Joel Osteen - Coming Out Better
I want to talk to you today about Coming Out Better. We all go through disappointments and things we don't understand. Sometimes life is not fair. It's one thing to come through a difficulty, beat up, bedraggled, where you look worn and tired, we're grateful that we made it, but when God restores, you're not going to look like what you've been through, nobody is going to be able to tell, that you went through the sickness, through the divorce, through the unfair childhood. He's going to restore you back to your original condition, who you were created to be before the heartache, before the bad break. Some people made it out, but they aged 10 years. The challenge took so much out of them, they look rundown, tired, that's not you. God is not going to just bring you through, he's going to bring you out better: refreshed, renewed, re-energized, where nobody will know what you went through.
I met a young lady recently, she was visiting with her husband and children, she's a sharp girl in her mid-20s, she handed me a copy of her book it's called "Beauty for ashes". I asked what it was about? And she said, it was her life story. She told how as a little girl her parents abandoned her, they were on drugs and left her on the streets. She was passed from foster home to foster home and went through abuse, neglect and all kinds of unfair things. When I saw her, what she was saying didn't match up to who I was seeing. I should have seen someone battle-scarred, rundown, insecure, but I saw someone beautiful, strong, confident, well-spoken. I never dreamed she had gone through that. I thought she had come from a loving family, healthy environment, just the opposite. All the odds were against her, but she had her college degree, two beautiful children, successful career. That's how God restores, he brings you through with no sign of the difficulty, no sign of the betrayal, no sign of the loss.
You maybe in a challenging time, it feels like it's taken something out of you, that can't be replaced: you've lost that spring in your step. Get ready, God is about to breathe new life into your spirit, he is going to renew your strength and renew your youth like the eagles. What that challenge took out of you, God is about to put back in: health, vitality, freshness, vision, passion. He's going to bring new opportunities, the right people, favor that catapult you ahead. He is not going to just bring you through, he's going to make up for what was unfair. The scripture says, "Because you've got a double dose of trouble, your inheritance will be double and your joy will go on forever". When you come into double, nobody's going to know that business partner cheated you, nobody will know you went to an unfair childhood, nobody will know you fought that battle with that sickness. You're going to be so blessed, so strong, so favored, people won't be able to tell what you've been through.
In the book of Daniel three Hebrew teenagers wouldn't bow down to the king's golden idol. He was so furious he had them thrown into a fiery furnace, they should have instantly been killed. But the scripture says, "Not a hair on their head was singed, their clothing was not scorched, they didn't even smell like smoke". They came out with no sign they had been in the fire. We would rejoice if they had just made it out alive, beat up, bedraggled, hair burned - it would be a great miracle, if they just came out. But notice how God works: when he restores, there's no sign of the trouble, no sign of the injustice, no sign of the bad brake. He went as far as to not even have them smell like smoke. It's one thing to not see any sign, to not look like what you've been through, but God is so on amazing: when he restores you're not even going to smell like what you've been through.
Isaiah said, "When you go through the fire, you will not be burned, the flames will not harm you". It doesn't say, if you go through the fire, it says when. We all have these difficulties. In the fire you have to remind yourself: these flames are not going to harm me, this challenge is not going to keep me from my dreams, this sickness is not going to stop my purpose. When people met these three teenagers years later, some of them never knew they were thrown into the fire, they never knew they faced this huge ordeal, there were no scars, no bruises, no permanent damage - they just saw three men healthy and whole. You may be in the fire now, but like with them it is not going to set you back permanently. When you come out you're not going to be scarred for life, there's not going to be any sign of the fire, any sign of the addiction, any sign of the sickness - you're going to come out without the smell of smoke.
My mother went through terminal cancer in 1981, she was very sick she weighed 89 pounds. When I flew home from college to see her, I was shocked: her skin was as yellow as can be, she looked like she was close to death. There was no treatment that the doctors could give her. For several years she fought the good fight of faith. There were struggles, wasn't easy, plenty of lonely nights, thoughts told her that she wasn't going to make it, how she should be buried in a certain dress. She was in the fire, flames all around her, but like with these teenagers God didn't let the fire burn her. When you see my mom now: healthy, strong, beautiful, she doesn't look like what she's been through, she doesn't look like she spent years fighting the good fight of faith, she didn't look like she had to raise my brother Paul.
