Joel Osteen — The Secret Place
I want to talk to you today about "The secret place". In the Old Testament, there was something called the holy of holies, and that was the inner part of the temple where the presence of God dwells. It was a restricted area, very protected, no one could go in there except the priest, and only with them, certain times a year. They had to take the right sacrifices, be extremely careful, they knew if everything wasn't in order, and they didn't treat it with the utmost respect and honor, they would be killed. It was a very serious thing, so they went to great lengths to guard it and to keep the wrong things out.
In the same way, every one of us should have a holy of holies. Not a physical place, but down in you, there should be a secret place, an inner sanctuary, where you don't allow everything in. Any worry, offense, bitterness, trouble, turmoil, that may be happening on the outside, but you guard your secret place. You don't let it into your inner sanctuary. Your secret place should be a place of peace, of rest, of faith, where you know God is in control. But if you make the mistake of letting everything in, constantly dwelling on your difficulties, living worried, upset, offended, the problem is, your secret place will become contaminated. This is where you live out of.
Proverbs says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for out of it flow the issues of life". This is saying above everything, protect your secret place. If you're allowing everything in, what they said, what didn't work out, the disappointment, the hurt, the pain, the stress, the traffic, then because your secret place is poisoned, it will impact everything about you, your attitude, your relationships, your joy, your vision. Out of your secret place, flow the issues of life, and we all have negative things come against us. We can't get away from that, but don't bring it close to you. Quit giving it so much attention, reliving the hurt, thinking about the offense, dwelling on the disappointment. That doesn't belong in your inner sanctuary. This is a very hallowed space. You have to keep your secret place consecrated, set apart. You're very selective about what you allow in.
If you don't respect your secret place, if you don't guard your inner sanctuary, then you'll go through life offended, worry, upset, discouraged, and this is why many people have no joy, no peace, they're always down. It's not because they have more difficulties, necessarily, it's because they're not protecting their secret place, and sometimes when people see you in peace, you're always consistent, they think you must not have any problems. "I wish I had your life, you should see what I'm dealing with". The truth is, we all face difficulties. We all have unfair situations. The difference is the people that are in peace, positive, hopeful, they're not allowing the negative into their inner sanctuary, and things can be happening on the outside. A friend did you wrong, setback in your health, the feelings will come: offense, worry, discouragement, you can't stop the feelings from coming, but you can stop them from getting into your secret place.
I'm not saying to never feel worried, never feel offended, never feel discouraged, that's not reality. Feelings are a part of life. I'm saying don't bring it close to you. You have to put your foot down, say this person did me wrong, but I'm not going to be offended, God is my vindicator. The medical report is not good, I'm not living worried, nothing can snatch me out of God's hands. I didn't get that promotion, but I'm not sitting around in self-pity, I know God has something better in store. You have to protect your secret place. Your feelings will do everything they can to try to get in. Worry will knock at your door every night.
What are you going to do about your finances? What if the report isn't good? What if your child doesn't straighten up? Offense, self-pity, discouragement, they don't give up easily. They'll constantly whisper, "Let me in. Come on, you had a bad break, feel sorry for yourself. They did you wrong, you have a right to be depressed". Or "You lost a loved one, you should be sour". You have to be determined to say, "No, you are not getting in to my secret place. I am not living worried and upset". Friends, when you're in peace, that's a position of power. When you have a good attitude, despite what's going on around you, you're showing God that you trust him, and our actions speak louder than our words. When we go around upset, worried, discouraged, that's a sign that we're letting the wrong things into our secret place. The good news is, you control that doorway. You can do something about it. Draw the line in the sand, say, "That's it, this is a new day, I'm serving an eviction notice to all the negative, worry, offense, trouble, turmoil. From this day forward, you are no longer welcome in my secret place".
The scripture says don't let the sun go down on your anger. It's okay to feel anger, it's okay to feel hurt, to feel disappointment, but it's not okay to let those feelings stay. You can't bring them so close to you that you wake up the next morning upset, wanting to pay somebody back, not excited about your future. That's going to poison your life. Keep it on the outside. Don't let it in your inner sanctuary. A friend of mine is fighting cancer. He's had several surgeries, gone through chemo and radiation. There's a lot of turmoil on the outside. He could be upset, worried, discouraged, he's just as calm and peaceful. He still has his sense of humor. He's learned this principle, to not let the turmoil get on the inside. He's protecting his inner sanctuary.
