Joel Osteen — The Danger of Dry Places
I want to talk to you today about The Danger of Dry Places. It's easy to lose our passion for life. At one time we were excited, we look forward to each day, we were believing for our dreams, we love to laugh, but over time, if we're not careful and things haven't turned out the way we thought, we'll become dry. When you're dry life has lost its flavor, you smile, but there's no real joy behind it, you laugh with your friends, but it's not genuine. You act normal in front of people, but alone you're discouraged, you wonder what's wrong.
Sometimes we're drive, because we're tired. The battles have taken longer, than we thought. We can be dry because we've been hurt, somebody did us wrong. Instead of letting it go, we've held on to it. Some people are dry, because they have the wrong perspective, they think their challenges are too big, that they'll never work out, but there's a problem with being dry, it doesn't just steal our joy, doesn't just affect our attitude, it's deeper than that. The Scripture says, "When an unclean spirit leaves a person, it walks through Dry Places seeking rest". When we're dry, we've stepped into the enemy's territory, that's where he lives. Sometimes he doesn't have to come to us, we go to him.
When you feel the blahs, no passion, thoughts tell you, "Nothing good is in your future, you'll never meet the right person, you'll never get out of debt", recognize that's the enemy trying to get you into his territory. When you're positive, hopeful, full of praise, that's God's territory. The enemy can't touch you, he can't cross that line. That's why he works overtime in our thought life, his goal is to get us down and discouraged. He knows, when we're dry, we're giving him access, we're coming onto his field, that's where he has the right to control and manipulate. And maybe you have a good reason to be dry: life has thrown you some curves, you don't see anything good up ahead, that's when you have to dig down deep and say, "No I am not going to live discouraged, dragging through the day, focused on what's wrong. I know, God is on the throne. I know, he's bigger than these problems. I know, his plans for me or for good. So I'm gonna live this day in faith, expecting his favor".
You have to take control of your thought life - that's where the battle is taking place. And thoughts will tell you things like, "You're a victim, life hasn't treated you fairly, your spouse doesn't love you like he should, that company doesn't appreciate you". If you let those thoughts play long enough, they'll keep you from your destiny. Paul said in the book of Acts, "I think myself happy". You can think yourself out of a dry place. You got into discouragement by thinking about how wrong something was, thinking about who hurts you, thinking about how things aren't going to improve. You've thought yourself into defeat, now turn it around and start thinking yourself into victory, "What God started in my life he's going to finish. No good thing will he withhold, because I walk uprightly. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. What was meant for my harm, Lord, I want to thank you right now, you're turning to my advantage".
Get your mind going in the right direction, think yourself into joy, think yourself into a good mood, think yourself into a positive, faith-filled attitude. You cannot live on autopilot and just think whatever comes your way. If you do negative thoughts will dominate, you have to be proactive. Don't wait for thoughts of faith and hope to come, think them on purpose. If you'll fill your mind with the right thoughts, there won't be any room for the wrong thoughts. When you feel the blahs, you need to get into an environment that's uplifting. Don't come home from work and sit in a dark room and watch sad movies, listen to sad songs and think sad thoughts and eat sad foods and hanging around with sad people. Sad times 5 equals real sad. Open up the windows, let some light in the room, put on some inspiring music. Maybe go outside and take a walk, exercise, get your endorphins kicking in. God has put certain hormones in us, when we activate them, they give us a boost and make us more passionate, they help to take away the negativity. But it's easy to live a very sedentary lifestyle. You can't override natural laws and expect to feel good. You need to exercise, you need proper sleep, you need to eat healthy. Practical things keep us from being passionate, and having the vision in energy that we should.
When you're dry, it's important who you spend time with. You can't afford to hang around other dry people, misery loves company. Find some friends that are happy, positive, energetic. You need people around you, that brighten your day, that lift your spirits, people that are fun people, that make you laugh. Many times we gravitate to people that are like us - if we're discouraged, we find discouraged people, if we have addictions, we find others that have addictions. You need to spend time with people, that have what you want, not that struggle in the same area. If you have difficulties in your marriage, don't find someone in that same situation and sit around and talk about how bad your spouses are, how unfair life is. Talking about the problems we live in the hurts is only going to pull you down, it's not going to make things improve. The situation may not change, but you can change how you're responding.
