Joel Osteen - No More Excuses
I wanna talk to you today about "No More Excuses". It's easy to come up with a reason why we can't accomplish a dream, why we can't be happy, why we can't can't overcome a problem. Excuses are a dime a dozen. We think, "I've got an excuse to be sour. Traffic was bad. My boss was rude. My co-worker left me out. I've got an excuse to be offended. These people hurt me. They didn't keep their word. They betrayed me". Or "I've got an excuse to settle where I am. I had a bad childhood. I lost a loved one, went through a breakup". No, as long as you're making excuses, you will justify staying where you are. Excuses give us permission to settle for less than God's best. And you can find an excuse about anything.
When my nephew Matthew was about 4 years old, he was out walking through the woods with my father down this trail, and they came upon this big, granddaddy longlegs spider on the ground. Matt was about to stomp it with his shoe. My father said, "Matt, don't do that. We're out here where he lives. He didn't do anything wrong. Let's leave him alone". Matt contemplated it for a little while, and he wasn't fully convinced, but he finally turned and walked off. He got about 15 steps away. He turned around and ran back and smashed that spider as hard as he could with his foot. My dad said, "Matt, why'd you do that"? He looked up and said, "Granddaddy, the devil made me do it". It's easy to find an excuse. "I can't lose this weight. My metabolism is too slow". One man said, "My metabolism is not slow. It's in a coma". "I can't break this addiction. Everybody in my family has it. It's in my genes. It's been passed down to me". Yes, it may be in your genes, but the good news is you can turn off those genes. You have the power to overcome it, but the only way it's going to happen is if you get rid of the excuses.
As long as you're blaming the past, blaming a neighbor, blaming the traffic, the weather, then you're going to get stuck. I'm asking you to throw out the excuses. It may be a valid excuse: it wasn't fair, you went through a disappointment, a sickness, a betrayal, but you have to draw the line in the sand and say, "I refuse to live my life with a chip on my shoulder, angry, upset, with no passion. If you'll get rid of the excuses, God will be your vindicator. God will pay you back for the unfair things. This is your year to step up to a new level, to see God's favor in a new way. Now, have this attitude: "No more excuses. No excuses to be unhappy. This day is a gift from God. I'm going to enjoy it, in spite of what's going on. No excuses to settle for mediocrity, give up on my dreams. I'm pursuing my goals, overcoming obstacles, breaking these bad habits". Or how about, "No more excuses to go around feeling inferior. I know who I am, a child of the Most High God".
"Well, Joel, I don't think I could accomplish my goals. I'm not that talented. I don't really have the connections. I didn't get what my friends got. They have the looks, the personality, the good breaks". Here's the key: if you didn't get it, then you don't need it. You have exactly what you need. If you needed what they had, God would've given it to you. Now, quit comparing yourself, and start running your own race. You are anointed to be you. Nobody can beat you at being you. You are fully loaded, totally equipped, uniquely designed for the race that's been laid out for you. And get rid of those excuses: "I'm too tall, too short, too old, wrong nationality". You have been fearfully and wonderfully made. Step up to who you were created to be.
When my father went to be with the Lord, I knew I was supposed to step up and pastor the church, but all of these excuses flooded my mind: "I don't have the training. I've never ministered before. My personality is too laid back. My voice is not strong enough". If I would've held on to those excuses, I wouldn't be standing here today. Anytime God is about to take you to a new level, there will be excuses you will have to first get rid of. Before you see promotion, ya have to get rid of that excuse, "I'm not qualified. I'm not that talented. I can't do that". Before you break the addiction, get rid of the excuse: "I've had it too long. I'm not disciplined enough". Before you meet the person of your dreams, ya have to get rid of the excuse, "I'm not that attractive. I don't have a good personality". Friends, God wants to do something new in your life. He wants to take ya to a new level of your destiny. Are you allowing excuses to hold you back?
When I stepped up and started ministering, I would write out all my sermons by hand. I would have 20 pages of notes scribbled here and there, all over the desk. On Saturday, I would try to put 'em all together and hope that somehow it made sense. Now, a couple of months in, Victoria came and said, "Joel you're wasting so much time writing this all out by hand. You need to get a computer and start typing it. That way you can cut, paste, move it around. It'd be so much easier". Well, I had taken typing in high school, but I hadn't typed in 20 years. And I reached into my excuse bag, and I pulled a couple out. I said, "Victoria, I can't do that. I don't know how to type". I was saying, in effect, "I'm limited. I'm not up to par. I can't learn anything new". She looked at me and said, "Joel, you are 36 years old, you can do anything you put your mind to. We're gonna get a computer, and you're gonna start typing out these messages". She didn't ask me. She told me. All I could say was "Yes, ma'am".
