Joel Osteen — By This I Know
I want to talk to you today about by this I know. We've all come through challenges and difficulties that should have stopped us. The problem seemed too big, the obstacle looked insurmountable, somehow we've made it through. We've seen doors open that shouldn't have opened, promotion that we didn't deserve, people for no reason went out of their way to be good to us. That wasn't luck, it wasn't just a good break. That was the hand of God pushing back forces of darkness, protecting us, healing us, promoting us.
David said in Psalm 41, "By this I know the Lord is on my side. He has not let my enemies triumph over me". When David looked at where he was and thought about what it took to get there, the rejection, being left out by his father, king Saul trying to kill him, people slandering him, he recognized the whole time it was God behind the scenes fighting his battles, not letting those enemies defeat him. It gave him a confidence, a boldness. He knew the Lord was on his side.
All of us have some of these "By this I know". That sickness could have been the end but by the grace God, you're still here healthy and whole. You can look back and say like David, "By this I know, the Lord is on my side. He didn't let that sickness defeat me". Or the divorce, the breakup, could have left you sour, bitter, lonely, but God not only restored you, he brought somebody new, somebody better than you've imagined. Now you're happy, whole, loving life. You can say, "By this I know, the Lord is on my side. He turned my mourning into dancing".
A young lady showed me pictures of a car she was driving. Somebody pulled in front of her on the freeway. She lost control of her car, it flipped over and rolled three times. There was nothing left of the car. Didn't look like any way someone could survive. She smiled and said, "Joel, I came out without one scratch, without one bruise". The police couldn't believe it. When they saw the car, they were expecting a fatality. They had to use the jaws of life to get her out. An officer said, "You are one very lucky young lady". That wasn't luck, that was the goodness of God. Those were angels protecting her, keeping her from dashing her foot against a stone. Now, she can look back and say, "By this I know, the Lord is on my side".
The things that should have stopped you, the people that came against you, the accidents, the rejection, the tough childhood, the addiction that was passed down. Other people were defeated, other people got knocked down, but look at you, you're still standing. You're still blessed. You're still victorious. You're still happy. Just the fact that you're here, that's a sign the Lord is on your side. When you look back and see how you outlasted the opposition, how you raised that child on your own, how you put yourself through college, how you broke the addiction, rose out of the dysfunction, how you came through the cancer treatment, how you encouraged yourself when nobody else was around, other people would have given up, others would have complained, been discouraged, missed their destiny, but not you, you're still going strong.
When you know the Lord is on your side, it gives you a boldness, a confidence. You don't fall apart when you face opposition. Your attitude is, "You are messing with the wrong person. I may look ordinary, but I have a secret the Most High God, the Creator of the universe is on my side". How do you know? He didn't let your enemies triumph over you. You didn't make it through all those challenges on your own. That was God fighting your battles, breathing in your direction. You didn't break that addiction by yourself. You may have done your part, but it was God keeping it from stopping your purpose. You didn't meet that person that you fell in love with by accident. It wasn't a coincidence that they came across your path. She could have been five minutes later and you'd never seen her. He could have changed his mind, done something different that day. God ordered your steps and now you're blessed with someone to love.
Every challenge God has brought you through, those victories were designed as fuel for your faith. So, when you face new challenges, you can look back and say, "God, you did it for me back then, I know you'll do it for me now". You have a history with God. You've seen him make a way where you didn't see a way. You've seen him have you at the right place at the right time. When you made mistakes, you've seen him show you mercy, turn it around when you didn't deserve it. Big and small, we've all seen the hand of God. When you're tempted to get discouraged and think the problem is too big, it'll never change, you'll never get well, never meet the right person, you need to go back and get some fuel.
Remember what God has done. Think about the times he's shown out in your life. When you go back over your history and see how God has never left you, how he kept you from the accident, brought the right person, led you to that house where things fell into place, then when thoughts whispered, "It's not going to work out. This is as good as it gets". Just smile and say, "I'm sorry, you're too late. I have a history with God. I've already seen his goodness. I've already seen him turn my child around, already seen him heal my loved one. I've seen him promote me, take me where I couldn't go. I've seen him bring me through loss and give me beauty for ashes". When you look back at your history, it will give you fuel for your destiny.
