Joel Osteen — Just Obey
I want to talk to you today about "Just obey". Many times we don't realize that God is speaking to us. We have an impression on the inside, a prompting to be good to someone. That's not random. That's God talking to us. Or you're in a situation, and you feel an unrest, an uneasiness. On the surface, it seems fine. It looks like a good opportunity but down in here an alarm is going off. Something's saying, it's not right, stay away. That's not just your nerves, it's not just you being overly cautious. That's God wanting to protect you.
When you feel these impressions, these promptings, don't ignore it, don't talk yourself out of it, just obey. If you'll follow that still small voice, it says in Psalms that God will lead you down the best path for your life. The scripture talks about our inner ear. Not a physical ear. You won't hear an audible voice, but if you'll be sensitive to what your inner ear is hearing, the still, small voice, the promptings, the suggestions, the alarms, then God will keep you from heartache and pain. He'll lead you into promotion and favor. He'll use you to be a blessing to others.
In the book of Deuteronomy, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and different instructions to follow. Then God said to the Israelites, "Do not add or subtract to what I've given you, just obey". Too often we feel these impressions, we have a knowing on the inside but we dismiss it and think, "Oh, I'll do that later". We override it and say, "I feel and unrest but it looks like a good opportunity". Or we over analyze it, "That couldn't be for me. That doesn't make sense". Don't talk yourself out of it, don't come up with excuses. God is saying to us what he said to the Israelites, "Just obey".
Years ago, a friend of mine was in church one Sunday. He was a young man, a new believer. He looked across the way and saw this woman. Something said to him so strongly on the inside, "Go give her a gift". He felt an impression to be good to her, but his mind said, "You don't even know the lady. She looks like she's doing fine. She doesn't need your money". He came up with excuse after excuse and he kept putting it off but he couldn't get away from it. He looked in his wallet, all he had that day was a five dollar bill. He thought, "There is no way I'm going to go give her five dollars. I'd be embarrassed". The whole service a debate was taking place in his mind. The longer he waited the more miserable he was. He knew he was supposed to do it.
Finally he got his nerve up. After the service, he went over to her and said, "Ma'am, I know you don't know me and this may seem kinda strange but I feel like I'm supposed to give you this". He placed the five dollar bill in her hand. She looked at it and started weeping. She said, "I only had enough gas to get to church. I prayed, "God, please give me the gas money to make it back home". She hugged him and said, "You're my miracle".
Friends, God knows what he's doing. He can see things that we can't see. Don't talk yourself out of it. When you obey that still small voice God will use you to brighten people's day. And here's the key, anytime you obey, a blessing will always follow. You'll never be good to someone else without God being good back to you. I wonder how much higher we would go, how much more of God's favor we would see if we would just obey. Not argue, not try to reason it out, not come up with excuses, God wants to lead you down the best path for your life. He knows where the favor is, where the promotion is, where the right people are. If you'll be sensitive to his voice, pay attention to what your inner ear is hearing, there's no limit to where God will take you.
Today my friend that gave that five dollars is extremely blessed, very successful. But if he had not learned to be faithful with the small, with the five, how could God trust him with more?
If you'll start being faithful with the small things you know you need to do. You hear that voice, that impression tells you, "You need to get to work on time", that's not just your conscience bothering you, that's God talking to you. You feel that prompting, "You need to quit drinking so much coffee, you need to take that course to improve your skills, you need to stop being sarcastic to your spouse".
God talks to us about practical things. Sometimes we think he only talks to us about redemption, salvation, doctrine, righteousness, yes, but he also talks to us about keeping the house clean, about not staying up all night watching television, about not leaving the grocery cart in the parking lot, putting it back where you found it, about everyday things.
When I was in my early twenties, I had a ballgame at 9:30 at night on the other side of town. I left with plenty of time to get there but there was construction on the freeway. I was delayed about thirty minutes. I had to make up a lot of ground to make it to my game on time. Once I got through the construction, the freeway was wide open. Nobody was on it. I had a black sports car. I was feeling good. I thought I'm going to open this thing up and see what it will do.