But sometimes ya need someone to speak the truth in love to you. Maybe you're coasting like I was, thinking that you can't step up. You've reached your limits. No, you have gifts and talents on the inside that you've not tapped into. I'm telling you like Victoria told me, no ifs, ands, or buts, it's time to lose the excuse bag. Step up to a new level. Start learning something new. Start training for that next program. Start taking on more responsibility. Or how about start writing that book. Start writing those songs. Start developing that business plan. You have potential lying dormant on the inside right now. It's seeds of greatness. The enemy would love to use excuses to keep it from ever coming out. You gotta stir up what God put on inside. Quit telling yourself what you can't do, how you don't have the discipline, the training, the education. You have everything you need. You are well able. God has already put it in you. I started typing my messages on the computer, and it was like night-and-day difference.
A couple of weeks, it all came back. I remembered how to type, saved me hours every week. Since then, I've typed seven books, hundreds of messages, and I'm so glad I had that idea. But you've heard that saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," but I've learned it depends on what kind of dog you have. If your dog thinks, "I'm limited, I'm lacking, I can't learn anything new," then that dog will get stuck. But if you have a dog that says, "I'm well able, I'm equipped, empowered, nothing's too hard for me," that dog will learn new tricks. My message: make sure you're the right kind of dog! Are you stuck doing something the old-fashioned way because, like I did, you think you don't have the talent, the know-how, the ability to step into the new? Well, quit discounting yourself. You have what you need to live in this generation. Quit shrinking back. Don't let those excuses convince you that you're lacking, you're too old, too young, not up to speed, not up to par. God put in you what you need for this day. This is your time to shine. Get rid of those limiting excuses, and stay open for new ideas and new ways to do things.
The thing I love about my mom, she's 81 years old. She sends us kids group texts all through the day. Most of them make sense, but I love the fact that she's not intimidated to learn something new. I'm just praying she doesn't discover Instagram. But seriously, when we keep making excuses, they become a crutch. That way we can justify why we're not where we're supposed to be. "Well, they hurt me. They did me wrong". Now I have to use this self-pity crutch to hobble along. I've got a reason to be this way. Or "My friend is more talented. They got the looks, the personality".
So I've got to use this inferior crutch, this not-up-to-par crutch. Or "I made some mistakes in life, didn't raise my kids right, blew my relationship". That's why I'm using this regret crutch, this not-up-to-par crutch. Every time you make an excuse, it's slowing you down. It's causing you to hobble. And the tragedy is some people spend their whole life on crutches. Don't let that be you. If you'll get rid of the excuses, believe that ya have what it takes, trust God to make your wrongs right, then instead of hobbling, barely getting by, you'll keep stepping into new levels of your destiny.
That's what a young lady did, named Wilma. She was born prematurely back in the 1940s, the 20th of 22 children. When she was 4 years old, she developed polio in her left leg. It shriveled up so badly that doctors told her parents she would probably never walk again. When other kids were out playing and having fun, she was at home, not able to walk. She spent 2 years bedridden. She could've thought, "Hey, this is my lot in life. I've had a bad break. Got a good reason to settle where I am". No, Wilma had this no-excuses mentality. A caring doctor made her a special leg brace and a shoe. Against all odds, she learned how to walk. At 11 years of age, without her parents knowing it, she started taking off the brace and going out and playing with the other kids. She developed a great passion for running. Some days, she'd go out and runs for hour at a time.
One day, a coach from Tennessee state university noticed how much she loved to run and how fast she was. He invited her to try out for the team. She not only made that team, but at 16 years old she qualified for the 1956 Olympics and went on to win a bronze medal. Four years later in the 1960 Olympics, Wilma Rudolph won three gold medals, went on to become a national hero. That's what happens when you don't let self-pity become a crutch. You don't sit around, thinking about what ya didn't get, how you don't measure up. You'll beat the odds. God will get you to where you're supposed to be. We've all had bad breaks, things we don't understand, but if that was going to keep you from your destiny, God would've never permitted it. Don't let it become a crutch. Don't use it as an excuse to settle where you are. Do like Wilma. Stir up what God's put on the inside, and you'll go places that you've never dreamed.