Genesis 24, Abraham was old and close to death. He told his assistant to travel back to his hometown to find his son Isaac a wife. They were living in Canaan. Abraham wanted Isaac to marry someone from his original home. This assistant felt all the pressure. He thought, "How am I going to know if it's the right girl"? He said to Abraham, "I'll go, but what if I can't find a young lady that will come back with me"? Abraham said in verse 39, "You will find the right one, for the Lord in whose presence I have walked will send his angel with you and make your mission successful". Abraham was saying, "Don't worry, I have a history with God. I've seen his faithfulness down through the years. He gave my wife and I a baby when we were way too old. He provided a ram in the bush when I needed a sacrifice. He showed me mercy when I made a mistake and had a baby out of wedlock".
He had seen God's goodness again and again. It gave him a confidence. He said it with boldness, "It will happen. I have walked with God". When you look back over your life, you will see these times, like with Abraham, where God brought a promise to pass that seemed impossible. He made a way when you didn't see that way. He brought your child out of trouble, now they're doing great things. When you think about the faithfulness of God, it'll give you a confidence, you'll say, "It will happen. My children will be mighty in the land. I will live and not die. I will lend and not borrow. I will fulfill my destiny".
How can you be so sure? You have a history with God. You didn't get here by yourself. God was directing your steps. Behind the scenes, you couldn't see it, but God was pushing back opposition. He was favoring you. He was dealing with those enemies. That's why they couldn't defeat you. That's why you had a baby when the experts said you couldn't have one. That's why that company called and offered you the position. You didn't go after it, it came after you. That wasn't good luck, that was a good God. Instead of wondering if it's going to work out, living stressed over your finances, worried about your children, have a new attitude, "The Lord in whose presence I have walked, the Lord who has defeated my enemies, the Lord who has restored and vindicated me, the Lord who has promoted and prospered me, he will make my mission successful".
God has not brought you this far to leave you. He's defeated enemies for you in the past, the good news is he's still on the throne. He's going to do it again in the future. Think about all the circumstances that could have brought you down. Look at all the people that could have held you back. They told you what you couldn't become, tried to discourage you, push you down, but you just kept on keeping on. Now they're nowhere to be found. You're still going strong. By this you can know the Lord is on your side. You could have been discouraged. You could have believed what they said, but God didn't let their negative report take root. He didn't let their prophesy come to pass. Instead, he spoke new words into your spirit. No weapon formed against you will prosper. He said when the enemy comes against you one way, he will defeat them and cause them to flee seven different ways.
When we were trying to acquire this place, the former Compaq Center, the company we were up against was the largest taxpayer in Texas, a huge real estate company. It was David verse Goliath. In the natural, we didn't have a chance but I've learned — you and God are a majority. He can make things happen that you couldn't make happen. We needed ten votes from the city council members, but we only had nine. The night before the final vote, a young Jewish council member that had been against us two years suddenly changed his mind and voted for us and we got the building.
We couldn't believe it. We were so thrilled. I asked him afterwards what happened. He explained how he received a phone call out of the blue from an older Jewish woman that he hadn't spoken to in over 20 years but he always had great respect for her. She told him in no uncertain terms he was to vote for Lakewood having the Compaq Center. That lady that I have never met is why he changed his mind. I couldn't have made that happen. Now, every time I see this place, I can say, "By this I know the Lord is on my side. He didn't let those enemies defeat us". This building is a testimony of God's goodness. It's a reminder that he's fighting our battles, that he's bigger than what we're facing.
Look back over your life, remember what God has done. That's fuel for your faith. You have a history with God. Too often we forget the good things. We remember the hurts, the disappointments, the mistakes, but look at where you are now. If it had not been for the goodness of God, you wouldn't be here. Some people that have gone through what you've been through, they didn't make it. They gave up, got discouraged, living defeated. Not you, God shined his favor on you. God has been keeping enemies from defeating you your whole life. He was guarding and protecting you even when you didn't realize it. There are enemies that you've never seen because God kept him out of your path.
