Joel Osteen — Nothing Is Wasted
I want to talk to you tonight about nothing is wasted. Victoria and I have some flower beds at home and several times a year, we put mulch in those beds. Mulch is a fertilizer that helps the plants to grow. And one of the main ingredients of mulch is manure, it's waste. It smells really bad. For a couple of days, you can hardly walk outside. Our kids say, "Dad, what happened out here? It stinks". The smell is so strong. But if you come back in a month or two, the smell is gone and the plants are blooming. They're blossoming. They're seeing new growth. The fertilizer, as bad as it smells, it's giving the plants valuable nutrients and minerals that they could not get otherwise.
In the same way, we all go through some things in life that stink. We don't like it. It wasn't fair. Why did my relationship not make it? Why did I come down with this sickness? Why did I lose my main client? That stinks. No, you need to have a new perspective. That's fertilizer. It may smell bad right now. It may seem like a bunch of manure got dumped on you. But if you will stay in faith, that's not going to hinder you, it's going to strengthen you. The stinky stuff, the loss, the disappointments, the betrayals, it's preparing you for new growth, to bloom, to blossom, to become all you were created to be.
The truth is, you cannot reach your highest potential without fertilizer. The stinky stuff is not working against you, it's working for you. It may smell bad right now, but if you'll keep doing the right thing, you will come in to a new season of growth. I would love to tell you if you have faith, you trust God, you be your best, you'll sail through life with no difficulty. But that's not reality. You're going to have some manure. There's going to be some stinky stuff.
What I want us to see is God wouldn't have allowed it unless he was ultimately going to use it for your good. And instead of complaining, thinking, "Oh man, this stinks. I can't believe this happened". No, have the attitude "It's just more fertilizer. God's getting me prepared for something greater". If you'll go through the stink with the right attitude, God will take what was meant for your harm and he'll use it to your advantage. You may feel like you've had more than your share of stinky stuff. Bad breaks, disappointments, broken dreams. Be encouraged. That just means you have a lot of fertilizer. God's getting you ready to go where you've never been.
And this is not the time to be discouraged, have a chip on your shoulder. This is the time to get ready. God allowed that fertilizer to get you prepared for where you could not go on your own. You may not have liked it, but it deposited something in you that you could only gain by going through it. You couldn't learn it by reading a book, by listening to a message, by taking a class. You could only learn it through experience, through the trial of your faith. That's where we're really developed. David said, "God, enlarge me in my time of distress". He didn't get enlarged in the good times. He got enlarged in the tough times.
That difficulty is strengthening you. It's getting you prepared. Now you're in position to go to a new level. Quit complaining about the fertilizer. Quit talking about who hurt you, what didn't work out, all the manure that got dumped on you. Without the stinky stuff, you couldn't reach the fullness of your destiny. It's not hindering you, it's helping you. If it was too much, God would have never allowed it. You've got to dig your heels in and say, "I am in it to win it. I am not going to let this stinky stuff, this stuff I don't understand, cause me to give up on my dream. I know it's fertilizer. It's strengthening me. It's enlarging me. It's getting me prepared for new levels".
That's what a friend of mine did that grew up in a very difficult situation. Her father died when she was six years old. Her mother had to go on dialysis shortly after that. When other children were out cheer-leading and having fun, she was having to take care of her mother. Twelve years old, she'd have to go to the grocery store, cook for the family. She had to get her little brother dressed and ready for school each day. It looked like she was at a disadvantage, like that hardship would keep her from her destiny.
But just because something unfair has happened, it doesn't mean God doesn't have an amazing future still in front of you. It may stink right now, but remember, manure has a lot of helpful ingredients. It's fertilizer. Used the right way, it gives you an advantage, it causes growth. And this young lady, she didn't have a victim mentality, she had a victor mentality. She didn't go around complaining. She kept being her best, taking the high road, not letting negative thoughts talk her out of her dreams. In spite of all the odds being against her, she excelled in high school. She got a full scholarship to a major university. She went on to get her master's degree. Today she has her doctorate degree. She's extremely successful in the corporate world. Happily married, three beautiful children.
Here's my question. Why do some people in that same type situation struggle through life, defeated, discouraged, always overcome by problems? And yet others like her overcome the odds and see God's blessing and favor in great ways. It's in our approach to life. We all have stinky stuff. Unfair things that we don't like. We can get bitter, sour, discouraged, or we can see it as fertilizer and say "This difficulty is not going to defeat me, it's going to promote me". God wouldn't have allowed it unless he had a purpose.