You may be in the fire now, dealing with the sickness, financial difficulty, a child that's off course. You need to get this down in your spirit: that fire is not going to burn you. What's come against you is not permanent. Don't believe those thoughts that it's all downhill from here, this will always taint your future, always hinder your dreams. Now what was meant for your harm God is turning to your advantage. When people see you, they are not going to see what you've been through, not going to see the mistakes you've made, not going to see the disappointments. Like my mother, you're gonna be so strong, so healthy, so blessed, they're going to see who you are and not what you've been through.
The Israelites were in slavery for 430 years, mistreated and taken advantage of. It looked like that was their destiny, but God supernaturally brought them out. As they were leaving, the people that held them captive all those years, gave them their gold, their silver, their clothing. I can imagine the Israelites walking out with new clothes on, new shoes, wearing Jewelry. They didn't leave there looking like slaves, they were loaded down with gifts. They traveled the desert for many years, the scripture says, there was not one sick or feeble one among them: two million people. Their clothes and shoes didn't wear out for 40 years. There were no grocery stores out there, no malls, no hospitals. It was hot and dry they lived on the move, yet, when people saw them, nobody knew they were former slaves, nobody knew they had been mistreated, why? When God restores, there's no sign of what you've been through.
Now you may have been a slave to some things: slave to an addiction, slave to a depression, a slave to poverty, you think that's the way you're always going to be, you're gonna look like those that have gone before you, spent in your family line, no your days of captivity have come to an end, freedom is here. God is not only going to deliver you, he's not only going to break bondages, he's going to restore back to you, to where no one will ever know you were a slave, they will never know you were addicted, never know you were depressed or never know you came out of a dysfunctional environment.
I loved the story of our friend Tyler Perry. Tyler grew up very poor, mistreated by his father, it's a little boy he had to hide under the front porch of his house to escape the drama and dysfunction in his home. He was in the fire, it looked like that fire would stop his destiny, a little boy, he had no control. But the scripture says, God is a father to the fatherless. When you're in the fire, you can be assured you're not there by yourself, God shows up in fiery places, he comes when it's unfair, when you're outnumbered, when it's beyond your control. Tyler would go under the house as a little boy and make up stories, had a very vivid imagination. Those stories would take him to another place, where he could get a break from the pain and turmoil that he was dealing with. It was those stories and that imagination, that opened the door to the films and the plays.
Tyler Perry has become one of the most successful entertainers and film makers of our day. When you see Tyler now: blessed, successful, loving God, making people laugh, always smiling, he doesn't look like what he's been through, you'd never dream he didn't have a great childhood. What happened? God brought him out without the smell of smoke. Nothing that's coming against you is going to stop your destiny. Nothing that you've been through is going to keep you your purpose. And don't believe those lies that you've been through too much, the sickness is too big, the past is too painful - all that is setting you up for God to show out in your life. Psalm 71 says, "God will restore you to greater honor". The greater the difficulty - the greater the honor. You are not going to look like what you've been through, you're going to look like who you are: blessed, prosperous, strong, healthy, victorious.
As a teenager God gave Joseph a dream that one day he would be in leadership. He started off great: he was his father's favorite child. Then the bottom fell out: his brothers were jealous and threw him into a pit, eventually sold him as a slave. He worked for an army captain, cleaning his house and doing repairs. Someone lied about him and he was put in prison. He spent years in that lonely cell, feeling forgotten. It looked like it was permanent, but God will not let the actions of other people keep you from your purpose. If that was the case, they would control your destiny and not God. When unfair things happen, you may not like it, but it's a part of God's plan to get you to where you're supposed to be. God wouldn't have allowed it, if he didn't have a purpose.
One day Joseph interpreted the Pharaohs dream. Pharaoh was so impressed, he made Joseph the prime minister of Egypt. Joseph became one of the most powerful people of that day, he was in charge of the whole country. What's interesting is Joseph wasn't even from Egypt, he didn't have any formal training, he wasn't related to the Pharaoh, but God knows how to restore you to greater honor, he knows how to make up for what you've been through. I can imagine, when people came to the palace and saw Joseph, they thought he was born into Royalty, they thought he was raised in the palace, related to the Pharaoh, educated in the finest schools.