See, ships don't sink because of the water around them, ships sink because of the water that get in them. A ship can be in the ocean and have hundreds of miles of water in every direction. The waters can be cold, choppy, rough, big waves, water around them is not a problem, but if that ship lets what's on the outside get on the inside, then it is a major problem, it will sink. We can't stop what's on the outside, opposition, offense, trouble, delays, traffic, these things are going to happen. The key is, don't let what's on the outside get on the inside.
A lady I know emailed me, her husband has cancer of the esophagus, and during surgery, they had complications, and weren't able to remove it, and he's had to take chemo and radiation. It's been a long, tough battle. If that wasn't bad enough, she just got news that she has cancer of the liver, now she's going to have to take the treatment. A lot of people would have been bitter, in self-pity, "God, why is this happening to me"? The end of her email said, "Joel, we've got a rough road up ahead, but we know God is with us. We're at peace, we're happy, and we're enjoying life". The only way you could say you're at peace and enjoying life when all hell breaks out like that is when you know how to protect your secret place. She's not letting the turmoil, the worry, the discouragement get on the inside, in that inner sanctuary.
But I know people, they're just the opposite. They're always upset, worried, discouraged, it's because they're allowing everything in. Somebody is rude to them, they get offended. They get stuck in traffic, they're stressed out. They can't find the remote control for the television, ruins the rest of the evening. They're not protecting their inner sanctuary. In the scripture, the apostle Paul faced all kinds of difficulties, but he said, "None of these things move me". We should get to that point, that no matter what comes our way, it doesn't move us, we stay in peace, we keep our joy. You may have things coming against you today in your health, your finances, a relationship, like that ship, nothing on the outside can bring you down. Trouble, opposition, unfair circumstances may be all around you, you can't stop the storms from coming, but you can stop that storm from getting in you.
This is what Joseph did: he was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused, spent time in prison. On the outside, there was a lot of turmoil. He had the right, at least in the natural, to be angry, bitter, in self-pit, but Joseph didn't let what was on the outside get on the inside. The feelings came, he felt bitterness, the rejection, the loneliness, but he made the choice that he wasn't going to keep dwelling on it, reliving the hurts, thinking about how unfair it was, and because he kept his inner sanctuary pure, he operated out of a place of peace, of hope, of faith. That's what allows God to turn things around. When king Saul was chasing David, trying to kill him, David could have been upset, thinking, "Why is this guy after me? I haven't done one thing wrong to him". Saul chased him through the desert, month after month, making David's life miserable.
You could imagine how David could have let the frustration, the worry, the turmoil get on the inside and cause him to be sour. David did what we all must do. He didn't let that into his secret place. At one point, while Saul was chasing them, David had a opportunity to put an end to it. Saul was sleeping, David's men saw it and said, "David, this is our big chance, we can go kill him". David said, "No, don't do it, he's the king. Even though he's doing wrong, I'm going to honor his authority by doing the right things. The only way David could do that is to protect his secret place. He wasn't allowing the anger, the bitterness on the inside, and with both David and Joseph, God not only took care of their enemies, but God promoted them and took them to the throne.
When you face trouble, opposition, bad breaks, that's when it's the most easiest to let bitterness in. "God, why is this happening to me? Why did I come down with this illness? Why did my child get off course? Why did this company let me go"? In those tough times, when you don't understand it, you're doing the right thing but the wrong thing is happening, more than ever, you have to guard your secret place. Come back to that place of peace, that place of trust. Like David, like Joseph, you could say, "God, there's trouble all around me. It doesn't make sense, but I am not going to let it get in me. I know you will make my wrongs right. I know no weapon formed against me will ever prosper. I know this was meant for harm, but you will use it to my advantage".
What am I saying? Be careful what you let get close to you. Bitterness does not belong in your secret place. Offense, self-pity, discouragement, that will keep you from your destiny. "Well, Joel, the loan didn't go through. I'm so disappointed". "I worked hard and I didn't get the promotion". "The medical report says I'm never going to get well". Don't let what's on the outside get on inside. Your inner sanctuary needs to stay positive, hopeful, peaceful, this is what allows God to work.