I'd tell you how fast I was going but my mother's sitting on the front row. I was flying, the whole time something down in here something was saying, "Slow down, slow down, slow down". I answered back, "No thanks, no thanks, no thanks". Nobody was on the road. I didn't see any other cars, then out of nowhere this car came up right next to me, started driving along side. I thought, "What do you know. He wants to race". He had an old, beat up, run down car. I thought, "What is he thinking? He doesn't have a chance".
I took off, floored it. He caught back up to me. This time when I looked over, he held up his badge in the window. He pointed at me and said very sternly, "Slow down". I drove 55 for the next seven years. But if we'll obey these promptings, God will keep us out of trouble. We'll avoid unnecessary heartache and pain. We know God says go into all the world and share the good news. But God also says, "Slow down on the freeway. Quit eating so much junk. Forgive your coworker. Be kind to your neighbor".
Pay attention to the practical things. The more you pass these tests, the more God can trust you, the more favor he'll release in your life. But if God has to argue with you about everything, you make excuses why you shouldn't follow those promptings, you'll get stuck. Isaiah said, "If you're willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land".
When you learn this principle to just obey, you feel that impression to call a friend and encourage them, "I'm going to call them". You hear that prompting be more disciplined in your spending, you're obedient. You have that knowing on the inside, "I know I need to eat healthier, I know I need to visit my parents, I know I need to take that class. Here's a key, the "I knows" are God talking to you. You didn't just come up with that. God is asking you to do it. Don't dismiss it, don't put it off. The "I knows" will lead you down that best path for your life. One way we know it's God, it doesn't go away. It keeps coming up again and again. In the middle of the night, you're not even thinking about it and there it is. That's God wanting to get your attention.
The scripture says God leads us by promptings. One version says by suggestions. God won't force you to do something. He won't override your will. He'll suggest it. "Hey, give them five bucks". It's up to us to do it. I've learned the more you obey, the easier it is to obey. The more sensitive you are to his voice, the more you respond, the easier it is to respond. You'll get to the place where you're guided by these promptings, you take the suggestions, you pull back when you feel an alarm. That's how the Holy Spirit leads us.
Paul talked about being a vessel used for God's highest purposes. God is looking for people that he can count on. People that at the slightest impression, the smallest suggestion, they move. God says go here, they go. Bless this person, they bless them. Change in this area, they change. They don't argue, they don't make excuses, they're not too busy, they just obey.
Psalm 25 says, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him". When you honor God he will tell you secrets. He will whisper things in your inner ear, give insight that you otherwise wouldn't have known. You don't know how you know it, you can't explain it, you just know it.
Sometimes we hear of people getting in trouble for insider trading. That means somebody on the inside of a company is giving information to somebody on the outside that's going to affect the price of the stock. That way they can sell off or buy more. They have an advantage because they have inside information. That's what God does for us. He knows where the good breaks are, he knows how to propel you years ahead. If you'll be sensitive to that voice, God will give you inside information. You'll know things that you shouldn't have known that will propel you toward your destiny.
A couple years after Victoria and I were married, we sold our town home and were looking to buy a house. We found several nice houses, we really liked them but it didn't work out. We came to this one very rundown, old house. Windows were broken out, water was dripping from the ceiling, foundation was all messed up. The house was in very bad shape but it was in a nice neighborhood on a large piece of property. Victoria and I looked at each other and said, "This is it. This is the house for us".
We had just moved out of a beautiful town home. In the natural, it didn't make sense. Everything, logically speaking, said, "This is going in the wrong direction, you're making a big mistake". But in our inner ear down in here something whispering, "This is for you". We purchased the property. What no one knew was the neighborhood was about to change the deed restrictions where you could subdivide the lots. Two years later, we sold half of the property for more than we paid for the whole property. That was God whispering secrets in our ear.
Don't ignore what you're hearing on the inside. It may not seem logical, but God can see things that you cannot see. He knows where the advantages are. He knows how to accelerate your dreams, how to make things happen quicker than you thought.
I talked to a gentleman recently and he had applied for a job at this large company. The interview went well, they really liked the man but they told him the position wasn't going to be available for at least six months. They weren't going to make a decision on who to hire for some time. When they did, they would let him know.
About a month later, he woke up one morning and something said to him so strongly, "You need to call the company and check on the position". They had just told him it would be six months. He didn't want to seem overly anxious or do anything that might put them off, but he couldn't get away from it. That afternoon he finally picked up the phone and called. The man said, "I can't believe you're calling. The position is not supposed to open up till next year but earlier this morning we had a meeting and decided to fill it right now". He asked the man, "Can you start next week"?