Isaiah said, "Arise from the depression in which the circumstances have kept you. Rise to a new life". Sometimes we're waiting for God to change how we feel. "God make me happy, God cheer me up". The truth is, God is waiting on us. You walked into that dry place, the good news is you could walk out of it. I'll rise from the depression, shake off the blahs, shake off what didn't work out. This day is a gift from God. You may have some difficulties, but most likely, there's a lot more right in your life, than there is wrong. And some people would be glad to trade places with you, they would love to have your life. Come out of that dry place, that's giving the enemy access. When you arise, what will happen is, God will arise. When you come over to his side, you'll get your joy back, your passion back. You weren't made to drag through the day a discouraged, enduring life, you were made to enjoy life.
In the scripture David had seen God do amazing things, take him from a shepherd boy, no experience, no training, chosen to be the king, he defeated Goliath became an overnight hero, he outlasted King Saul, took the throne, he led Israel from one victory to another, no greater leader than David. You would think, he would live on the mountaintop, never have a down day. That's not the case, we're all tempted to get dry. Psalm 42 David was so discouraged, he didn't want to go on, he thoughts told him, that he had seen his best days, that the opposition was too big. He made the mistake of believing those lies, he ended up in a dry place.
He could've stayed there, live defeated, instead he said to himself, "Why are you cast down oh my soul? Hope in the Lord". He was saying, "I may feel discouraged, but I'm not going to let feelings rule my life, I'm not gonna let these negative thoughts keep playing". He talked to himself, "David get your hopes up". He understood, when we're dry, we've stepped into the enemy's territory, we're giving him rights, that he shouldn't have. It's not that God has abandoned us, not that God stepped off the throne, it's the fact, that we walked over to the other side.
I'm asking you to stay out of dry places, don't let your mind think of all the negative, we live everything wrong in your life, it may be true, but don't go there. The flesh loves to feel sorry for itself, think about what you didn't get, how you weren't raised right, just another day, I got a drag through it. As long as you think that way, you're going to live defeated. You have to do like David and make the decision, "I'm coming out of the dry place". It starts by changing your thinking. God's plans for you are for good, there are opportunities in your future bigger than you can imagine. That sickness is not permanent, that financial difficulty is not how your story ends, that addiction is not going to hinder you your whole life - God has the final say. And while you're waiting for him to change things, why don't you thank him that it's on the way? Why don't you be grateful for what's right in your life?
We have to guard our mind. It's easy to step over into a dry place. I'm not saying that you're dry, because you haven't had any victories, you haven't been successful. Like David you may have seen God do amazing things, protect you, promote you, bring great people across your path. You can testify of the goodness of God, but that doesn't exempt us from becoming dry. The discouragement test comes to every person, times when we're tired. We've won some victories, we've been our best, but we don't know, if we can keep standing strong. If you'll get your fire back, God is going to renew your strength. He's going to give you passion, energy, vitality like you've never seen. Your second wind is on its way. God is about to breathe on your life in a new way. The victories you've seen in the past are going to pale, in comparison to what God is about to do.
Psalm 68 says, "You sent and abundant rain O Lord, to refresh the weary land". You may be weary you fought hard, but it seemed like the discouragement just won't go away. God knows how you feel, he knows what you're up against. You may not be able to walk out of the dry place on your own, don't worry, God is about to send an abundant rain to refresh you. He's going to make things happen, that you couldn't make happen. You're going to see an abundance of joy, an abundance of strength, and abundance of health, an abundance of resources. That forces, that held you back are being broken right now. The enemies you see today, you will see no more. Now when you're tempted to be discouraged, turn it around, "Father thank you for the rain that's coming, thank you for the healing, the favor, the breakthroughs, the right people".
Get your hopes up. Start expecting the abundant rain. That's the way our God is. He could have just said, "I'm going to send rain to refresh the weary land". That would be good, we'd be grateful, but notice the heart of God, he said in effect, "I'm going to make the enemy pay for bringing the trouble. I'm going make him pay for making you dry, I'm going to send an abundant rain, I'm going to send more than enough, exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond". Get ready for overflow, get ready, God is about to exceed your expectations. You are coming out of that dry place into more than enough.
