Joel Osteen - Protect Your Peace
I want to talk to you today about Protect Your Peace. We should get up each morning believing for a good day, expecting favor, knowing that God is directing our steps. At the same time we should realize: everything may not go perfect, every person may not treat us right, our plans may not stay on schedule. There may be some bumps in the road and things that we didn't see coming. If you're only going to enjoy the day, if your plans work out, then you're setting yourself up for disappointment. In our cars we have a spare tire. When I drive somewhere I'm not expecting to have a flat, I'm not expecting to hit a pothole, I'm expecting to get to my destination as planned, but even though I'm expecting things to go my way, I've made provision in case it doesn't. I've taken steps ahead of time, in case the tire goes flat.
In the same way even though you're expecting your plans to work out, even though you're expecting good breaks, you need to have your spare tire, you need to make provision in case things don't go your way. Well how do you get your spare tire? At the start of the day you need to make a decision, that no matter what comes against you, you're not going to get upset. No matter what someone says, you're not going to be offended. No matter what delays, disappointments, bad breaks, you're not going to be sour. You've already made up your mind to stay in peace, that's making sure, you have your spare tire. If someone is rude to you, your attitude is no big deal, I'm not going to sit on the side of the road and sulk, I'm gonna put my spare tire on and keep moving forward. If you hit a pothole, something unexpected happens, your loved one has an illness, your child forgot his homework, the loan didn't go through, you could be upset, worried, but you have your spare tire, you decided ahead of time to stay in peace.
And the people in your life, as good as they are, there are no perfect people, there is no perfect boss, no perfect friend, no perfect neighbour, no perfect spouse. Victoria says that I am, but I know: she's either lying or saying it by faith. Give people room to be human, quit expecting them to perform perfectly all the time. "Well, they hurt my feelings". If you have your spare tire, you forgive them and move on. Don't have unrealistic expectations. That person that loves you so much, no matter how good they are, at times they're going to disappoint you, they're going to say things that they shouldn't. Don't be easily offended. "Well, my spouse didn't tell me he loved me today. This neighbor doesn't invite me over, like she used to. My co-workers didn't congratulate me on my big presentation". You don't know what's going on in their lives, don't take it personally.
Here's a key: your happiness is not someone else's responsibility, you are responsible for your own happiness. Too often we're counting on other people to keep us cheered up, encouraged, feeling good about ourselves. That's putting too much pressure on the people in your lives. Let them off the hook. Nobody can keep you fixed, except our Heavenly Father. Don't go to people for what only God can give. Are you going through life without a spare tire, only happy if things go your way? The problem is, the roads are bumpy, there will be some potholes, unexpected challenges. Without a spare, you'll get stuck on the side of the road, bitter over a breakup, upset because a co-worker left you out, stressed over the traffic. Life is too short to live offended, upset, discouraged. This day is a gift from God. We are not always going to be here. You have to put your foot down: I am not going to let these same things keep upsetting me. I am going to stay in peace, even if the boss is unfair, even if my spouse is grumpy, even if my flight is delayed, even if the medical report isn't good, this is the day the Lord has made, I have made up my mind, I'm gonna enjoy it.
When we go around offended, upset, discouraged, really it dishonors God. He's entrusted us with life. He could've chosen anyone to be here, but before time began, in his great mercy he hand-picked you. He not only chose you, but he created you in his own image, he's planned out your days, he's crowned you with favor, now he's directing your steps. The way to honor God is to get up each day with passion, being your best, pursuing what he put in your heart. Don't get stuck in the potholes of life, shake off the offenses, shake off what somebody said, shake off self-pity, bitterness. God saw everything that happened to you, he knows what was unfair, he knows how you were treated, nothing is a surprise to him. If you'll keep moving forward, he'll not only bring you out, he'll bring you out better.
"Well, Joel I would do this, but these people at work don't treat me right. They're unfair, they get on my nerves". You can't control what other people do, but you can't control what you do. If you let them upset you, you are giving away your power, you are letting them control you. The scripture says, "God has given us the power to remain calm in times of adversity". You don't have to let the same things keep upsetting you. Quit telling yourself: I can't help it, they just know how to push my buttons. Try a new approach, decide ahead of time, that you're going to stay in peace and you'll tap in to that power to remain calm.