In the scripture, there was a man that had been blind since his birth. Some people asked Jesus, "Why was he born this way? Whose fault was it, his or his parents"? They wanted somebody to blame, an excuse, a reason. Jesus said to them, "It's nobody's fault. He was born this way so that the goodness of God might be displayed in his life". Jesus touched his eyes, and instantly he could see. When ya have a bad break, a disadvantage, don't get stuck looking for someone or something to blame. You're not always going to understand why things happen in life, but if you'll stay in faith, it won't work against you. It will work for you. God will use it to show out in your life. But like these people, it's easy to want to blame the parents: "It's their fault. That's why he's blind". Blame the man. Blame the neighbor. Blame a friend.
All that's going to do is give ya a reason to feel sorry for yourself. Before long, you'll have that crunch. But nothing that's happened to you is a surprise to God. Ya have to take the hand you've been dealt and make the most of it. It may not have been fair, but God is fair. He is a God of justice. He sees every wrong that's been done to you, every hurt, every disadvantage. And if you won't let it become an excuse to get bitter, to have a chip on your shoulder, then God said he'll take that wrong, and he'll turn it around and use it to your advantage. He will pay you back for the unfair things. See, people can't stop your destiny. What they said about you, what they did to you, how they tried to make you feel, it doesn't have to affect you. The only power that has over you is the power that you give it. If you sit around nursing your wounds, thinking about the wrong, about how bad it was, that's going to become a crutch that will hold you back. But if you'll let it go, God will fight your battles. God will be your vindicator.
We see this principle in the light of Joseph. He went through one unfair situation after another. His brothers betrayed him and sold him into slavery. He could've become bitter, thought, "I've got a good excuse to live my life angry". He was lied about, falsely accused, and put in prison. Another excuse to have a chip on his shoulder. He spent years in that prison for something that he didn't do. He could've come up with excuse after excuse to settle where he was, but Joseph knew those excuses would become crutches that would keep him from his destiny. He had this no-excuse mentality. He kept shaking off the disappointments, overlooking the offenses, doing the right thing when the wrong thing was happening. In the end, he came out vindicated, promoted, in a place of honor, prestige, influence.
You may have had some bad breaks, things you don't understand, but don't get stuck looking back, reliving the negative. That is a distraction. If you'll do like Joseph and keep moving forward, taking the high road, doing the right thing, God will get you to where you're supposed to be. No bad break can stop you, a disadvantage, an injustice. God has the final say. But you say, "Joel, they hurt me. They did me wrong". I say this respectfully: everybody's been hurt. Ya have to get over it. "Well, they left me out". Everybody's been left out. "They lied about me". Everybody's been lied about. It's not worth missing your destiny over. I'm not saying what they did was okay. What I'm saying is it doesn't have to control the rest of your life. It would be easy to live with a chip on your shoulder, thinking about how wrong it is. Before long, you'll have that crutch that will cause you to hobble when God created you to run. You've gotta draw the line in the sand and say, "That's it, no more excuses. Can't do anything about the past, but I can do something about right now, I am gonna live my life in faith, trusting God to make it up to me".
Friends, this day is a gift. Once we live it, we can never get it back. Life is too short to waste another day angry, offended, in self-pity. Like Joseph, you may have had a rough start, but you don't have to have a rough finish. God wants to pay ya back. He wants to give ya beauty for the ashes, double for the injustice. Now, realize it's not always easy to get over it. It's not necessarily easy to move forward. But here's the key: the pain of letting it go is less than the pain of holding on and missing your destiny. In the scripture, it tells us to be imitators of Christ. His life should be our example. If we're gonna be like Jesus, that means we're going to have people come against us, trying to make us to look bad. It means we're going to be misunderstood and criticized. We're going to have a garden of Gethsemane, times we feel alone and abandoned.
And yes, we may even have a Judas, people that betray us, turn their back and walk away. It's interesting: when Judas came with the soldiers to betray Jesus, Jesus said to him, "Friend, what have you come here to do"? Jesus knew he was going to betray him, but he still called him "Friend". His attitude was, "I've already gotten over what you're about to do. Your poor choice is not gonna steal my joy, nor stop my destiny. My father had the final say. It may get a little rough, but I know in the end I'm gon' come out wearing that victor's crown". If we will do like Jesus and not get bitter when unfair things happen, trust our father to make it up to us, at some point, we too will be wearing the victor's crown. Like Joseph, you'll come out vindicated, promoted, in a place of honor and influence.
