Joel Osteen — Trust God to Do it His Way
I want to talk to you today about trusting God to do it His way. We all have dreams that we're believing for and situations we want to see turn around but too often we put God in a box and tell him how to do it, when to do it and who to use to do it. The only problem is God's ways are not our ways. God doesn't always do things the logical way. God uses unorthodox methods. He is unconventional. It may not always make sense to our minds.
If you have these preconceived ideas of how you're going to be promoted and how you're going to get well it will limit what God can do. You have to stay open. Let God out of your box. You may only see one way that it could happen. It's obvious. You need to get that promotion so you'll have the funds to accomplish your dreams.
You've worked at the company 20 years. You deserve it but for no reason you get passed over. If you're not careful you'll get discouraged and start thinking, "It's never going to happen. I missed my opportunity. God, it's not fair". No, what you don't realize is God closed that door on purpose because he has something much better in front of you. Just because it's the logical way doesn't mean that it's God's way. Just because it happened that way before doesn't mean it's going to happen that way next time. Stay open. If you're narrow-minded you can miss God's best. Our attitude should be, "God, I'm letting you out of my box. You can do anything in my life. You can do it any time. You can use any person that you want. God, I trust you to do it your way".
When I look back over my life I can see times where God used people to help me that I never dreamed he would use. When we were trying to acquire this place, the former Compaq Center, the city council members had to vote on it. There were two men that were very influential, very well-connected, but they didn't have any kind of religious background. They loved to party, loved to have a good time. They were great people. They just weren't on my list of who I thought God would have chosen to help us.
What's interesting is we didn't pursue them. They pursued us. One of the men told me, "Joel, this is my personal mission. I'm going to do everything I can to make sure Lakewood gets the Compaq Center". My first thought was, "God, is this right? This is like oil and water. We don't come from the same type of background". It's easy to make narrow-minded judgments and think, "God can't use her. She's a sinner". "God can't use him. He likes to party". "God can't use them. They don't even believe in God". No, the longer I live the more I realize God can use whoever he wants to use. God can save whoever he wants to save. God can bring good out of whomever he wants to bring good out of.
In the old testament, God used Rahab the prostitute to save the people of Israel. God used a donkey to speak to the prophet. God used Pharaoh's daughter to take care of baby Moses. In other words, God used the enemy to take care of one of his children. Friends, God is God. He can do whatever he wants to do. Don't put him in a box and miss your miracle. If it had not been for those two men we may not be in our beautiful facility today. I've found a lot of times God is answering our prayer, it's just not the way that we expected.
When our son Jonathan was about four years old Victoria started praying that God would bring a young boy into his life so that they could be good friends. His cousin used to live down the street from us. They played practically every day together. When my dad went to be with the Lord they moved to another city and now Jonathan didn't have anybody close in the neighborhood to play with. Victoria prayed month after month, even year after year, that God would send the right person.
When Jonathan was about twelve years old one of our main guitar players, a young man named Michael, took a great interest in Jonathan and started teaching him how to play the guitar. They became good friends. Michael was always mentoring Jonathan and pouring into him. Jonathan is seventeen now. A couple of years ago Victoria said, "Joel, I realize now God did answer my prayer. He just didn't answer it in the way I expected. I prayed for God to send somebody into Jonathan's life. I thought it would be a little boy but instead God sent a grown man".
My point is, you have to stay open as to how God answers your prayer. It may not be the way you had planned. God may not use the people you were expecting. It may not happen on your timetable but this is what faith is all about. "God, I trust you. You know what's best for me. You know what I need. You know when I need it and you know who I need".
And some of you today are a little discouraged because things haven't worked out the way you had planned but you need to take another look. Maybe God has answered your prayers, just not the way you thought. Or maybe what you were asking for wasn't God's best and God loves you too much to answer that prayer. Or like in our case, maybe God has given you something better but because you're so set in seeing it happen your way you don't recognize it right now.
What if God knew that if he answered Victoria's prayer and brought a little boy that Jonathan would have been so busy, so preoccupied, he would never develop that skill of playing the guitar? God knows what he is doing. He can see the big picture for your life. If you're only going to be happy if God does it your way you're not really trusting. You've got to come to the place where if it doesn't work out the way you had it planned you're still in peace. You know God is still on the throne and he will still get you to where you're supposed to be.