A man was walking down the street with his friend to buy a newspaper, they came to the corner store, where the man bought the paper every day. The clerk behind the counter was as unfriendly as can be, cold, inconsiderate acted like the men was bothering him. The men bought the paper, smiled, and said: I hope you have a great day. The clerk didn't even look up, didn't even acknowledge that he said anything. His friend said: man, what was wrong with that clerk, is he always that rude? The men said: every morning. The friend said: are you always that nice? He said: every morning. The friend looked kind of puzzled and said: why? The men said: I've made up my mind, I'm not going to let another person ruin my day. He was saying: I have my spare tire. Yes, I hit this pothole every morning, but I'm not going to get stuck here arguing, being rude, letting him ruin my morning.
There may be people you see every day, that have the gift of getting on your nerves, they feel like it's their calling in life to make you miserable. The good news is: you're in control. They can't make you unhappy unless you allow them to, they can't make you be frustrated, it's your choice. Now, don't go the next 30 years letting the same things upset you, giving away your power. Make a decision like this man, you are not going to let another person ruin your day, not the guy that cut you off in traffic, not the clerk that's rude, not the family member that's disrespectful. When someone is critical, condescending, rude, they have issues, that they're not dealing with. They've become poisoned and now that poison naturally comes out. The key is: don't let their poison get into you, don't let their bad attitude sour your day. You overcome evil with good, you don't overcome evil with more evil. If you join in, your rude back, you argue, then you've allowed their poison to contaminate you, but when you take the high road, when you rise above it, and you're kind to those that are unkind, you're respectful when people are disrespectful, you're being an eagle, God will take you to highs, that you've never imagined.
Years ago I promised a friend, that works in local news, that I would be on their morning program. I had to be at the station at 6:30 on a Monday morning. I woke up that day and I was tired, I didn't feel like going, it was cold and raining, but I made the commitment. I was told to park inside the fence, close to the main doors. I pulled in, dark outside, nobody was there, I was about to park and get out, this lady came running over, a security guard, waving both of her arms, like I had committed a major crime. She said: what are you doing? You cannot park here. This is reserved for our special guest. I thought: God I'm gonna need three spare tires for this lady, she's like a wrecking ball. I said: "Ma'am, I'm on the program this morning, I was told to park here". She said: "Did you hear what I said? You cannot park here"! I had to remind myself, "Joel, you're a pastor, your church is right across the freeway".
I smiled and said: "That's fine, when parked in the neighborhood, a couple hundred yards away, still raining, had to run to the building and did the program. She must have seen it, because afterwards she came running up and said: "Oh, pastor Osteen, if I would have known that was you, I would have let you park there. Do you have time to pray for me"? I thought, I would, if I didn't have to walk so far. I said: "Sure, I will". I wanted to pray God, deliver her from that meanness. What am I saying: don't let another person ruin your day, don't let a grouchy boss make you grouchy, to where you come home and be sour with your family. You can't keep it from happening, but you can keep it from getting on the inside. You have to guard your heart.
Jesus said: offenses will come. He didn't say they might come, if you're a good person, if you're kind enough, if you quote enough scriptures, then you won't have to deal with grouchy people, you won't have to hit any potholes. No, he said, they will come on a regular basis. You will have opportunities to get upset, live bitter, offended, arguing, trying to pay people back. The word offenses in the scripture comes from a Greek word that means bait. It's used in reference to how they would catch animals, it was actually the bait, that lured the animal into the trap. When you're tempted to be offended, somebody says something derogatory, they leave you out, recognize, the enemy is offering you the bait, he's trying to deceive you into the trap. Come on, get upset, the bitter, argue back. Many people take the bait, they go around bitter, upset, offended. Next time that happens, instead of letting those same things upset you, just say: no, thanks, I'm not taking that bait, not falling into that trap, I'm gonna enjoy this day.
But it's easy to get baited into conflict, argue with people, try to prove our point. You have to be selective which battles you fight. You're not supposed to engage in every conflict. If that battle is not between you and your God-given destiny, you should ignore it. Most of the things that come against us are simply distractions. Ask yourself: if I win this battle, how would it benefit me, what will it accomplish? That person that cut me off in traffic, if I rush up and cut them off, what did it gain me? I don't even know the person. It's a distraction. If I'm rude back to the person, that sold me the paper, yes, it makes the flesh feel good, but it doesn't put me further down the road, it's a distraction. You need to choose your battles wisely. If you make the mistake of engaging in every conflict, straightening out coworkers, proving to people who you are, you won't have time to fight the battles, that do matter.