John chapter 5, there's this story about a crippled man. He'd been lying at the pool of Bethesda for 38 years. Every once in a while, an angel would come by and move the water. The first person in wold be healed. The amplified version describes this man's condition as a deep-seated, lingering disorder. What is a "Lingering disorder"? It's not just physical, but when we stay focused on negative things of the past, we keep making excuses and not move forward, those lingering disorders can keep us from our destiny. And one day, Jesus came by and saw the man lying there. It was obvious that he was crippled. Jesus knew the reason he was by the pool was to try to get well. But he asked him what seemed to be a strange question. He said to the man, "Do you wanna get well"? One version says, "Are you serious about getting well"?
By the way this man responded, it shows us why he'd been that way for so long. He said, "Yes, but I don't have anybody to help me. I'm at a disadvantage. I'm all alone. You see my legs. When the angel comes, everybody gets in, in front of me". He used excuse after excuse. And he'd used those excuses so long, they had become a crutch. And I love the way Jesus answered back. He didn't respond to the man's sad story. He didn't say, "Well, I feel sorry for ya. You've had a rough life". He looked him in the eyes and said, in effect, "If you're serious about getting well, if you're serious about moving forward, then pick up your bed, get up, and be on your way". He spoke faith over the man. And for the first time, when that man heard that, something came alive on the inside. He thought, "You mean, I don't have to keep making excuses? You mean, I don't have to just sit here and wait for something to change? I can make something happen"? This man got up, took up his bed. He walked out of there, healthy and whole.
I wonder how many things we would get out of, defeat, depression, bad habits, if we would just quit feeling sorry for ourselves, quit making excuses, and start moving forward? God is asking us today what he asked this man: "Are ya serious about getting well? Are ya serious about overcoming that addiction, about finishing school, about moving past that disappointment? Then there's something that you have to do. Get up on the inside, in your attitude, in your thoughts, in your countenance, in how ya talk". In other words, shake off the self-pity. Quit reliving the negative. You're waiting on God, but God is waiting on you. If you will get up, take up your bed, so to speak, start moving forward, that's when you'll see things begin to change in your favor. God said in Isaiah 42, "The former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare. Sing a new song unto the Lord". God is saying the things you've been struggling with are coming to an end. The discouragement, the loneliness, the bad breaks, the depression. God is about to put a stop to it. He's going to do a new thing, but there is one requirement.
The last part of this verse is the whole key. If you want to see the negative end, and God do a new thing, then you have to sing a new song. You can't keep singing that old song of who hurt me, and "I've been by this pool 38 years. I'm never gonna get well". No, throw out that song of self-pity. Get rid of that song of defeat, erase that song of "It's never going to work out". Start singing a song of victory: "I may have had some bad breaks, but I know this is my due-season year. Things are changing in my favor. I am armed with strength of this battle". "I will overcome this illness". "I will break this bad habit". "I will finish school". "I will live healthy, whole, victorious". If you wanna see the new, you've gotta start singing the new song. In other words, no more sad songs. No more talking about who hurt you, what didn't work out.
God knows everything you've been through. You don't have to constantly remind him. If you'll lose the sad song and start singing a new song, God will turn your mourning into dancing. He'll take the setback and use it as a setup to take you somewhere greater. But I wonder how many of us today, like this man, have these lingering disorders? We went through a hurt, a disappointment. Instead of letting it go, moving forward, trusting God, we started making excuses. Now it's gone on year after year. The good news is, if you'll get rid of the excuses, it's just a matter of time before those lingering disorders will leave. That's when God will show up and begin to turn things around.
Is there something you need to get over today, a childhood that wasn't so great, a friend that betrayed ya, a business that didn't make it? Now you're using it as a crutch to stay where you are? Why don't you make this decision with me? No more excuses. You can't do anything about your past, but you can do something about your future. And because you have this new song, I believe and declare that things that have held you back are coming to an end. God is doing a new thing. You're going to see beauty for those ashes. You're going to overcome the illness, see new relationships, new opportunities, a new level of your destiny. In Jesus' name.