But sometimes we want to be passionate, but the feeling is gone. We don't have the same Drive and emotion, like we used to have. We think something is wrong, but psychologists have discovered, what they call the happiness curve. Research shows: most people are their happiest at twenty years old from there, it goes down till you're 50. at 50 it starts coming back up at 70, you're as happy as you were at 20. But it doesn't stop there, it continues to rise: after 70 you're the happiest and most fulfilled, than you've ever been. That's what God said, "Your latter days will be better, than your former days".
But we see people, that are going through a midlife crisis, they have no passion, they have burned out, they don't feel like going on. That's that 50-year low, it's not unusual, you're not the only one that feels that way. Don't give up on your dreams, don't go over to a dry place. Some of what you're facing is just natural rhythms of life, but the people that stay happy, the people that don't go down and get discouraged are the people that rule their thoughts, the people that stay full of hope, the people that know that God is still on the throne. Don't believe those lies that you've seen your best days. You wouldn't be alive if God didn't have something amazing in front of you.
I have a friend, he was raised in a low-income family here in Houston. His father worked as a yard man, mowing people's lawns for 31 years. He died when the young man was 13. His mother raised nine children by herself. She worked as a maid at the rice hotel downtown. She never learned how to drive, she'd get up early in the morning, make her kids breakfast, get them off to school, then she would take the bus to work. She didn't have a lot of money, but she had a lot of faith. When times got tough and didn't look like they were gonna make it, she would tell her children, "Don't worry, tomorrow will be better than today". They heard that over and over, she kept speaking faith into them. She knew God would make a way, where they didn't see any way.
Against the odds, the young man was able to attend college, he excelled in school, he went on to Harvard University and earned his law degree. He served 27 years in the Texas House of Representatives. Today our friend Sylvester Turner is the mayor of Houston. Mayor Turner's mother was in a dry place, she couldn't help it, it was the hand she had been dealt, but she didn't let the dryness get in her. If she would have lived defeated, complaining about how unfair life was, going to work with a sour attitude, he wouldn't be the mayor. When the odds are against you, you don't see how it can work out, instead of being discouraged do like she did - keep reminding yourself: tomorrow will be better than today. That's not just being positive, that's what the Scripture says, "The path of the righteous gets brighter and brighter".
You haven't seen your best days, God has good breaks already lined up in your future. If he showed you right now you couldn't fathom it. If somebody would have told mayor Turner at 13 in a single-parent home, no father, mother raising nine children working as a maid, that one day you'll go to Harvard, one day you'll lead the fourth-largest city in America, one day you'll stand before kings and presidents, he probably wouldn't have believed it. He could have thought, "Not me, that's impossible. I'm in a dry place. I'm in a limited environment, my obstacles are insurmountable". God is not limited by what you don't have, he's not limited by how you were raised, he's not limited by the opposition.
Mayor Turner kept that phrase playing over and over: Tomorrow will be better than today. That was fuel for his faith, fuel for his dreams. But sometimes we don't go to the dry place - the dry place comes to us. The key is, don't let the dryness get in you. Stay full of hope, keep thanking God that the abundant rain is on the way, keep expecting things to change. Have that attitude, "I know breakthroughs are coming, I know healing is on the way, I know promotion is coming, I know doors are going to open that I could not open". That's how you stay out of the dry place. You don't focus on how big the problem is, you focus on how big your God is.
1 Kings 19, the prophet Elijah had just seen one of the greatest victories of his life: four hundred and fifty false prophets that worship the god Baal had come against him, Elijah called down fire from heaven, and they were all killed. When the king's wife Jezebel heard what happened, she was furious, she sent word to Elijah saying, "If I don't kill you by this time tomorrow, then I'll kill myself". Elijah took off running for his life. It's funny, he wasn't afraid of four hundred and fifty men, but he is scared to death of one woman. He ran as fast and as far away as he could. He dropped his assistant off at the city, traveled another day out into the desert, sat down under a tree. He was so discouraged, so depressed, he didn't want to live. He said, "God I'm done, take me on home".