When David was a teenager, he was out working in the shepherd's fields. His father asked him to take lunch to his brothers. They were in another city, serving in the army. When David arrived, he saw Goliath taunting the Israelites, making fun of them. He asked the men there: what is the prize for the man, that defeats this giant? They said: the reward is, that person will get one of the kings daughters in marriage, plus they won't have to pay taxes. Well, that got David's attention. He realized: that was a battle worth fighting, there were spoils, there were benefits. But, when David's older brother Eliab heard him inquiring about fighting Goliath, he tried to embarrass David. He said in front of all of the people: David, what are you even doing here? And what have you done with those few sheep, you're supposed to be taking care of? He's trying to make David to feel small, saying: David you're unimportant, you'll never do anything great.
Now, David had killed a lion and a bear with his bare hands, I have no doubt, he could have taken care of Eliab. But the scripture says, David turned and walked away. One reason David did great things is he knew which battles to fight. He could have gotten into strife, arguing, trying to prove the Eliab that he was important, but if he would have been engaged in that conflict, if he would have taken the bait, he would have gotten distracted, wasted time, and who knows, maybe he would have never faced Goliath. Are you fighting battles, that don't matter, that are keeping you from battles that do matter? You have to learn to walk away from things, walk away from petty arguments, walk away from disrespect, walk away from jealous people.
Proverbs says: "Avoiding a fight is a Mark of honor". Not winning a fight, but walking away from a fight. That's not being weak, that takes a strong person, that's a Mark of honor. In your marriage you need to do what you can to stay in unity. It's easy to argue over every little thing, live bitter, offended. The problem is: there will be some big giants, that you and your spouse have to face. On the way to your destiny, there will be Goliath, that's how we go to new levels. But, if you're distracted arguing over little things, you won't be able to defeat those big giants. You have to pass the test abiding your tongue, walking away when you feel like telling somebody off, overlooking in a fence. The scripture says: "One can chase a thousand, two can put ten thousand to fly". When you're in agreement with your spouse, you are ten times more powerful.
When Eliab insulted David, David was able to bite his tongue. Wonder why? David prayed in Psalm 141: Lord, take control of what I say, help me to keep my lips sealed". He was saying: God, help me to not say things I shouldn't, help me to walk away from rude people, help me to stay on the high road. Yes, it's good to pray for a favor, it's good to pray for wisdom, for protection, but I wonder, how much further we would go, if we would do like David and start praying: God, help me to shout my mouth? That's a powerful prayer! God, help me to not say hurtful things, help me to not be critical, help me to not argue. When God can trust you to walk away from the Eliabs, the people that are disrespectful, people that try to bait you into conflict, then he can trust you with the Goliath, you will come into destiny moments, where you will defeat giants, that catapult you ahead.
As I've become more known, I've had more critics. And some of them were people, that had large followings. When you hear negative things, especially that are not true or where it's taken out of context, it's tempting to respond. But, by the grace of God, I've always been real good of letting it go, it's never bothered me in the least bit. I've learned: when I stay on the high road, not trying to prove to people who I am, not live defensively, that God will get me to where I'm supposed to be. But some of the people, that were so against me, today they don't have their platforms, they don't have their followings, things have happened where it didn't last. And I'm not happy about it, my point is: God will take care of the Eliabs, God will deal with the people, that are trying to discredit you. It's not your job to straighten them out. Walk away from them and let God fight those battles.
David said: God prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies. When you have an enemy, that means, God has a table for you. When someone's coming against you, when you have an Eliab, somebody at work trying to discredit you, recognize, there's a table there. You can go argue with them, be rude back to those that are rude to you, or you can sit at the table that God prepared. When you're saying: God, I'm trusting you to fight this battle, it's not between me and my destiny, so I'm not gonna worry about these people at work, that are trying to make me look bad, I'm gonna keep honoring you, being my best and I know, while I'm seated at the table you prepared, while I'm in peace you will take care of what's coming against me.