They didn't know, a few years earlier he was in a pit, betrayed, they didn't know he was a former slave, cleaning houses. They didn't know he had spent years in prison, there was no sign of the injustice, no sign of the bad brakes, no sign of the lonely nights. All they saw is this man has influence, favor, prestige, he's run in our country. That's the way God restores: people are not going to be able to see what you've been through. You may be in a situation like Joseph, where it's unfair, you're doing the right thing but the wrong thing is happening. Don't worry your time is coming, God is a God of justice: he sees the wrongs, he sees what's unfair, who betrayed you, who left you out. You're going to be restored to greater honor.
Because of what tried to stop you, God is going to take you further, than if that had not happened. When you get a double dose of trouble, you're going to get a double dose of favor. Now, quit telling yourself that you're stuck, you'll never get past the divorce, the financial difficulties, the sickness - that is not how your story ends, God has the final say, he is saying: I'm going to restore the years that were stolen, I'm going to pay you back for what was unfair. You are not going to come out beat up, draggled, hair burn - you're going to come out without the smell of smoke. Nobody is going to know what you've been through. Like Joseph, all they're going to see is: you're promoted, honored, doing great things.
I know this couple, they were living a very blessed life, then the perfect storm hit: their business went down, the lady had health issues, one of their in-laws suddenly died. Because of the unexpected bills, they ended up losing their house. They were so discouraged. I told them, what I'm telling you: we all get thrown into the fire, but those flames are not going to harm you. God is in control. When you stay in faith, he'll bring you out better. But, when we hear this, sometimes our mind says: there's no way. "Joel, how could I move past this difficulty? How could I get well"? Or Joseph: how could I get out of prison, I'm a slave, a foreigner, I have no rights? You don't have to figure it out, all you have to do is believe.
God works where there's an attitude of faith. When you're in the fire, instead of complaining, talking about how it's not going to work out, turn it around: "Father, thank you, that you're making a way where I don't see a way. Thank you, that you're gonna bring me out without the smell of smoke". That's not just being positive, that's releasing your faith. I saw this couple several years later: the ladies showed me a picture of a new house they just moved into. She told how in their old house the children had to share a bedroom, but in this new house each child had their own bedroom. How it was much closer to their work and how their business had taken off. She had big tears running down her cheeks, thanking God for his goodness.
And as I looked at the picture of that new house and looked at this lady healthy and whole, looked at her husband beaming with joy, I thought to myself: you don't look like what you've been through, God brought you out without the smell of smoke. That's what God wants to do for you: restore you to greater honor. Now get a vision for it, don't go through life with the chip on your shoulder, bitter over who did you wrong, discouraged over what didn't work out. Give God something to work with: "Father, thank you, that what was meant for my harm, you are turning to my advantage. Thank you, that I'm not going to look like what I've been through, but I'm going to look like who you created me to be: blessed, prosperous, strong, healthy and whole".
Mark chapter 5, there was a man living among the tombs, that was possessed with evil spirits. He was deranged, he wouldn't wear clothes, he couldn't be restrained. They tried to put his arms in chains, his feet in shackles - every time he would break the chains. No one had the power to control him. All through the day and the night he would wander through the tombs screaming and cutting himself. This had gone on for years, everyone knew to stay away from this crazy man. One day Jesus got in a boat and crossed the lake and went to where the man lived. The men fell at Jesus feet, Jesus prayed for him, cast those spirits out. Instantly the man was healed, his mind went back to normal. Some people saw, went to the town and told everyone, they came running out to see the man. He cleaned himself up, cut his hair, put on clothes. The scripture says, "They saw the man sitting, clothed, in his right mind, perfectly sane".
They were amazed. They thought, wait a minute, we've seen this guy for years, we know he's deranged, how could this happen? Was so far out they could hardly believe it. What's interesting is, Jesus made a special trip to cross the lake just to get to that man. Once he healed him, Jesus got in the boat and went back across. And sometimes forces of darkness come against us, like with this man, you can't get free by yourself. The good news is - our God still crosses lakes. When you can't get to him, he'll come to you. You may be in a situation that looks too far-gone, an addiction seems too strong, sickness too big, family member too far off course - nothing is too much for our God. His power is greater than any power, that's trying to stop you. He's crossing the lake right now. You are not going to live addicted, depressed, sick, fearful - chains are being loose, strongholds are being broken. What you couldn't make happen, the most high God is about to make happen.