Here he had just seen the greatest miracle of his life, 24 hours later he was at his lowest moment. Just because you have great victories doesn't mean you're not going to have to fight discouragement. You may have a great testimony, but there will be other tests. Elijah was in the desert, in a dry place, so tired, he fell asleep, hoping he wouldn't wake back up. You would think, God would say, "Elijah, what's wrong with you? Of all people, why are you discouraged? You've seen my power again and again, I'm done with you". God never gives up on us. While he was sleeping, an angel came, woke him up and said, "Elisha get up and eat". There was a jar of water by his side and hot bread, baking over some calls.
God is so good, he didn't just bring him food, he cooked him a meal. Elisha ate that meal, fell back asleep. He was tired, exhausted - that's one reason he felt like giving up. You don't make good decisions, when you're worn out. The angel woke him up a second time, tell, "Elijah, eat some more, there's a long journey up ahead". The first meal was for where he had been. The second meal was for where he was going. God never just brings you out, he always gives you a provision for what's ahead. You may have had your meal for where you've been, but get ready a meal is coming for where you're going. New levels of talent, increase, favor, vision.
Elijah ran for 40 days, ended up hiding in a cave on Mount Sinai. He was still afraid, discouraged,thinking his life was over. Verse 9 says the Lord came to him in the cave and said, "Elijah, what are you doing here"? And I don't believe God was just talking about the location, he was saying, "What are you doing here in your mind? Why are you looking at this situation from the wrong perspective? Why do you think this lady is more powerful than Me"? Like Elijah you may not see how your situation could work out, in your health, your finances, a relationship you're worried, discouraged, losing sleep. God is saying, "What are you doing here? Don't you know I am still on the throne? I control the universe, I brought you out in the past and will bring you out in the future".
Elijah say, "God, I'm discouraged, because I'm the only prophet alive. I'm the only one, that hasn't bowed down to the Baal, now there's trying to kill me too". When you're discouraged, when you're in a dry place, it's easy to have an exaggerated view of your problem: "I'm the only one, that has all these bad breaks. I'm the only one that has a boss that treats me like this". God said, "Elijah, you're not the only one, I have seven thousand prophets that have not bowed down". Take the pressure off, you're not the only one facing what you're up against. People have been where you are, God brought them out, he's going to bring you out to.
God told Elijah to come out of the cave, come out of hiding, and stand on the side of the mountain. There was a huge windstorm like a tornado, so strong that rocks were flying through the air, dust so thick you couldn't see anything. That passed, then there was a great earthquake, the ground shook, rocks came tumbling down, that pass. There was a huge fire, burned everything around him. That passed, then there was the sound of a gentle whisper, a still small voice. After all those huge signs, God had his attention. Elijah leaned in to listen closely, the voice whispered, "What are you doing here"? God asked him a second time, "Why are you depressed over a problem, that's only temporary"? Elijah thought his life was over, when in fact, in just a few days he met Elisha, a young man that he mentored. Elisha did twice as many miracles as Elijah. Elijah's life wasn't over, he was about to come into double the impact.
Those thoughts that are telling you, "It's all downhill, you have too many problems, the obstacles are too big", God is going to do for you, what he did for Elijah - you're coming in to double. That's why the enemy is trying to stop you so hard. The wind storm Elijah faced, the earthquake, the fire, that was the enemy bringing his biggest challenges, but when it was all said and done Elijah was still standing strong.
We see this principle with Jesus, he was in the desert in a dry place, he was tempted three times by Satan. The final temptation was the biggest, Satan said if you'll bow down before me, I'll give you all the kingdoms of the world. That was his last attempt to try to deceive him - Jesus wouldn't give in. Immediately an angel came to strengthen Jesus.
You may feel like you're in a desert, a dry place, the storms, the winds, the challenges, they've done all they could to stop you, but you're still standing. Jezebel didn't get you, the windstorm didn't harm you, the earthquake didn't take you out, you stood strong, you passed the test. Now, like with Jesus and Elijah, the angel is coming to strengthen you. Things are about to change in your favor. Negative situations are about to turn around. What you're praying about is on the way. Now do your part, stay out of the dry places. Don't go over into the enemy's territory. In your mind quit thinking about what's not going to work out. All those challenges you faced, that was the enemy doing his best, but his best was not enough. Now you may be tired from fighting, but get ready, God is about to send an abundant rain to refresh you. I believe in declare, breakthroughs are coming, Healing is coming, promotion is coming, new levels are coming, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.