Don't just go through it, grow through it. Recognize it's making you stronger. You're developing trust, confidence, determination. You are well able. If God be for you, who dare be against you? You've got to put your shoulders back, hold your head up high. You were never created to live defeated, overcome by problems, always having bad breaks. You were created to be the overcomer. Not the victim, but the victor. You have the most powerful force in the universe on the inside. Winning is in your DNA. Life may not have treated you fair, but God is fair.
And in those stinky situations, you have to remember it's fertilizer. That's an opportunity to grow. It doesn't have to keep you from your destiny; just the opposite, it can propel you to your destiny. And what stinks in your life right now, what you don't like, can be the very thing that promotes you and causes you to blossom. Don't complain about the stink. There's promotion in that stink. Don't be discouraged by the sour stuff, the stinky situations, there's a new level in that stinky situation. Don't be put out by the fertilizer, by the manure. It may not smell good but it's helping you to grow. It's developing something on the inside.
When I look back in my life, I realize I didn't grow much in the good times. I grew in the difficult times. That's what's getting us prepared for the amazing future God has in store. And you may feel like you've had more than your fair share of fertilizer, of stinky stuff. Here's why: because God has a big destiny in front of you. He's about to take you some place that you've never dreamed. He's getting you prepared. Your roots are going down deeper. The manure doesn't smell good but it's giving you valuable nutrients that you could not get otherwise.
That person at the office that gets on your nerves, doesn't treat you respectfully, next time you see them, just smile and say to yourself, "You're just fertilizer. You stink but you're helping me to grow. You think you're pushing me down but really you're pushing me up". Don't say it to their face now, I'm not telling you that. When you go through a bad break, a disappointment, the medical report wasn't good. It's okay to be honest. "This stinks, I don't like it but I know a secret: it's fertilizer. It's going to cause me to grow, to bloom, to blossom, to flourish".
This is what Joseph did in the scripture. His brothers were jealous of him and they threw him into a pit. He could have gotten discouraged. "God, I'm a good person. Why did this happen to me"? No, he realized it's just fertilizer. "They're trying to stop me. But God's going to use it to increase me". One bad thing after another happened to him. They sold him into slavery. Potiphar's wife, his boss's wife, lied about him and he got put in prison, falsely accused. He spent 13 years in prison for something that he didn't do.
They were trying to hold him back but they didn't realize they were putting fertilizer on him. Joseph was getting stronger. He was growing. His roots were going down deeper. They thought they were stopping him. The truth is they were strengthening him. That injustice, that stinky situation, looked like it wasted years of his life. But just like fertilizer gives plants valuable nutrients, that difficulty was doing a work in Joseph, getting him prepared for the next level of his destiny. He interpreted a dream for the pharaoh. Pharaoh was so impressed with Joseph, he got him out of prison and put him in charge of the whole nation.
And if you will stay in faith in the stinky times, the times you don't understand it. You're doing the right thing but the wrong thing keeps happening. Then when it's your time to be promoted, to be vindicated, to bloom, to blossom, all the forces of darkness cannot stop you. People don't have the final say. God has the final say. He will get you to where he wants you to be. Joseph went from the pit to the prison all the way to the palace.
You may kind of feel like you're in a pit tonight. Had some bad breaks, dealing with a sickness, lost a loved one, a dream died. Like Joseph, that pit is not the end of your story. The prison is not your final chapter. Your story ends in the palace. You are destined to live a victorious life. David said, "God lifted me out of the pit and put a new song in my heart". You may be in the pit, but you need to get ready, you're about to come out.
That sickness is not the end. That depression is not the end. That person that left you, the one that broke your heart, is not the end of your story. If they left you, you didn't need them. If they walked away, they were not a part of your destiny. God has somebody better! Now, don't get comfortable in the pit. Don't let self-pity and discouragement steal your passion. You've got to get your fire back. Everything God promised you, he still has every intention of bringing it to pass. The palace is in your future. Dreams coming to pass are in your future. Victory, restoration, health and wholeness, that's what's up in front of you. That's how your story ends.