Friends, God knows it all. We have inside information. Don't ignore those promptings. That's God whispering secrets in your ear. If you'll just obey, God will give you an advantage. He'll make things happen you could never make happen.
In the scripture, there was a man named Naaman. He was a captain in the syrian army, a very well respected and influential man, but he had leprosy, an incurable disease. A young maid that worked for him told him that, "If you'll go see the prophet Elisha in Israel, Elisha will pray for you and you'll be healed". Naaman took the young lady's advice, traveled a great distance, showed up at Elisha's house. But Elisha didn't go out to meet him at the door, he didn't go pray over him. Elisha told his assistant to go tell Naaman if he will wash in the Jordan river seven times, he'll be healed.
Well Naaman was offended. He thought, "Does he know who I am? Does he know how far I've traveled? If I need to wash in a river, it's not going to be the Jordan river, that's dirty. We have much cleaner rivers back at home". He came up with all these excuses, "That doesn't make sense, that's not logical". God is not going to explain everything that he asks us to do. This is what faith is all about. You just have to trust him.
Naaman almost missed his miracle. He turned around and was about to go back home until his assistant said, "Naaman, if he would have asked you to do something hard, you would have done it. Why don't you do this small thing"? Naaman said, "Well, I thought Elisha would come out and wave his hand over me and like magic, make me whole". He had a preconceived idea of how God was going to do it. You can't put God in a box. He may not bring your dream to pass the way you're thinking. He may not turn the problem around in a traditional manner. God's ways are not our ways. They are better than our ways. Stay open and let God do it his way.
Naaman didn't want to do a small thing, but I've learned small acts of obedience lead to big blessings. It's not necessarily what you're doing, it's the obedience that activates God's power. When you obey in small things, when it doesn't seem like it matters, when nobody is watching, when you don't feel like it but you keep doing the right thing, you're faithful, you're a person of excellence, obedience in the small, leads to God's blessings in great ways.
This assistant talked Naaman in to going down and washing in the Jordan river. I can imagine when Naaman got in he thought, "This is dirty, it stinks, I don't like it". Everything in his mind was saying, "You're wasting your time, this is not making any difference". If you allow it, your mind can talk you out of your miracle. Negative thoughts can keep us from God's best. Naaman dipped down in the water the first time, he came up, he checked his skin, nothing had changed. Dipped down the second time, nothing, third time, nothing, fourth time, nothing. I'm sure he thought, "If this was going to work, I'd be getting better by now. I've done the right thing four times in a row. I've done exactly what that prophet said and I'm not any better".
He was discouraged, felt like going back home again. He thought, "You know what, I've come this far, I might as well finish it out". Dipped down the fifth time, nothing, sixth time, nothing. What's interesting is Naaman didn't have the faith that it was going to happen. He didn't believe he was going to get well, he wasn't singing praises, thanking God that the answer was coming. He was complaining, negative, sour he dipped down that seventh time, when he came up his skin was perfectly normal, it looked like a baby's skin.
Here's my point, the healing wasn't in the water, or he would have been healed the first time. The healing was in the obedience. Could it be that your healing will come when you obey? Your promotion, your breakthrough, the restoration will come if you'll just keep doing the right thing? "Well, Joel I'm being my best, I'm honoring God. I don't see anything happening". Don't worry, your time is coming. You may be on number four, number five. The good news, number seven is on the way. God rewards obedience. Your healing is coming, the right people are coming, new opportunities are coming, freedom is coming.
Keep being obedient, stay on that high road. It may be uncomfortable, it may not be fair, but God is in complete control. He's a rewarder of those that honor him. I love the fact that Naaman's obedience overrode the fact that he didn't have the faith. This is how powerful obedience is.
There are times in life that we don't feel like we have the faith we need. We want to believe but we don't see how we could get well, how we could accomplish a dream, how our future's going to be bright. Here's the key, until your faith grows just keep being obedient, doing what you know to do, following that still small voice.Your obedience will override the fact that you don't have enough faith.