The apostle Paul did this. He had all kinds of opposition: religious leaders didn't accept him, the government thought he had too much influence, people lied about him, he was put in prison. He had plenty of opportunities to live bitter, offended. One place we see his attitude, he said: "Alexander the coppersmith has done me great wrong, but God will repay him". He was saying: that battle is not between me and my destiny, I'm not going to take the bait, I'm not going to get distracted, I'm gonna sit at the table and let God fight my battles. Are you fighting, where you should be sitting, trying to straighten somebody out, prove to them who you are? That's not your battle, that battle is the Lord's. You don't have to pay people back, you don't have to get even, God is your vindicator, he will make up for the wrongs, that were done for to you. If you will stay in faith, stay in peace on that high road, God will vindicate you better, than you can vindicate yourself.
1 Samuel 10, the prophet Samuel chose Saul as the next king of Israel. Most people were happy and congratulated Saul, but when Saul returned to his hometown, some of the people that knew him the most weren't happy with Samuels decision. They begin to laugh and make fun: Saul will never be our king, he doesn't have what it takes. The truth is, they were jealous of Saul, they were so insecure, so small-minded, they thought they had to push Saul down, so they wouldn't look bad. Don't ever fight battles with small-minded people, don't waste your time with people that are jealous, people that don't value who you are, people that don't respect the anointing, the favor, the talent on your life. They are not between you and your destiny. If you engage in those conflicts, it will keep you from becoming who you were created to be.
Verse 27 says, "They despise Saul and refuse to bring him gifts, but Saul ignored them". If you're going to fulfill your purpose, you have to get good at ignoring things, ignore negative comments, ignore disrespect, ignore the naysayers. They don't control your destiny, they are distractions, to try to keep you from God's best. Instead of being upset over who's not for you and frustrated over who's trying to make you look bad, do like Saul, ignore it. Jealous people can't keep you from your destiny, small-minded people cannot stop your purpose.
When Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem, there were two men at the bottom of the mountain: Sanballat and tobiah, that didn't like Nehemiah. They were constantly criticizing him, spreading rumors, trying to ruin his reputation. All day they would shout insults, making fun, trying to bait Nehemiah into coming down. When Nehemiah could have come off the mountain and defeated them, he could have shut them up, but he knew, as long as he was fighting with them, he wouldn't be making progress on the wall. He knew, they were not between him in his destiny. He didn't get upset, he didn't try to straighten them out, he simply ignored them. He went on to finish the wall in record time.
When God puts a dream in your heart, there will always be Sanballats and tobias's, people that are critical, jealous, disrespectful, people that try to get you riled up. Don't take the bait, that is not a battle you have to fight, they are distraction to try to get you off course, so you miss your purpose. Do like Nehemiah: learn to ignore the Sanballats and tobias's. Your assignment is too important to be distracted by jealous, small-minded people.
In the scripture it tells us to put on the whole armor of God. Part of that armor is the shoes of peace. It's interesting, that God chose our feet for peace. It implies: everywhere we go, we're going to have to choose to stay in peace, because you can have your helmet of salvation on, your shield of faith, your belt of truth, but if you don't put your shoes of peace on, if you don't make this decision, that you're not going to get upset, you're not going to live offended, you're not going to get baited into conflict, then even though you have all the other armor on, without peace it's not effective. Every morning you need to make sure you put on your shoes of peace. Too many people go through the day barefooted, offended, discouraged, upset, but when you make this decision at the start of the day, that nothing is going to upset you, really, you're putting your shoes on, you're saying: "God, I trust you. I know, you're directed my steps. And even if things don't go perfectly today, I believe, all things are going to work out for my good".
When you're in peace, you're in a position of power. When you're upset, discouraged, offended, just the opposite, you won't have the strength you need. Next time you're tempted to be offended, recognize what's happening, don't take that vain. When someone says something derogatory, instead of trying to pay them back, ignore them, take a seat at the table God prepared. When you walk away from the Eliabs, the battles that don't matter, you will come into your Goliath, opportunities that will thrust you ahead. I'm asking you to protect your peace. If you'll do this, I believe and declare, you're not only going to enjoy your life more, but God is going to take care of what's coming against you, he's going to vindicate you, promote you and take you to new levels of your destiny, in Jesus name.