When my father was a toddler, he fell into a fire. He could have easily been killed, another few seconds and he would have lost his life. Someone just so happened to be right there to pull him out. The enemy has been trying to take you out since you were a baby. He knows you're a person of destiny. He knows you have seeds of greatness. He knows you've been crowned with favor, so he's been working overtime to try to silence your voice, stop your gifts, limit your potential, keep you from reaching your destiny, but those forces have not been able to stop you. It's because you have a protector, you have a defender that's watching over you. He never sleeps. He's pushing back darkness. He's keeping those forces from taking your life. David said, "A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you". God has his angels standing guard over you. The fact that you're here alive and healthy, by this you can know the Lord is on your side.
When I see my mother diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1981, 37 years later, still healthy and strong. By this I know the Lord is on my side. He didn't let that sickness take her life. When I stepped up to pastor the church when my father went to be with the Lord, I didn't think I could do this. I didn't have the training, the experience, but God brought gifts out of me that I didn't know I had. He's promoted me, taken me further than I've imagined, helped me to outlast the opposition. By this I know the Lord is on my side. He didn't let those enemies defeat me. When I see Victoria, look at how beautiful she is, by this I know the Lord is on my side. On the other hand when I look at my brother Paul, by this I know the Lord is on my side. The scripture says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good".
I don't know about you, but I've tasted God's goodness. I've seen his favor, his blessings, his mercy, his vindication, his abundance. In the battle for the Compaq Center, there were a few people that didn't want us to have the building. One of the main business leaders, very respected influential man was at a luncheon with a friend of mine. He said to everyone at the table, "It will be a cold day in hell before Lakewood gets the Compaq Center". Said it very sarcastically, everyone laughed. Of course, he didn't know my friend was there and when he told me what the man said, it didn't discourage me, it was just the opposite. It made me more determined. I prayed harder, I stood stronger.
You can't have a big testimony without having a big test, and sometimes God will send you a big big enemy. Stay in faith, they cannot stop your destiny. They don't know it, but God is going to use them for fuel. I can imagine now when he drives by the building or he flips through the channel and sees my smiling face, he must think, it's a cold day in hell because here we are. The scripture says, "Don't gloat over your enemies," but it's hard. He went from being opposition to being fuel. Now when I face other giants, I think about him. He couldn't stop us. He thought we were a lightweight, what he couldn't see was behind the scenes we had a heavyweight, the Most High God fighting our battles.
When I'm tempted to get discouraged, I go back over my history. I think about how God brought my father out of poverty, had no money, no education, no future to speak of but at 17 years of age, he gave his life to Christ, the first one in his family. That wasn't a lucky break. That was God choosing my father before he could choose him. If it had not been for the goodness of God in my father's life, I wouldn't be standing here. I think about how God protected me on the freeway when I lost control of my car. I was in my early 20s, it was raining really hard. I hit the center guardrail, spun back around five lanes of traffic. At one point, I was going the wrong direction. I looked up, an 18-wheeler was coming right at me. I felt like I could reach out and touch his front grill he was so close. All I had time to say was, "Jesus".
The scripture says, "Call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved". You don't have to pray long. When you say, "Jesus," heaven and earth comes to attention. The next thing I knew, I was on the shoulder on the side of the freeway stopped. The 18-wheeler pulled over. The driver got out, came to my window. He said, "Boy, you must be living right. Right when I was about to hit you, I braced myself but a huge gust of wind blew me into the other lane and somehow I missed you". He said, "Somehow," but I know it was someone. He thought it was a good break, I know it was the hand of God. By this I know the Lord is on my side. He didn't let the accident take my life.