John 9, Jesus was traveling through a town. He noticed a man that had been blind since his birth: never been able to see. Jesus went over to the man. He was so excited. The blind man had heard that this healer was in town, this man who could perform miracles. Out of all the people in the city now Jesus is standing before him. No doubt someone has told him how Jesus touched a blind man's eyes and he could see, or how Jesus has spoken the word and a little girl was healed, or even how he commanded a dead man to come back to life. There were many different methods Jesus used to heal people.
I'm sure this blind man was expecting Jesus to do something like he had done before. It was perfectly quiet. You could hear a pin drop: great anticipation. The blind man is waiting to hear Jesus speak a word of healing: but instead, all he hears is Jesus spitting on the ground. Imagine what was going on in his mind. "I thought he was going to pray for me. I thought he was going to touch my eyes. Why is he spitting"? Jesus made mud out of the dirt and the spittle and he placed it on the man's eyes. He's already blind. Now he's really not going to be able to see. He's got mud in his eyes.
Jesus was unconventional. There was no precedent for this ever happening before in the scripture. Elijah never did it, Elisha, Moses. This was the first instance this method had ever been used. The blind man could have said, "Get this off of my eyes. This doesn't make sense. This isn't going to do any good". No, he didn't have God in a box. He stayed open. Jesus instructed him to wash it off. When he did, he could see perfectly clear for the first time.
My question today: are you open for God to use a new method to bring your dreams to pass? What if God answers your prayers differently than you were expecting? What if he doesn't use the people that you thought he would use? Are you going to do like this blind man and stay open and say, "God, I trust you. Do it your way" or are you going to have God in a box and miss your miracle?
What's interesting is Jesus did all this on the sabbath. He not only used an unconventional method but he broke one of their religious rules. The pharisees, the religious leaders, they were very upset. When they heard what had happened they had the blind man brought before them and they questioned him again and again. Then they got his parents and brought them in and said, "Hey, we want you to tell us how can your son see. We know he's been blind. We've seen him begging on the street corners. Are you telling us this man, Jesus, healed your son"? They were afraid. They didn't want to get in trouble. They said, "We don't know how he can see. He's a grown man. He's old enough. Don't ask us. Ask him".
They called the blind man back in a second time and said, "Tell us what happened. Don't you know this man, Jesus, is a sinner"? He said, "I don't understand all the doctrine, all your religious laws. I don't even know much about Jesus. All I can tell you is I was blind but now I can see". It's hard to argue with a changed life.
One reason God does it his way and not our way is so that he will get all the credit. The blind man was saying in effect, "You can argue doctrine. You can debate whether or not he is a sinner. You can try to deny it, dismiss it, discredit it, but I am living proof of a good God, a God of mercy, a God who can do the impossible". But it all started when he was willing to let God do it His way. He didn't have God in a box.
When my father went to be with the Lord back in 1999, after pastoring Lakewood for 40 years, we didn't know what was going to happen to the church. We had of course prayed that God would send the right person. In the natural that would be somebody that had experience pastoring a large church, somebody that had gone to seminary and had a proven track record but God doesn't always choose the way we choose. Man looks on the outside. God looks on the heart.
And I knew down deep I was supposed to step up and pastor the church but I thought, "I've never ministered before. I've never been to seminary. I don't have the training, the qualifications. I'm too young, too quiet, too shy". I thought of all these reasons as to why I must have heard God wrong. I had to do what I'm asking you to do. I said, "God, this doesn't make sense to my mind. This seems way far out. But God, I'm not going to put you in a box. I know your ways are better than my ways. You know what I can do and what I can't do. I may not feel qualified but when you breathed your life into me I know you equipped me, empowered me, anointed me. I may feel weak but with you, I know I am strong".
I took that step of faith. I never planned on being a minister. I never knew that this was even in me. This happened thirteen years ago and the ministry has grown in ways that we never dreamed of. In fact, some people are still scratching their heads. Thinking, "How in the world did that happen? He doesn't have the training, the qualifications, the experience". I can say like the blind man, "I don't understand it all. I can't explain it. I can only tell you I spent seventeen years behind the scenes running the cameras. Now, I'm in front of the camera speaking to the world. It's the goodness of God". And it's easy for me to give God credit. I remember where I came from. Every time I stand up to minister I'm still amazed at God's goodness.
