Joel Osteen - Outlast The Opposition
I want to talk to you today about Outlast the Opposition. We all have things that come against us in life: people that aren't fair, we're dealing with an illness, our business has slowed down. We're praying, believing, doing the right thing, but nothing is changing. It's easy to get discouraged and think that it's never going to improve, but the way you win some battles is not by defeating the opposition, but by outlasting the opposition, you have to have staying power. You can't be weak and give up, because it's not happening on your timetable. Some enemies are stubborn, you have to outlast the trouble at work, outlast the difficulty in your marriage, outlast the slow season in your finances. We want God to deliver us from the attack, but if he's not changing it, it's real simple, you have to outlast the attack.
Sometimes we feel like God is forgotten about us, we've seen him turn situations around in the past, but this problem seems like it's never going to go away. No, God is still going to turn it around, but this time he's going to do it a different way. You have to have a holy determination, a made up mind, where you dig your heels in and say "I am in it for the long haul. Quitting is not an option, I'm going to outlast this sickness, I'm going to outlast the addiction, I'm going to outlast this injustice".
This is what David did. He defeated Goliath in five minutes, no big deal. God favoured him and he quickly brought down that huge giant, overnight he became a national hero. But there was another man named king Saul, that was against David. Saul was on the throne of Israel, when God promised David the throne. God could have had David defeat Saul, like he defeated Goliath, quickly, no problem, but this time was very different. David had been anointed to be the next king, and after he defeated Goliath he left the shepherd's fields and went to the palace to serve king Saul. But Saul was jealous of David, he could see the favor on his life.
One time David was playing the harp for Saul, trying to make him feel better, Saul threw a spear at David and barely missed him. David had to run for his life, he spent months in the desert, in hiding, living in caves, with Saul and his men constantly on his trail trying to kill David. Wasn't fair, David hadn't done anything wrong, he was being good to Saul. You would think that God would stop Saul, vindicate David and put him on the throne, like he promised. But God doesn't do things the same way, for some victories we have to prove, we'll do the right thing, when the wrong thing is happening. We have to be good to people, when they're not being good to us. We have to stay in faith, when it's unfair, when it's taking longer than we thought, when we don't see how it's going to work out.
How bad do you want what God promised you? If you give up easily, you don't want it bad enough. If you let people talk you out of it, bad breaks discourage you, or delays cause you to quit believing, that will keep you from God's best. There are two kinds of faith: delivering faith and sustaining faith. Delivering faith is when God instantly turns it around, that's when we defeat our Goliath. We don't have to wait, we don't have to endure, God suddenly shows out in our life. We believe in delivering faith, we've all seen that, but most of the time we're going to need sustaining faith, that's when God takes us through the difficulty, through the challenge. He could turn it around right now, he could change it in an instant, but if God did that every time, our faith would never develop, would never grow like it should.
Something happens in the struggle, when our mind says "It's never going to work out", but in our heart we know, "What God promised is on the way". Our mind tells us, "You're wasting your time. There's no use even believing", but you just keep on, keeping on. Keep on trusting God, keep on thanking him that it the way — that's sustaining faith. And don't expect everything to be easy, don't expect every person to be for you. Just because it hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it's not going to happen. The victory is on the other side of the opposition. It takes staying power, a made up mind, someone that's not moved by the circumstances.
At one point David saw Saul and his men sleeping. David snuck up on them and could have easily taken Saul's life. This was his big moment to get revenge, to pay him back, to put an end to the misery that Saul was causing him, but David wouldn't do it. Saul had been anointed to be the king, David knew to touch not God's anointed. Had he taken matters into his own hand, that would have kept him from the throne. You have to pass the test of honoring those, that are in authority. Not because they're doing right, but because of their position.
It's easy to be disrespectful to people, when they're being disrespectful to us. It's easy to want to vindicate ourselves. "Here's my big chance, pay them back, get revenge, make them look bad, after all they did it to me". No, stay on the high road, let God be your vindicator, let him pay your enemies back. He sees what's happening, he sees the injustice, he sees the wrongs, if you'll leave it up to God, he'll vindicate you better that you can vindicate yourself.
Month after month David kept doing the right thing, he could have been sour, "God, it was easy to defeat Goliath, why is this taking so long"? But, David understood, some opposition you have to outlast. If you get discouraged, worn down, it's never going to happen, that's going to keep you from what God has in store. In 13 years after David was chosen to be king, after all the hiding, being mistreated, king Saul was killed in a battle. Saul was suddenly taken away and David became the king.
