Joel Osteen - Invite God In To Your Difficulties
I want to talk to you today about "Inviting God in to Your Difficulties". Most of the time we're praying, "God get me out of this challenge, get me out of this trouble at work, get me out of this financial setback". There's nothing wrong with that, but before you get out, you have to invite God in. Sometimes the miracle is not in getting out, it's in what God is going to do in the situation. Instead of just praying, "God get me out", why don't you start praying, "God come in to this hospital room, while I'll take the treatment. Come in to this trouble at work, where the people aren't fair. Come in to this anxiety that I'm dealing with"? What's more powerful than God bringing you out, is when God comes in and begins to change things. He comes in and gives you a favor despite who's trying to push you down, he comes in and gives you strength that you can't explain, grace to outlast what should stop you.
If you're only focused on God bringing you out, then you're going to be disappointed, because God doesn't do things on our timetable. Sometimes it's taking longer than we thought, but when you ask God to come in, you can be at rest. "God, I know you're right here with me, you are ordering my steps and at the right time you'll get me to where I'm supposed to be". You don't have to fight everything, live upset, can't sleep at night - that happens when you're only focused on getting out. God is waiting to come in. When you ask him in, your saying, "God don't just change the circumstances, change me. Help me to not just go through this situation, help me to grow through it, help me to learn, increase my faith, let my character come up higher".
If God delivered us out of everything instantly, we would never reach our highest potential. God works in the trouble, he works in the uncomfortable situations. And sometimes God is not bringing you out yet, because he wants the odds to be against you in a bigger way, so when he brings you out it will be a greater miracle. Now, voices will whisper, "God doesn't even hear your prayers, that's why nothing's changing". The truth is: God is setting you up to show out in your life. When he brings you out, no one will be able to deny that his favor is on you.
God said in Isaiah 43:2, "When you go through the waters, I will be with you, when you go through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you, when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned". It's interesting that God didn't say, "I'll keep you out of every fire, you won't have to face any floods". No, he said, "The challenges will come". There will be adversities and things we don't understand, but the whole key to this verse is when he said, "I will be with you in the fire, in the flood, in the famine". Are you trying to get out of something, that God is going to take you through? Are you fighting the process? "It's not fair, God, I can't take it anymore". Everything will change, if you'll start inviting God into the fire. He's already promised he'll be with you, maybe he's just waiting for your invitation.
The right attitude is, "God, I know you're going to bring me out, but in the meantime I'm asking you to come in to this challenge in my healts, come in to this loss I'm going through, come into this depression that's trying to stop me". When you invite God into your difficulty, you'll feel him breathing in your direction, empowering you, enabling you, favoring you. Is it a greater testimony that kept you out of the fire or that he came with you in the fire and brought you through it?
David said (Psalm 23:4), "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil". Why? "Because you are with me". When you know God is with you, when you've invited him into your situation, you'll have a smile in the middle of the difficulty, you'll have a song of praise in the prison, like Paul and Silas. You won't be complaining about the trouble, worried about when it's gonna work out, you'll be at peace in the midst of the storm. And the reason David didn't live afraid, even though he went through valleys and all kinds of adversities is: he understood this principle to invite God into the trouble. He wasn't just waiting to get out, he knew that God was right there with him. If you're only praying, "God get me out", you'll be discouraged until it changes.
"Joel, I can't enjoy my life. I have this child that's off course, I'm dealing with an illness, my finances are low. When it turns around, then I'll have a good attitude". You're waiting for God to bring you out, while God is waiting for you to invite him in. You have to do like David, "Father, thank you that you are with me right here in this valley, and I'm not gonna live afraid, worried, I may not see a way, but I know you have a way". Instead of just trying to get out of the valley, out of the trouble, out of the fire, if you'll start saying, "God come in, let me feel your presence in the fire, show me your greatness in this trouble", then you'll have a peace that passes understanding, a joy when you could be discouraged, a hope when you should be distraught.
In the scripture three Hebrew teenagers wouldn't bow down to the king's golden idol. The king was so furious, he threatened to have them thrown into a fiery furnace. The teenager said, "King we're not worried, we know our God will deliver us". This made the king even more angry. He had the guards turn up the furnace seven times hotter than normal. Why did God have the king make the fire even hotter? He wanted it to be a bigger miracle, he wanted the odds to be more against them. The fact is: God could have kept them out of the fire, he's God, he parted Red Seas, he opened blind eyes, would have been no problem for God to change the kings mind or to help these teenagers escape. But God doesn't deliver us from every fire. Sometimes he'll take you through the fire. The good news is: God knows how to make you fireproof.
People don't determine your destiny, bad breaks cannot stop God's plan for your life. Sickness, addictions, unfair situations don't have the final say. Now, don't be discouraged because God didn't keep you out of the fire. God doesn't stop every negative situation, he uses adversities to move us into our purpose. We would never know his power if we were never thrown into a fire so to speak, you wouldn't know he was a healer if you never had an illness, we wouldn't know he could move mountains if we never faced big obstacles. Now, quit complaining about what you're up against, it's not a surprise to God. The enemy may have turned up the fire seven times hotter than normal, they didn't do that without God's permission. God is in control not just of your life, he's in control of your enemies.
Instead of complaining about the fire, start inviting him into the fire. When he's with you, you cannot be defeated. You and God are a majority. He is a supernatural God, he's not limited by the fire, by the floods, by the famines. What should take you out, cannot stop your destiny. Instead of complaining about everything that you don't like, if you'll recognize that God allowed the difficulty, I'm not saying that he sent it, but he allowed it because he had a purpose. And the purpose is not so you can live miserable, worried and afraid - his purpose is to show his glory through you, it's so other people can see his power and favor on your life. Without great tests you won't have a great testimony, without big battles we won't see big victories.