I can't prove it but I believe Naaman got healed while he was complaining, "I don't like this water, it's dirty, it smells bad". He came up the seventh time, "I told you it wasn't going to work". He looked at his arms, he couldn't believe it. He went from complaining to giving praise. He said, "Now I know the God of Israel is the true and the living God". I'm not for complaining, talking defeat, being negative. There are examples where that keeps people out of their Promised Land, but in this case obedience overrode all of that.
Like Naaman, when you face situations you don't like, you don't understand it, the odds are against you, if you'll just keep doing the right thing, your breakthrough is on the way. When you obey, miracles happen, healing is released, new doors will open. See, every time you obey, you're sowing a seed. When it's difficult, you're uncomfortable, you don't feel like it, but you do it any way. You're sowing an extraordinary seed. That means you're going to reap an extraordinary harvest. God will never ask you to do something and then not give you the power to do it. When he asks you to walk away from a friend that's pulling you down or to get rid of a habit that you know is ruining your health, he's not trying to take something from you, he's trying to get something better to you. If you'll just obey, you'll come up to a new level of your destiny.
Growing up, we knew this man that loved to play the piano. He was very talented but he had rheumatoid arthritis. Over the years, it kept getting worse and worse. He came to the point where his fingers were all bent over like a fist. He couldn't open them up. His joints were swollen, very painful, obviously he couldn't play the piano anymore.
One day he heard my father talking about the importance of forgiveness and how we should let things go. And how when we carry bitterness and hold a grudge, it poisons our life. He felt convicted. He had held something against his parents for many years. He felt like they had done him wrong, he'd carried around this bitterness year after year. He knew to let it go, he heard the still small voice saying, "Hey, move on with your life". But he wouldn't do it. But that day when he heard my father, he made the decision that he was going to forgive his parents.
He didn't feel like doing it, he didn't think they deserved it, but out of an act of obedience, he let it go. Over the next few months, little by little, his fingers started opening up. The swelling started going down, the pain started subsiding. A year later, he could sit down and play the piano like he'd never missed a beat.
The healing was in the obedience. He sowed an extraordinary seed, forgiving somebody that hurt him. He reaped an extraordinary harvest, his health was restored. Is there something you've been putting off, you know you should do? Maybe like him, you feel like you have a great right to hold a grudge, to be angry, they did you wrong. All that's going to do is poison your own life, affect your dreams, affect your health.
You have to forgive so you can be free, forgive so your healing will be released. Not just physically, but when you let it go, God can make you emotionally whole. That's when he'll give you beauty for ashes. You'll start loving again, start laughing again, start dreaming again. I know faith gets God's attention, but obedience activates God's power. You can have great faith, but if you're ignoring the still small voice, if you're overriding what you know God wants you to deal with, it can keep you from your miracle sometimes God asks us to do a hard thing.
God told Abraham to take his son Isaac, this was the son that Abraham and Sarah had waited twenty years to have. They had prayed and believed, now finally little Isaac was here. Abraham was to take Isaac on a mountain and sacrifice him. They took a three day journey, went way up on this mountain, but just when Abraham was about to follow through, God said, "Abraham don't do it. I just wanted to see if you would be obedient when it was extremely difficult". Abraham looked over and saw a ram caught in the bush. He knew that was the sacrifice.
What's interesting is rams don't normally go that high up in the mountain. That's not natural to them. But when you do what God's asking you to do, every step you take in obedience the ram is taking a step towards you. You may not be able to see it, "Joel, I'm doing the right thing, it doesn't look like anything's changing". What you can't see is on the other side of the mountain, your healing, your provision, your abundance, your breakthrough is making its way toward you.
Like Abraham, we're not going to understand everything God asks us to do. It may be difficult. It's hard to forgive someone that's hurt you, it's hard to keep a good attitude when the medical report is negative. But if you'll sow this extraordinary seed and be obedient, then get ready, you're going see God's favor in extraordinary ways.
I'm asking you today to just obey. Don't try to figure it out, don't overanalyze it, just do what you know God's asking you to do. Pay attention to the still small voice. Start listening with your inner ear. God wants to whisper secrets, give you inside information that will propel you toward your destiny. If you'll do this, I believe and declare God is going to lead you down the best path for your life. You're going to see favor, increase, promotion, healing, vindication, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.