What's interesting is David never defeated Saul, he just outlasted Saul. When you let God fight your battles, he'll get you to where you're supposed to be. Some of the challenges that you're facing, things that are not changing, your being your best, it's not improving, that like David, you have to outlast that opposition. Don't worry about defeating it, if you'll just outlast it, you'll see the victory, God will take care of your Saul's. You keep honoring God and you won't even have to fight, God we'll move the wrong people out of the way, he'll open doors you couldn't open, he'll turn that situation in your health around.
Now outlast the sickness, outlast the loneliness, outlast the trouble at work, you have to tap in to your staying power. The scripture says (Matthew 24:13), "He who endures to the end will receive the prize". Don't give up in the middle, don't get discouraged because it's not happening as fast as you would like, your time is coming.
Friend of mine works for this big company for years, his supervisor has been was against him, he was always putting him down, trying to hit to make him look bad. The supervisor even went to the main boss to try to get this man fired, but the boss wouldn't do it. The boss took all of his other recommendations, why wouldn't he take this one? Because God is in control of your life, not the boss, not people, not a sickness, not an addiction, God has the final say.
This supervisor was constantly spreading rumors about the man, trying to poison the other employees, but this man, my friend, he just kept doing the right thing, overlooking the offense, being good to other people. I never heard him complained, I never saw him discouraged, and this went on for years. One morning this supervisor was called into the main office, he'd been working for the company for over 20 years, looked like he would retire there, but that day he was unexpectedly terminated, they let him go. A few minutes later they called my friend in, out of all the people there, they gave him the supervisors position. He said, "Joel, I don't have the qualifications, there were other people in front of me, but for some reason they chose me, to head up the whole department".
The scripture says, the trap the enemy set for you, they will fall in themselves. You may have people coming against you and to make you look bad, discredit you — you don't have to fight those battles, just outlast them. Keep doing the right thing, keep being faithful each day, and God will take care of what's trying to stop you. Are you frustrated over what's not changing, you're praying and believing and it's not improving? It's because that's not a Goliath, that's a Saul. You can't pray it away, you can't make it work out, you have to outlast it. Now trust God's timing, God knows what he promised you, he knows what he put in your heart, and at the right time it will come to pass.
In the book of Exodus, God told Moses to go tell the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, they had been in slavery for many years. Moses told God that he didn't want to go, that Pharaoh wouldn't listen to him. He finally went, but just like Moses thought, Pharaoh basically laughed, said "Moses, who are you to tell me what to do? You have no authority here, I don't have to listen to you". Moses went back and said, "God I told you it wouldn't work out, told you he wouldn't listen to me".
What's interesting is, the scripture says (Exodus 7:3), God caused Pharaoh to be stubborn so he could show his power in a greater way. God had Moses go back and tell him again and again, but God already knew Pharaoh would say no, he caused him to harden his heart. Moses could have thought, "God, I give up. I'm doing what you asked me to do, but it's not making any difference". No, Moses kept doing the right thing, even though nothing was changing. Everything in him said, "You're wasting your time. It would have happened by now, this man's never going to change his mind". He had to outlast Pharaoh's stubbornness.
I wonder if you're upset about an enemy, that God is causing to be stubborn. He's not letting it turn around yet, because he's going to use that situation to catapult you to a new level. All you can see is "Nothing is improving", what you can't see is what God is about to do, the doors he's about to open, the healing, the vindication, the favor, the promotion that's coming. And yes, you may have some stubborn enemies, the good news, they're not too stubborn for our God. He wouldn't have allowed it, if he wasn't going to bring you out better. And you have to get you a fire back, dig your heels in a little bit deeper and show the enemy, you're more determined than he is. God didn't bring you this far to leave you, he didn't let the Pharaoh say no, because he's more powerful. God is setting you up to show out in your life. He allowed that opposition not to stop you, but to promote you.
Now you have to be more stubborn in your faith, than the stubborn things that come against you. That sickness may be stubborn, you can't seem to get well, that's okay, I'm more stubborn than the sickness, I will live and not die. "Father, thank you that healing is coming, thank you that the number of my dad you will fulfill". That financial difficulty maybe stubborn, it's been hindering my family line for generations... Can I tell you? I'm more stubborn, I will lend and not borrow, "Lord, thank you that abundance is coming my way, that what I touch will prosper and succeed".