If you're going to reach your highest potential you have to stay open. Don't get stuck in a rut. God is an out of the box God. His plan for your life will not always be logical, or reasonable, or what you had planned, but if you will stay open, it will be much bigger, much better, much more rewarding than you ever even imagined. God wants to thrust you to new levels. He wants to not only bring you out of that difficulty, he wants to catapult you out. God is going to open doors for you that no man can shut. You have not touched the surface of what God has in store.
But here's the key: it's not going to happen by traditional means. It's not going to happen by logical ways. It's going to be supernatural. That way, God will get all the credit. Nobody will be able to doubt God's hand of favor and blessing on your life. Now again, don't limit God by thinking it can only happen this way or that way. God has a thousand ways to do it. The question is when they show up are you going to be open and say, "God, this is not what I had planned. This is not what I was expecting. This is not who I thought you would use. But God, you know what's best for me. You've opened this door. I'm going to do my part and walk through it".
Now, like the blind man, you may be criticized. People may find fault. They may not understand you. You may even break one of their religious rules. But you've got to be more interested in pleasing God than you are in pleasing people. There will always be people, that try to squeeze you into their mold and tell you you're not enough of this, or not enough of that, or too much of this, not talented, not qualified. Let it go in one ear and out the other. You are not who people say you are. You are who God says you are.
But some of you today, you have God in a little bitty box. You don't see how you could ever send your children to college, or how you could get out of debt, how you could accomplish your dreams. Listen, our God is an All-Powerful God. Your job is not your source. God is your source. As long as you stay connected to him, the supply line, everything is going to be alright. He is Jehovah Jireh: the Lord your provider. Now don't get stuck in a rut. Don't be narrow-minded and miss what God wants to do.
My sister Lisa and her husband Kevin tried for several years to have a baby with no success. Lisa went through all the fertility treatments and different surgeries. Still, nothing worked out. Finally, the doctor told her there was nothing more that he could do and she wasn't going to be able to have a baby. Lisa was very discouraged, very heartbroken. She had prayed and believed but still it didn't work out. The truth is, God is a sovereign God. His plan for us is always good but his plan may be different than our own plan. He is the potter. We are the clay. You should pray, believe, stand in faith, but in the end you have to be mature enough to accept what God has destined for your life. Not defeat. Not mediocrity. I'm talking about staying open.
Lisa told how she was consumed with having this baby. That's all she thought about, all she prayed about. She wasn't going to be happy unless God did it her way. When you do that you're setting yourself up for disappointment. A much better approach is to just be honest and say, "God, this is what I want. This is what I'm believing for. But God, you know what's best for me. However it works out, God, I trust you. I'm still going to be happy". You have to put having to have it your way on the altar.
That's what Lisa did. She said, "God, I'm not going to ask you for this baby ever again. You already know what I want. Instead of begging you, telling you how to do it and when to do it, God, I just want to thank you that your perfect plan for my life will come to pass". What did she do? She let God out of her box. She got rid of her pre-conceived ideas.
About three months later, she received a phone call from a friend of ours that runs a home for teen-aged girls that are in need, Nancy Alcorn from mercy ministries. Nancy told how there was a teenager about to give birth to twins and wanted to know if Lisa and Kevin would be interested in adopting those babies. When they heard that something came alive on the inside. They said, "Absolutely yes". Today, Lisa and Kevin have three beautiful children, as happy as can be.
But here's the point: God did what he promised but he did it in an unconventional way, not the way Lisa had planned. I'd love to tell you God will always do it your way but that's not reality. But I can promise you God's way will always be the best way. You may not understand it. It may not seem fair but God knows what he is doing. I'm asking you to trust him. Quit being frustrated because it didn't work out your way.
What if you knew if God answered your prayer the way you wanted that it wouldn't be his best, or that it wouldn't last, or that it wouldn't be healthy? You would gladly let God do it His way. Some of you would enjoy life a whole lot more if like Lisa you would put that dream on the altar and say, "God, I'm tired of fighting it, tired of trying to make it happen my way, living frustrated. God, I trust you, knowing that at the right time your plan for my life will come to pass". See, it says in Psalms, "Delight yourself in the Lord and God will give you the desires of your heart". When you're trusting God to do it His way there is a rest. You're not struggling, fighting, upset. You're at peace. You know God's way is the best way so you can relax and enjoy your life while God is in the process of bringing those promises to pass.
