something that's out of the ordinary, it's because God wants to release blessings in your life that are out of the ordinary. When you radically obey you will be radically blessed. You know what this building is? It's a radical blessing. It's because my parents and that first group of Lakewood members sowed a radical seed.
That's what happened to Isaac. In the scripture, there was a great famine in the land. There had been a drought for many years, hardly any food, no water. People were struggling to survive. God told Isaac to take a step of faith and plant his crops. That didn't make sense. There was no way to water the crops. It looked like it would be a waste of time. Isaac could have said, "God, have you seen the conditions lately? Have you checked the weather report? Do you realize it hasn't rained in years? Nothing is going to grow".
He could have looked at it just in the natural logical way and talked himself out of it but Isaac had this bold obedience. It says in Genesis 26, "In the midst of the famine he sowed a seed in the land".
I can imagine his friends saying, "Isaac, what in the world are you doing? Do you realize nothing is going to grow in a drought"? He didn't talk himself out of it. Didn't get discouraged. He just kept planting. What was he doing? Sowing a radical seed. What happened? He reaped a radical harvest. The scripture says, "In the same year, in the famine, he received a 100 fold return". He could have held onto those seeds for years waiting for the conditions to be perfect. Nothing would have happened.
Isaac understood this principle. The power was not in the seed. The power is in the obedience. That's when miracles happen. The conditions don't have to be perfect. The economy doesn't have to be booming for you to be blessed. You don't have to have the most education, the most talent, live in a certain neighborhood. All the odds can be against you but when God asks you to do something and you don't argue, you don't make excuses, you just do it.
Like Isaac, "God, I don't understand it but I'm going to sow a seed anyway". Like my father, "God, we need the money but I'm going to bless that Spanish church anyway". Like I did, "God, I don't feel qualified but I'm going to take a step of faith". That's when you'll see a harvest in the midst of the famine. You'll be blessed even though others are struggling. You'll be promoted even though you weren't the most qualified. You'll see dreams come to pass even though the odds were against you.
Friends, God is looking for people who will have this bold obedience. If God has to talk you into it, send you seven signs before you decide to believe. "God, if you will just have lightning strike across the sky and spell my name out in smoke, I'll believe". "God, if you will just have Moses show up at my front door tonight". Or, "God, if a see a camel walking down the freeway this week then I'll believe". No, make a decision to just do it. "Well, Joel. What if it's not right? What if I miss God"? Like Joyce Meyer says, "Then God will find you". But God would rather you take steps of faith and miss it every once in a while than to play it safe your whole life and never get off dead center. The only way you're ever going to really know is by taking a step of faith.
A couple of years after Victoria and I were married we sold our townhome. We found this house that we really wanted to buy. We made a great offer. We prayed over it. We believed for it. But unfortunately they sold the property to someone else. For the next several months we kept looking and looking. One day we found this old rundown house.
It was on a large piece of property in a nice neighborhood. The house had been abandoned. Doors were missing. In the kitchen for some reason they had a scarecrow. There was a big garbage can. Water was dripping from the ceiling. It had major foundation problems. The floors were all bowed. Nothing about the house was nice. The lot was very beautiful but the house in the current condition wasn't livable. I wasn't there ten minutes when I heard something down in here saying, "Joel, this is it". I thought to myself, "I don't know who you are but this is not it". "This is a piece of junk". I couldn't get away from it.
That feeling would not leave. Here we had just moved out of a beautiful townhome. I said, "God, we want to move up and not down. This is the wrong direction". That still small voice kept saying, "Joel, trust me. I know what I'm doing". About that time Victoria came up with a big smile. She said, "Joel, this is the place for us". I thought, "Dear God. We're both going crazy". Long story short, we bought the property, fixed up the house.
A year later a builder knocked on the front door, unexpectedly, unannounced. I answered it. He said, "I'd like to buy this property and build two new houses here". I said, "Well, thank you but the property is not for sale". He said, "How about I pay you this much"? I said, "Like I said, we'd love to sell it". God did exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond. We felt like Isaac...That hundred fold return.
What am I saying? God knows what he is doing. God has information that you don't have. He can see what you can't see. He knows the end from the beginning. Don't argue with God. You'll never win. God knows how to get his way. Trust him. Even when it seems far out, dare to have radical obedience. Instead of reasoning it out, making excuses, talking yourself out of it. No, make a decision to just do it. The quicker you obey the quicker God can release what he has for you.
In Acts, chapter nine, there is the story of Saul. Saul was the greatest enemy of the church. He hated believers and he was passionate about it. He went around having them arrested and put into prison. He was known for his persecution. The scripture says, "Saul was breathing out threatenings and slaughters against the disciples".