This is what Mary, the mother of Jesus, had to do. As a teenager, she had just met the man of her dreams, Joseph. They fell in love, got engaged, life couldn't get any better. Everything was going great, then it totally changed. An angel appeared to Mary and told her that she was going to have a baby without knowing a man, that he would be the Messiah, and we focus on how amazing that must have been, a supernatural birth. Wow, she must have been so thrilled. Sometimes we forget what Mary had to go through. She started showing signs of having a baby, her fiance, Joseph, noticed. They had not yet been together, they were waiting for marriage.
You can imagine Mary trying to explain, "Yes, Joseph, I'm going to have a baby. I'm pregnant, but I didn't do anything wrong, this angel appeared to me," and I can hear him saying, "Yeah, and I'm going to go find me an angel somewhere". Word got out, and people started talking, negative chatter. "There's that girl, Mary, she's not married, she's pregnant. He says it's not even his baby". Mary had to accept the fact that she would be misunderstood her whole life. Everybody didn't believe she was going to have a baby without knowing a man. There were people that said she's a fraud, she's a crook, she should be ashamed of herself, she's just covering her mistakes. Everywhere she went, Mary had to put up with rumors, innuendos, negative talk. She could have become defensive, cynical, bitter, but Mary didn't let the negative chatter get on the inside. When the angel told her she was going to have a baby, the scripture says she pondered that in her heart. That means she thought about it over and over.
Notice, what Mary let close to her heart was what God promised her. That's what she allowed in her inner sanctuary. She could have let the rumors, the questions, the innuendos in, but Mary guarded her inner sanctuary. The odds may be against you, it looks impossible, people are talking, do like Mary, don't dwell on any of that. Keep what God promised you close to your heart. Your secret place needs to be not only a place of peace, but a place of faith, a place of expectancy. Instead of letting the doubt, the discouragement, the offense, the rumors in, let what God promised you into your inner sanctuary. What I'm saying is, close the door on the negative. People are talking about me, no big deal, God is my vindicator. I went through a loss, a disappointment, I should be discouraged but I'm still in peace. I know it's not a surprise to God, he can give me beauty for this ashes.
You may be having trouble at work, turmoil in a relationship, setback in your finances, you can say like Paul, "None of these things move me". You've got your secret place protected. To do this, we have to get good at letting things go. Sometimes we let small things keep us from God's best. Somebody cut you off in traffic, you don't even know that person, don't let that offense in, let it go. A co-worker is rude to you, leaves you out of a meeting, you feel offended, that's okay, that's normal, but don't keep dwelling on it. Don't let it sour the rest of your day, keep it out of your secret place. Or maybe somebody is talking behind your back, trying to make you look bad, spreading rumors, don't let the negative chatter get on the inside. There will always be people who are jealous, who don't like you, who will find the smallest mistake you make and blow it out of proportion, exaggerate it to try to discredit you.
It's easy to get offended, self-pity, try to pay them back, best thing you can do is let it go. They cannot stop you, that is a test. If you get distracted and become bitter, you're playing right into their hands. "Well, Joel, what if people believe what they're saying? What if they do make me look bad? What if they damage my reputation"? No, you keep doing the right thing, honoring God, and he will protect your reputation. He'll make your wrongs right. Don't bring the negative chatter in close. There's so much these days, with social media, people can hide behind being anonymous, say hurtful, critical things to try to make you feel small, insignificant, not good enough.
I talked to a high school student, she's in her freshman year, a beautiful young lady, and smart, and well spoken, articulate, but she was very discouraged, insecure, almost a little confused, because there was this social medial campaign against her at school. Seemed like it was the whole high school, the truth is, it was just a handful of bullies, people that were jealous, envious, haters, you can't stop that, and I told her what I'm telling you, let it go. Don't dwell on it, let it bounce off of you. The trick of the enemy is to try to deceive you into bringing that into your secret place, and if you stay focused on it, keep thinking about what they said, it's going to poison your life, let it go. Negative chatter does not belong in your inner sanctuary, and it takes a mature person to say, "I am not going to read that comment. I am not going to get that down into my spirit".