Moses went back and told the Pharaoh again and again, "Let them go". Pharaoh was stubborn, but Moses was more stubborn. Every time the opposition tells you "No", you need to go back and tell it "Yes" one more time. Don't let the enemy have the last word, keep speaking faith over your life, keep declaring favor keep, calling yourself blessed, healthy, strong, victorious.
Well Pharaoh finally decided to let them go. These two million Israelites headed toward the Promised Land. Wasn't it long before Pharaoh changed his mind, came chasing after them. It looked like a setback, but really it was God setting them up. The Israelites were at a dead end at the Red Sea, they had nowhere to go. But just because you run out of options, doesn't mean God has run out of options. God told the Israelites (Exodus 14:13): the enemies you see today, you will see no more. The Red Sea parted, the Israelites walked through on dry ground. When Pharaoh and the army came chasing after them, the waters closed up, they were all drowned, they saw those enemies no more.
You may have situations don't look like they're ever going to work out, God is saying to you what he said to them, that depression you're about to see it no more, that is not your destiny. That struggle in your finances, you can't seem to get ahead, you're about to see that enemy of lack no more, God is about to release you into abundance. The sickness that's hindering you, the addiction, the loneliness, the anxiety, you might as well have a going-away party, you're going to see them no more.
This is a new day, God is doing a new thing. Now you need to keep this tenacity in your spirit, this is not the time to be weak and slack off, get worn down. You've been armed with strength for everybody, you are not weak, you are well able to outlast what's trying to stop you.
Over these last twenty years that I've been pastoring, I've had to learn to outlast some things. When I first stepped up to minister, every thought told me that I couldn't do it, that I wasn't qualified, that I didn't have the talent. I tried to push them down, but they kept coming back up, they were stubborn. I couldn't pray them away, I couldn't believe them away, I had to outlast the insecurity, outlast the fear, outlast the intimidation. I wish I could tell you, if you have enough faith, if you're bold enough and competent enough, then you'll never have to fight fear or discouragement or people coming against you, but that's not the case. Some things you just have to outlast, you have to be more determined than what's trying to hold you back.
Twenty years later I don't fight those thoughts anymore, the enemies I saw back then I don't see today. What am I saying? Don't get stuffed in the middle, don't believe the lies that where you are is permanent, you'll always be that way. No, outlast that opposition, keep believing, keep reprogramming your thinking, keep thanking God that he's bigger than what you're facing.
Few years after I started pastoring, the church began to really grow, more people started watching. That was great, but with the greater exposure comes more critics, people that don't understand you and people that don't want you to succeed. At first I wasn't sure how it's going to work out, seem like every week someone was coming against us, trying to discredit us. But I'm never debated with people, I didn't try to change their minds, I just kept running my race, being my best, honoring God.
About ten years in I felt this weight lift off of me. It was as if God said, "Okay, Joel, you've outlasted your critics, you passed this test, the enemies you see today you will see no more". Sure I still have a few critics, maybe a couple, but people can't keep you from your destiny. God being for you is more than the world being against you. My encouragement: don't fight with your critics, just outlast them. Let your actions speak for you, let your success do the talking.
Paul said in Ephesians 6:13, "Having done all to stand". He was saying: when you've done everything you know how to do, you've done your best to get well, you've treated people good that weren't good to you, you've worked hard, but you haven't seen increased, what do you do? Get discouraged, give up, think it's not going to happen? No, just stand. Standing is trusting God, knowing that he's in control. When you're standing, you're not frustrated by what's not happening, you're not complaining about how long it's taking, you're at peace, you're at rest, you know, what God started in your life he's going to finish.
The amplified version says, "Stand firm, immovable", that means you're not moved by the medical report, you're not moved by how your child is acting, you're not moved by the contract that didn't go through, your steadfast, you keep believing, you keep thanking God, you keep being your best. Quitting is not an option, giving up is not in your mindset, you know what God promised is on the way. If it hasn't happened yet, no big deal, I'm gonna keep standing.