I talked to a gentleman who was very upset because his boss was against him and always trying to make him look bad. This boss was jealous of him. Wouldn't ever give him any credit or recognition. And I told him what I'm telling you. It's just fertilizer. It may stink right now but don't worry, fertilizer stinks. That just means you're about to see new growth. He got his passion back. He started going to the office, being his best. Being productive. Working unto God and not unto man.
Several occasions, he should have been promoted but because of his unfair boss, he got passed over. And one day, the CEO of the whole company was in town from out-of-state. This man had to make a presentation. The CEO was very impressed with his work. About a year later, a position became available that should have gone to this unfair boss, but the CEO bypassed that boss and went directly to this man and offered him the position. Now, instead of having to work for the unfair boss, the tables have turned, the boss is working for him.
When you stay in faith, one touch of God's favor, you'll go from the back to the front. From the employee to the employer. From the pit to the palace. We all have stinky situations. Things that are not fair. People not treating us right. You have to see it like Joseph as fertilizer. They're not going to stop you, that's going to promote you. That person that lied about you, tried to make you look bad. Don't get upset. They just put fertilizer on you. They think they're pushing you down, and really they're pushing you up. You're one step closer to your palace. Or that mistake you made. You feel like you blew it, you're all washed up. "Joel, I had my chance". No, God uses the stinky stuff. You can't blossom into all you were created to be without some fertilizer.
Sometimes, we bring trouble on ourselves. We make poor choices. The accuser constantly whispers in our ear. "God's not going to bless you. You had your chance. You blew it". No, God doesn't waste anything that you go through. It may not have been good. But God knows how to bring good out of it.
John chapter 4. Jesus met this woman at a well. He told her that he would give her living water. She said, "Please give it to me". He said, "Go call your husband". She said, "I don't have a husband". Jesus said, "You're right. You've had five and the man you're living with now is not your husband". She was amazed at how this man that she had just met knew everything about her. She got kind of spiritual, and said, "I know one day, the Messiah will come". Jesus looked at her and said, "I am the Messiah".
The first person Jesus ever told he was the Messiah was this woman. A woman that had had a rough past, made mistakes; that had some stinky stuff. She went back and told the whole town, "Come see this man. He must be the Messiah". God used her as the first evangelist to get the word out.
Now here's my point, this woman was comfortable around men. Married five times. If she would have been intimidated, insecure, quiet, reserved, she wouldn't have told many people. But God took what the enemy used against her, her boldness, her straight-forwardness, and not only turned it around. But God said in effect, "This has gotten you into trouble in the past. I'm gonna make the enemy pay. I'm going to use this to advance my kingdom". It had worked against her. Now it was working for her.
Friends, God knows how to use what you've been through. He doesn't waste any experience. You may have made poor choices, but God can take your mess and turn it into your message.
I have a friend that grew up for many years in an outlaw motorcycle gang. He was always on drugs, breaking the law, in and out of prison, living a very violent life. It didn't look like he'd ever get on the right course. But this young man had a praying mother at home. Everyday, she said, "Lord, you said as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. Thank you for turning my son around".
One Sunday morning, this young man was so depressed, so high on drugs, he decided to end his life. And just before he took this whole bottle of pills, for some reason he turned on the television and saw my father ministering. He got on his motorcycle, still high as a kite, and drove to Lakewood. He walked into service as mean as can be. Rough, tattooed, the beard. The ushers took him all the way down to the front and sat him on the second row.
That day, he felt a love that he had never felt. He left the service, went out to the parking lot, nobody asked him to do it. He got down on his knees by his motorcycle and said, "God if you're real, help me to change. I'm giving my life to you". Today, this man is a pastor of a church. He has a major motorcycle ministry. He goes back to the outlaw gang members and shares his story of how God changed his life. God doesn't waste any experiences. He can use what you've been through to help others that are going through the same situation.
Last year, there was a story on the news about a 19-year-old student. He walked into a high school with an assault rifle and started shooting. He didn't hit any people, only windows. After everyone scattered, he barricaded himself in this small room. There was a woman hiding behind the counter, the high school accountant. A middle-aged woman named miss Tuff. At one point she stood up and their eyes met. He drew the rifle and she began to talk to him. She was very kind and calm as can be. You could tell she won him over.