You can tell when somebody has let bitterness in, self-pity, offense. You're friendly to them, but their short with you, they are always defensive, thinking that people are out to get them. The problem is what they've let into their secret place, is become contaminated. That's why the scripture says, "Guard your heart". Don't let the poison in. What are you thinking about during the day? What are you dwelling on at night? What you're constantly playing in your mind, that's what you're allowing in your secret place. Most of the response I receive about our ministry is very positive. People come up, stop me and thank me, I'm very grateful for that, but I do realize there are a few people that don't like me, maybe two or three, but I no more pay any attention to that. I have never read one negative article about me. If I'm reading it and it starts to go that way, I move on, I don't let it on the inside. I don't want that in my mind, so I have to try to not think about it later.
It's easier to guard your secret place if you're not taking in unnecessary things that you know are going to contaminate you. Quit reading every negative comment about you. Quit asking your friends for all the details of what the hateful, jealous, critical people are saying about you. Do like me, assume that everybody loves you. I'm naive, but I act like everybody's my best friend. The truth is, it is better to live out of a place of wholeness, positive, confident, secure faith than to live out of insecurity, bitterness, being defensive. The scripture says, "Think on things that are of a good report," things that are wholesome, positive, hopeful. Sometimes we're our own worst enemies. We call that friend, "Now, tell me again what that person was saying about me". Before long, we want to pay them back, it's on the forefront of our mind.
If you keep thinking about it, reliving the hurt, dwelling on what they said, you're letting it into your secret place. It's not only going to contaminate you, but then God will step back and wait. If you want to handle it, God will let you handle it, but if you say, "God, I'm not going worry about this, I'm not bringing this close to me. I'm staying on the high road. I'm protecting my secret place," then God will step up and say, "Alright, let me go to work. Let me be your vindicator". You don't have to vindicate yourself, just run your race, stay focused on your goals, and God will take care of your enemies. Job says, "Those who hate you will be clothed with shame". Quit letting the chatter, the jealously, the people that are never going to like you, don't let that poison get on the inside.
A few years after I started ministering, there was this person that was very against me. It was like their mission in life to try to make me look bad, and they were very vocal about it. I had never met them, but I'd hear reports that they were making disparaging reMarks and trying to discredit me. This went on for seven or eight years. In the natural, of course, you know, you want to get in there and fight that battle, defend yourself, I did just what I'm asking you to do. I let it go, I didn't pay any attention to it, I said, "God, I am not going to let that poison into my secret place. I'm staying in peace, I'm keeping my joy". I didn't do it just one time and I was done, I did it again and again, year after year. That offense kept coming back, knocking on the door.
One day, this person had some negative things come out about them, some things they weren't doing right, and that was the beginning of a domino effect. Everything started to come down. They lost their business, their influence, their reputation, their platform. Like the scripture says, they were clothed with shame. I'm not happy about that, I prayed for restoration, for God's blessings, but my point is, if you'll protect your secret place and not take the bait of being offended, it will not only not contaminate you, but God will be your vindicator, and can I tell you? God can vindicate you better than you can vindicate yourself. If you'll let God do it his way, the victory will be much sweeter. Jesus said stop allowing yourself to be upset. Stop allowing what they said into your secret place. Stop allowing the trouble, the turmoil, the worry, the offense into your inner sanctuary, it doesn't belong there.
What you constantly think about, you're putting on the throne of your life. The key is to keep God on the throne. It's easy to put a negative medical report on the throne, go around worried all day. Some people put the hurt, the disappointment, what somebody said on the throne. As long as you're focused on those things, giving them your most attention, you're going to live worried, upset. The problem is, you have your circumstances on the throne, you need to put God back up on the throne. When God is on the throne, you're at peace and you know he's your healer, he's your deliverer, he's your way-maker, he's your vindicator. You know he'll give you beauty for those ashes, but whatever you have on the throne, that's what you're worshiping. Are you worshiping your circumstances, worshiping what somebody said? If you would put God back on the throne, you would see things begin to turn around.
That's what the Psalmist said, "Let God arise and his enemies be scattered". When you put God back up on the throne, he'll take care of anything that's holding you back. Friends, I'm asking you to protect your secret place. Negative things happen to us all, and like that ship, nothing on the outside can bring you down, it's only if you let it on the inside. Don't allow it in your inner sanctuary, guard your heart, stay in peace. If you do this, I believe and declare, like Mary, you're going to rise above the negative chatter. God is going to fight your battles, promote you, heal you, vindicate you, bring you to the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.