2 Kings 5, there's the story of a man named Naaman. He was a captain in the Syrian army, a very influential man, but he had leprosy. One day a young lady that worked for him, a maid at his house said, "Naaman, if you'll travel to Israel and see the prophet Elisha, he will pray for you and I know you will be healed". He took her advice and went a great distance, all the way to Israel, showed up at Elisha's house. But when he got there Elisha didn't even get up and go to the door to meet him. Elisha sent his assistant and said, "Go tell Naaman if he'll go wash in the Jordan river seven times he'll be healed of that leprosy".
Well, Naaman was offended. He had traveled all this way. He's an important military man and Elisha didn't even have the courtesy to come to the door to speak with him. Plus, he didn't want to go wash in the Jordan river. That was a dirty river. Naaman had his own plan. He said in verse 11, "I thought Elisha would come out and wave his hand over me and cure me of my leprosy". Two words that almost kept him from his miracle, "I thought". He had a preconceived idea of how it was going to happen.
The young girl said, "Naaman, if he had asked you to do something difficult you would do it. Why don't you do this simple thing"? She talked him into it. He went and washed in the Jordan river. When he came up the seventh time his skin was perfectly clean.
But I was wondering, how many of us miss God's best because we thought it would happen another way? "I thought I would give birth to my children, not adopt them". "I thought I would get well without the treatment". "I thought I'd get that promotion. That's how I'd be blessed". No, stay open and let God do it His way.
When Victoria and I were first married we lived in this townhome. It's a very beautiful place. We bought it for a great price and felt very blessed. A couple of years later we had a desire to buy a house. We put the townhome on the market. It sold very quickly. We found this nice house that we really wanted. It was in our price range. We thought, "This is the perfect house for us". We made an offer on it and didn't hear anything back.
A couple of weeks later they responded and didn't accept it. So we made a better offer, very close, just a few thousand dollars off. Victoria and I were praying and believing. Our heart was set. We knew this was the right house for us. A month later our realtor called back and said they had sold the property to somebody else. We were so discouraged. We thought, "God, how could that happen? We prayed. We believed".
A few months later we were out looking around. We found this old, rundown, beat-up house but it was in a nice neighborhood close into the city. It was on a beautiful lot with big trees. But the house had been abandoned for a couple of years. Windows were broken out. No doors on it. It had a leak in the kitchen, foundation problems, floors as crooked as can be. It didn't make sense to our mind but in our spirit we felt an incredible peace. Victoria looked at me and said, "Joel, this is the house for us. Let's buy it, fix it up and live in it".
It didn't seem logical. Here we had just come out of a beautiful townhouse. This was just the opposite: not a step up. It looked like a step down. But God's ways are not our ways. We could have been narrow-minded and thought, "We are not even going to entertain this old piece of junk. After all, Victoria comes from a well-to-do family. They have a high-end jewelry store". When Victoria was for it I knew that was a sign from Almighty God. Plus, it saved me a lot of money.
We bought the house, fixed it up, living in it. Six months later a man knocked on our door, unannounced: a builder. He said, "I'd like to buy this property and build two houses on it". I said, "I'm sorry. Property is not for sale". He said, "Let me ask you how much did you pay for it"? I told him what we paid. He said, "How about I pay you double"? I said, "Like I said, we'd love to sell it". We sold that old rundown beat-up house and got a brand new house on the same piece of property.
Friends, God knows what he is doing. Trust him. Let him do it His way. You may not understand it at the time. It may not make sense but one day you will see what God was doing. His plan will be better than your plan. When I look back over my life, like Naaman, I have a lot of "I thoughts". I thought we would buy a new house, not an old rundown beat-up one. I thought I would be behind the scenes my whole life, not out here in front of people. I thought we would build a new sanctuary when Lakewood needed more room, not move into the former Compaq Center where the rockets used to play.
The common denominator in all of my "I thoughts" is that God's plan was much better than my plan. What God had in mind was much bigger, much more rewarding, than anything I dreamed of. I'm asking you to trust him. Our attitude should be, "God, I'm wide open. Do anything you want, anytime you want, use anyone you want. I'm not set on having it my way. God, I know your plan is the best plan". If you will stay open and let God do it His way God will open doors for you that no man can shut. His favor is going to thrust you years ahead. You will see promises fulfilled, dreams come to pass and I believe and declare you will overcome every obstacle, defeat every enemy and become everything God's created you to be, in Jesus name.