He was comfortable and began to open up. He told how he was off of his medicine. He felt hopeless, like he had no purpose in life. Miss Tuff said, "I know how you feel. My husband of 33 years left me and last year I tried to commit suicide. But by the grace of God, it didn't happen". She went on to tell how God had given her a new beginning. Now she was restored and started a new business. Excited about her life. She looked him in the eyes and said, "God did it for me. He can do it for you".
Standing there with the assault rifle, helicopters overhead, SWAT teams surrounding the building, the young man put the rifle down, walked out peacefully, nobody was harmed. Miss Tuff said afterwards, "I know God put me there because I've been through what he's going through". Nothing is wasted, the good, the bad, the painful. God knows how to use it. If you will stay in faith, it will not only act like fertilizer and make you stronger, but somewhere down the road, you will be instrumental in helping somebody else.
One time in the scripture, David was on the run. King Saul was jealous of him and trying to kill him. He left in such a hurry, he forgot to get his sword. He got to the next town and told the leaders that he was on assignment from the king and it was so urgent that he didn't have time to get his weapon. He asked if they had a sword or a spear that he could borrow. They said, "All we have is the sword of Goliath whom you defeated in the valley".
David's face lit up. He thought, "There's no sword like that sword. Let me have it. I'll take that". He left that day with the sword that was meant to defeat him. Now, he's using the same sword to defeat others.
The enemies that have tried to defeat you: the sickness, the depression, the bad break, the injustice. You're not only going to defeat them, but you're going to use those same experiences to defeat others. You have some swords in your future. Battles you've won. Enemies you've defeated. Challenges you've outlasted. Those victories are going to be there for when you need them. They were meant to defeat you , to harm you, to keep you from your destiny. God knows how to not only turn it around, not only give you the victory, but he'll put that same sword in your future that will help you overcome other obstacles.
I saw a report on the news about a small city in south America that was built on a garbage dump. Everywhere you looked, there was trash. Trash in the streets, in the rivers, in the yards. All you could see was waste. Very poor people lived there. Barely any electricity or running water. They make their living by searching through the trash trying to find something that they can sell. Hours and hours a day, they rummage through it, hoping to make a few cents.
It didn't look like anything good could come out of a garbage dump. But a gentleman showed up by the name of Fabio Chavez. He saw the children playing in the garbage and it broke his heart. He wanted to help. He decided to start a music school right there in the trash heap. He didn't have money for new instruments. So he found a carpenter friend that lived in the same city. And they started going through the trash looking for materials they could use to make instruments. An old piece of pipe would become part of a saxophone. Discarded wooden boxes, parts of guitars. Different size buckets and barrels would become drums.
In a few months, he had violins, cellos, guitars, drums, all made from trash. He taught the children how to play. They were so excited. Now they have a full orchestra made up of dozens and dozens of children playing these instruments made from the garbage dump. They put a clip on Youtube and it went viral. They started getting invitations from around the world. Today they play in concert halls everywhere they go before tens of thousands.
People were not only so moved by their story that they started donating instruments but they started sending in funds to help the children improve their lives. They talked to a noted musician at the end of the story and she made a statement that stuck with me.
That's the way our God is. He can take the broken dreams, the mistakes, the injustice. It doesn't look like any good can come out of it. It looks like this is waste. No, God knows how to make music out of your mess. He's got you in the palm of his hand. Nothing that's happened to you has been wasted. It's all been a part of making you into who you were created to be. It may not have been good but God knows how to use it for your good. He can take the very thing that was meant to defeat you and instead cause it to propel you.
No obstacle is too big. No enemy is too powerful. The forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. And like David, you may be in a tough time, but you're about to see one of your swords. People can't stop it. Bad breaks can't stop it. Trash can't stop it. Injustice can't stop it. Like Joseph, you're about to rise to the top. You may be in the pit, but get ready, you're going to come into that palace.
Shake off the disappointments. Shake off the self-pity. This is a new day. Your best days are not your yesterdays. They are still out in front of you. The enemy would not be fighting you so hard unless he knew there was something amazing in your future. It may be difficult, it may smell bad right now, but remember it's fertilizer. It's working to your advantage. You're getting stronger. You're growing. And I believe and declare, you're going to flourish, you're going to bloom, you're going to blossom. I speak victory over you. I speak abundance over you. I speak restoration, vindication, health, wholeness, increase, the fullness of your destiny in Jesus' name.