Somebody asks you, "Are you still believing to get well? You've had that sickness all long, time I saw the medical report, what are you going to do"? I'm going to stand, I'm going to keep trusting God, I'm going to keep thanking him that healing is coming, I'm gonna keep declaring that I'm healthy, whole and strong. "Well, how long are you gonna stand"? I'm gonna stand until I see, what God promised come to pass. God is looking for people who have stubborn faith. Anyone can get discouraged, anyone can say, "Pharaoh said no, it's not going to happen". If you're going to reach your destiny, you have to make up your mind, you'll going to stand, no matter what comes against you and no matter how long it takes.
The apostle Paul outlasted betrayals, shipwrecks, beatings, being lied about. He had plenty of opportunities to give up, he could have said, "God it's not fair, all these things have come against me". Instead, he had stubborn faith, he said in acts 20:24, "None of these things move me". He wasn't moved by the opposition, by the bad breaks, by how unfair it was. He just kept standing, he went on to write over a half of the books in the New Testament. We need to get to the point where we can say like Paul, "None of these things move me. Not moved by the economy, not moved by what's not working out, I have a made up mind, I'm going to keep standing, keep trusting, keep believing, I'm going to outlast what's trying to stop me". This is one time that it's good to be stubborn, you're not going to be talked out of what God put in your heart.
I was at the beach one time, when our children were small. Alexandra was three and Jonathan was six. We were having a fun time making castles in the sand, when this little yellow bumblebee came landed right beside us. Well, Alexandra screamed and took off running and I just swatted it away and we went back to play. Thirty seconds later the bumblebee was right back, flying all around us, and the kids started screaming again. I've got my towel and I swatted it down to the ground. I thought I showed him who's boss. A minute later he was right back buzzing back and forth, annoying us. This time I not only swatted him to the ground, but I got my tennis shoe and I squashed him in the sand as hard as I could. I thought I am tired of dealing with him.
A couple of minutes later I looked over just to make sure he was still dead, I couldn't believe it: I saw one wing barely start to move, I saw this other wing rise up out of the sand, he walked around for a few seconds like he was dazed. I was amazed not only that he was still alive, but that he could get back up again. About that time he took off flying in the air away from me, and just when I thought we were through with him, he turned around and headed straight back toward us. I thought you gotta be kidding, this bee is like the terminator: "I'll be back". He came and buzzed by my head like four or five times, I had to dodge to miss him. Alexandra said, "Dad, get the towel". I said, "No, Alexandra, this bee deserves to live. I'm a thousand times bigger than him, and I still couldn't kill him".
When life tries to push you down, step on your dream, squash your health, you've got to do like that little bumblebee and get back up again. Outlast what's trying to defeat you. The power in you is greater than any power, that's trying to stop you. The scripture says (proverbs 26:16), "A good person falls seven times but gets back up again". You have come back power, God wouldn't have allowed the adversity, if it's going to finish you off. It's just another step on the way to your destiny.
We see this with Joseph: he was betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, lied about, put in prison — it was one bad break after another. 13 years of injustice, disappointments, surely he would be bitter, discouraged. No, he understood this principle, he just kept standing, kept doing the right thing. One day while he was in prison for something that he didn't do, the guards came and said, the Pharaoh wanted to see him, the leader of the country. He didn't have an appointment with him, he had never met the man, but when it's your time to be promoted, all the forces of darkness cannot hold you back. When you pass this test of outlasting the opposition, the good brakes will come looking for you, the healing will come to you, the right people will find you. It will happen unexpectedly, out of the ordinary.
Joseph went and interpreted the dream for the Pharaoh, he was so impressed, he made Joseph the prime minister of Egypt. When we study Joseph's life, we realize, God wasn't asking him to defeat his brothers, he wasn't asking him to break out of the pit, to escape captivity. God was simply asking him to outlast the opposition, that all had to happen for him to become the minister.
Some of the challenges that you're facing, things that bother you, you can't sleep well, you're wondering: why it's not changing? God is not asking you to overcome it, he's just asking you to outlast it. It's all a part of his plan. It's necessary to get you to your destiny. Yes, the Pharaohs may be stubborn, things may not be improving yet, stay encouraged, God is still in control, he has you in the palm of his hand. What he's promised you is on the way. Now do your part, keep standing, don't be moved by what's not changing, have this stubborn faith. If you'll do this, I believe and declare, like with Joseph, things are going to suddenly turn in your favor, you didn't see it coming. Promotion, healing, vindication, new levels, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.