My father had a sister named Mary. In her late 40s Mary became very ill, she couldn't get out of bed, couldn't walk, talk, feed herself. She got to the point, where she didn't recognize people, she was going in and out of consciousness, basically at home giving up to die. When my father found out how sick she was, he decided to drive to Dallas and pray for her. He walked in the room and Mary didn't recognize him. Daddy took her by the hand and said "Mary, in the name of Jesus, rise and walk"! Instantly Mary woke up, she got out of the bed, she was able to walk and talk. That day for the first time in months she fed herself. It was a turning point, she was instantly healed.
Later that night my father asked her, "Mary, why did you get up so quickly"? She said, "I heard God say: Mary, rise and walk". My father kind of laughed and said, "No, Mary, I said that". She said, "No, John, I've heard God say: rise and walk". My dad said, "Mary, I was standing right there, I'm telling you, I'm the one that said it". She got up in his face and said, "Listen here, John, I've heard the Creator of the universe, the most high God told me to rise and walk. And when he said that, I felt something go through my body, that I had never felt before".
What was that? God crossing the lake, God breaking forces of darkness. Mary went on to live many years healthy and whole. I can imagine when people saw the man, that had been to reigns, they'd come up to say, "Are you really that same man that used to live out in the tombs? Are you really that guy, we were all afraid of, screaming, crazy"? What they were saying was, you don't look like what you've been through. We've seen you for years one way, now you're blessed, healthy, free, as this man was playing with his grandchildren, down through the years, enjoying life.
I'm sure, many times he paused and said, "God, thank you for crossing the lake, thank you for coming to me, when I couldn't get to you". How many times has God crossed the lake for us, freed us, when we couldn't free ourselves, brought us out of trouble, that we got ourselves into, turned a family member around that didn't deserve it, healed us, when the medical report said we were done - that's the mercy of God. It's from everlasting to everlasting. That means, God will never stop crossing the lake for you.
In this story Jesus told of the prodigal son, the young man took his inheritance, left home and wasted all of his money. Eventually he ran out of funds, the only job he could find was working at a hog pen. He got so low, so desperate, he had to eat hog food to survive. Finally he decided to go back home. He thought: my father has staff members, that live better than me, maybe he'll give me a job. When he went home, his father was out looking for him. He saw the son a great distance tall, took off running toward and hugged his son and kissed him.
The son went into his feet: dad, I've blown it, dad, I know I was wrong. His father didn't even let him finish, he said to his assistant: "Quick! Go get the best robe in the house and put it on him, go get new shoes for his feet, put a ring on his finger, kill the fatted calf, we're going to have a party". Imagine. The son was cleaned up now, wearing his new robe, his new shoes, his ring of honor. He didn't look like the guy from the hog pen, he didn't look like the son that blew his inheritance. This shows us the heart of God: even when it's our fault, even when we bring trouble on ourselves, God doesn't want us to look like what we've been through, he doesn't want you to be in constant memory of your failures, the hurts the in justices.
Whether you made the mistakes or like the deranged man, forces of darkness are trying to stop you, God still crosses lakes, he still says: go get the best robe, he still restores back to honor. You would think this father would say: alright, you can come back home, but you need to be guilty, you need to know how wrong you were. The father didn't even bring up his past. You may have blown it, done things that you're not proud of, you think you'll always be hindered by the past - quit listening to the accusing voices, you are forgiven, you are redeemed. Now, do your part, put on your robe of honor, start receiving the mercy, that your heavenly father is offering you.
If you will shake off the guilt and keep moving forward, nobody will be able to tell what you've been through. You mean, you struggled for years with an addiction: you don't look like it, you're free, clean, helping others. You don't look like you've had cancer: you're healthy and whole. You don't look like you've been through a divorce: you're happy, remarry, have a great spouse - that's God's dream to bring you out better. You may have had unfair things happen, seems like you're at a disadvantage - get ready, God is about to do a new thing, he is crossing that lake right now, coming after you. I believe and declare, God is going to restore you to greater honor, you are coming out without the smell of smoke, things are changing in your favor, freedom, healing, vindication, promotion, the fullness of your destiny in Jesus name.