What has God done for you? You have some of these, "By this I know". Those victories were not just to protect you, to heal you, to promote you, they're fuel so when you face new challenges, obstacles that look too big, if you'll go back and remember what God has done, that's what gives you the faith, the confidence, the knowing that he's in control, that he has you in the palm of his hand, that what's trying to stop you doesn't have a chance. The enemy may do his best, his best will never be enough. God has a hedge of protection around you. His forces are greater than the forces that are trying to stop you. Don't live worried, afraid, go back over your history. When you start thanking God for what he's done, you'll feel faith rise in your heart, you'll know he did it for you back then, he'll do it for you today.
This is where the Israelites missed it. God supernaturally brought them out of slavery. He sent plagues on their enemies. When Pharaoh changed his mind, came chasing them, the Israelites were at a dead end at the Red Sea, had nowhere to go. God simply parted the Red Sea. They went through on dry ground. Out in the desert, God brought them water out of a rock. He gave them manna, bread to eat each morning, was one miracle after another. But when they arrived at the Promised Land and saw how big the people were, instead of using what God had done as fuel, instead of saying, "By this we know the Lord is on our side," Psalm 78 says they forgot the amazing miracles God had done. They got discouraged, started complaining, saying, "Moses, they're too big. Let's just go back to being slaves". Here they had a great history with God. He had done amazing things. Their problem was they didn't remember them. Instead of going into the Promised Land, they wandered in the desert for 40 years.
Are you living worried, thinking a problem is too big? Perhaps you're doing like they did, you've forgotten what God has done. You're out of fuel. Your faith needs to be reenergized. One way you do that is by going back over your "By this I knows," the times God made a way, the times he protected you, the times he opened that door. When you start dwelling on the goodness of God in your own life, not what he did for your neighbor. It's great that God parted the Red Sea for the Israelites, but how about the Red Seas God's parted for you, the times he made something happened that seems impossible? That's your fuel, your personal history. If you'll start thanking God for those things, you'll get that spring back in your step. You'll live with this confidence, "By this I know the Lord is on my side".
I talked to a man that had struggled with addictions for 27 years. He was an executive, had a great job, a happy family. Drugs and alcohol ruined his life. He lost his marriage, lost his job. He was so depressed, he didn't want to live. At the lowest point, he turned the television on and I was talking about how God is bigger than addictions, how one touch of his favor can turn situations around. All of a sudden, he felt the warmness starting at his head, flowing down to his feet. He said for the first time in years, he felt hopeful. Got down on his knees and said, "God, can't do that this on my own. Help me to change".
That moment was a turning point. Never went back to the drugs, never touched the alcohol again. That was nine years ago. He's been sober ever since. He and his wife had divorced. They remarried. He's back with his family. Now, he can say like David, "By this I know the Lord is on my side," not I think, I hope, I'm praying, I'm believing. God is going to do some things in your future where you know he's on your side. There will be no doubt.
Maybe like him, you couldn't break the addiction, suddenly you're free. You were told you couldn't have children, now you have a healthy baby. You weren't even looking, somebody amazing came into your life. The opposition was bigger and stronger, but the Compaq Center came to you, the contract came to you, the business came to you. You couldn't have made it happen, you were at your limits, but the Red Sea parted. Get ready, you're about to know the Lord is on your side. What he's done in the past is going to pale in comparison to what he's about to do.
Now, don't be surprised when you face giants bigger than you've ever faced, bigger opposition. That's a sign you're headed to a new level. You'll be tempted to worry, feel overwhelmed. You need to go back and get your fuel. Remember what God has done. Thank him for the Red Seas he's parted. Thank him for the giants you've defeated. Thank him for the times he's made a way. You didn't get to where you are on your own. There are things that should have stopped you. You can say like David, "By this I know the Lord is on my side. The cancer didn't defeat me. The divorce didn't stop my destiny. The accident didn't take my life". You have a history with God. He's done it in the past, he's going to do it in the future. He was fighting your battles back then, can I encourage you, he's fighting your battles right now? I believe and declare you're about to take new ground, giants much bigger are about to come troubling down. God is going to show out in your life in a new way. By this, you will know the Lord is on your side. In Jesus's name.