One day, Saul was traveling to Damascus, on his way to arrest more believers, when a bright light shined down from heaven, knocked him flat on his back. Saul became totally blind; couldn't see anything. The men with Saul were speechless. They picked Saul up, led him into Damascus totally blind.
There was a man that lived there by the name of Ananias, a believer. God spoke to him in a dream and told him to go to the house where Saul was staying and pray for him so that his sight would be restored. You can imagine what Ananias must have thought. I can hear him saying, "Excuse me, God? You want me to go pray for the man that's actively trying to kill us, the one that's hunting us down, the one that's breathing out threatenings? I don't think so. How about I send somebody from the prison ministry"? "How about I give him a phone call instead"? "But God, that's too dangerous. I'm not going to go".
God said, "No, Ananias. Do what I say. He is a chosen instrument to bear my name". Verse seventeen says, "Ananias went and found Saul. He laid hands on him and said, 'brother Saul.'" He not only found him but he called him brother. He could have called him a lot of other things. "You lousy, no good, loser trying to kill us. I hope you stay blind". No, Ananias prayed for Saul. His sight was restored. He became the apostle Paul who went on the write over half of the New Testament. None of this would have happened if Ananias had not had this bold obedience.
Sometimes God will ask you to do things that don't make sense. "God, you want me to do them a favor when they left me out on purpose? God, you want me to help them when they wouldn't help me"? Like Ananias, your first thought may be, "No way. I'm not going to do that". But if you listen again you'll hear God saying, "Just do it. Sow a radical seed. Take a step of faith". When you do, God will do something radical in your life. We can all make excuses, "Joel, it's too hard. It's too big a sacrifice. It's too inconvenient". But if you keep putting it off that is causing God to put off what he has in store for you. When you obey, a blessing is attached. You may not understand it. It may not make sense. That's okay. Be like Ananias and just do it.
My brother Paul was a surgeon in little rock for seventeen years. He had a very successful practice. He was the chief of surgery. He and his partners owned the new hospital. Life was good. He was helping a lot of people. But when my father went to be with the Lord, Paul was driving home from the memorial service, going back to little rock, Arkansas, when he heard that still small voice say, "Go back to Houston and help them pastor the church".
In the natural, that didn't make sense. He had gone to school for twelve years to become a surgeon, had all this training, all this expertise. His colleagues thought he was making a big mistake. They told him he was having a mid-life crisis and tried to talk him out of it but deep down Paul knew that he was supposed to leave his practice. He had to turn his mind off and listen to his heart. Even though he didn't understand it, it's not what he had planned for his life, he made a decision to just do it.
That was fourteen years ago. Lakewood wouldn't be where we are today without my brother Paul. Now Paul goes to the remote villages of Africa and spends months every year operating on people that would normally have no access to healthcare. He's still using his gifts. He thought he was walking away from medicine but God knew what he was doing. God's plan is better than our plan. Not only that, now he gets to work with me every day. How great is that? But when you have bold obedience God will take you into the fullness of your destiny.
God asked Abraham to do something radical, to take his son Isaac, the one he had prayed and believed to have his whole life, the promised child and put him on an altar and sacrifice him. Abraham didn't understand it. It didn't make sense but Abraham had this bold obedience. Just as he was about to go through with it an angel said, "Stop, Abraham. Don't do it. God just wanted to see if you would be obedient".
The scripture says, "The angel called to Abraham a second time". The blessing is not the first call. The first call is obedience. If you'll obey there will be a second call. Genesis 22 says, "The angel called a second time and said, "I swear by myself, says the Lord, Abraham, I will bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars. You will conquer your enemies. Your offspring will be blessed in every nation of the earth because you have obeyed me".
Notice when you radically obey God promises he will radically bless. But here is the key. The first call is not the blessing. The first call is the test. "Will you obey me"? Will you buy that old house even though it doesn't make sense? Will you give that Spanish church the money you need? Will you leave a successful practice and come help your family pastor the church? If you obey you'll pass the test. Then you'll hear the second call. That's when God will say, "All right. Now I'm going to bless you more than you can imagine".
Some of you today, there is something you know down deep you're supposed to do. You're debating it. You're analyzing. You're making excuses. God is saying, "Just do it". Sow a radical seed. Answer the first call. Be obedient and you'll come into the second call - the blessing.
You may not understand it. It may not make sense. That's all right. Just turn your mind off and listen to your heart. God knows what he is doing. If you will make a decision to just do it then I believe and declare, because you radically obey, you're about to come in to radical blessings. Because you have bold obedience God is going to do something amazing in your life. Like Isaac, the seeds you have sown are going to be multiplied back to you. And like Abraham, God is going to thrust you into the fullness of your destiny, taking you further than you've ever even dreamed of. In Jesus' name.