These teenagers said, "We know, our God will deliver us". They made this statement of faith. Then they said something even more powerful, "But even if he doesn't, we're still not going to bow down". That's the kind of people that give the enemy a nervous breakdown. When you can say, "God this is what I'm believing for, this is what I'm hoping will happen, but God, even if it doesn't work out my way, I'm still going to give you praise, I'm still going to be good to others, I'm still going to show up Sunday and usher, I'm still gonna pursue my dreams". That attitude gets God's attention, you're saying, "God, not my will, but let your will be done".
But too often we're putting conditions on God and conditions on our prayer, "God, I'll be happy if my boss moves to the backside of mars. When you get him out of my life, then I'll have a good attitude". Have you ever thought, "God may be using that person to do a work in you, to grow you up, to develop your character, to teach you to love those that are not very lovable". Instead of playing, "God get me out of this situation", I'm asking you to start praying, "God, come into this situation, help me to have a good attitude, help me to do the right thing, when the wrong thing is happening". It's very powerful when you can say, "God, if my boss never moves, if he's here until I go to heaven, I know you have given me the strength to overcome, the power to be happy in the middle of this difficulty. And I'm not going to let this person, this sickness, this injustice still my joy". Now you'll grow it, now you're coming up higher, because sometimes God is waiting for us to pass the test, before he brings us out.
The king had the guards tie up the teenager's hands and feet with cords, they threw them into the furnace. It was so hot, that the guards were instantly killed. It looked like this was the end for the teenagers, but people don't have the final say. If it's not your time to go, you're not going to go, nothing can snatch you out of God's hands. In a little while the king came to check on them, he looked through the furnace window and was puzzled. He said (Daniel 3:24-25), "Didn't we throw three men in bound, I see four men loosed and one looks like the Son of God". God may not keep you out of every fire, but don't worry, he'll come into the fire with you, he'll help you overcome what looks impossible.
That illness should be the end, the medical report said you were done, but like with my mother, God came in the fire with you and here you are still going strong. That loved one you lost or that person that walked away, broke your heart, that should have soured your life, but look at you now: still moving forward, doing great things, fulfilling your purpose. How could that be? God came in the fire with you.
The Psalmist said (Psalm 46:1), "God is a very present help in times of trouble". We know that God is always with us, but when you're in difficulties and you invite him in, you're going to feel his presence in a greater way, you're going to be more aware that you're not alone. When you get thrown into the fire so to speak, you won't be bitter, you'll stay in faith knowing, that the fourth man is right there with you, the God who controls the fire, the God who he who restores, who pays you back for the injustice is right there, watching over you, protecting you, ordering your steps.
Moses went through a difficult situation. He didn't know how it was going to work out, I'm sure he was tempted to worry and think about how big his enemies were, but God said to him in Exodus 33:14, "Moses, I will go with you, I will give you rest, everything will be fine for you". Maybe you're facing some challenges, life hasn't turned out the way you thought. You asked God to keep you out of the fire, but it didn't happen your way. Now, you're wondering how you're going to beat the illness, how your family's going to be restored? God is saying to you what he said to Moses: I'm going with you, you're not in that fire by yourself, I have the in the palm of my hand, I'm fighting your battles. That obstacle may be too much for you, but it is not too much for our God. Right now he is pushing back forces of darkness, he's keeping the fire from burning you, he's not letting those waters drown you. He's your protector, your deliverer, your way-maker, your healer, your provider. You don't have to do this on your own. You don't have to figure everything out. You're not going to know all the details, you have to walk by faith and not by sight, knowing that he's right there with you, that he's promised "Everything is going to be all right for you".
When the king had the teenager's hands and feet tied up, they could have panicked, been stressed out, but they understood this principle that God doesn't keep us out of every fire, but he comes into the fire with us. They didn't fall apart, they stayed in peace. But I can imagine, how different this outcome could have been, if they would have complained, been bitter, discouraged - maybe we wouldn't be talking about them, maybe the fourth man would have never shown up. How we approach our difficulties, makes all the difference. Whether we're going to come through them, not burn, without the smell of smoke, like the teenagers or whether we're going to get stuck in them and miss God's best. You may be in the fire now, but this is not the time to complain, it's not the time to just pray, "God, get me out". More than ever you need to start saying, "Father, thank you that you are in this fire with me. Thank you that no weapon formed against me is going to prosper. God, I am not going to worry, I trust you, I believe what you promise, that everything will be fine for me".
Here's how amazing God is. The king said, "Didn't we throw three men in bound? I see four men loosed". When the teenagers came out, the only thing the fire burned were the cords that were holding them back. Their hair was fine, skin was fine, clothes were fine, just the cords. When you come out of that difficulty, the only things that are going to be gone are the limitations, that are holding you back. The fire is going to burn off the fear, burn off negative mindsets, burn off relationship that were pulling you down, you're going to come out free, bold, confident, healthy, promoted, victorious, ready to fulfill your destiny.
I know this man, he is an executive at a large company. There were several people in management above him, that didn't like him. He's very talented and they were intimidated by him. They kept doing their best to keep him down. He was concerned and trying to figure out what he should do and how it was all going to work out. For several months he would come down for prayer and tell me how it wasn't getting any better and wondering when God was going to change it. It was putting a strain on his marriage, physically he was starting to get rundown. I told him what I'm telling you, "You're just praying: 'God get me out'. You need to start praying: 'God, come into this difficulty. God, give me the grace to bloom where I'm planted, to have a good attitude even though it's not fair. God, show me your favor, despite who's trying to push me down'".
He changed his attitude and quit worrying about when it was going to improve, knowing that God was right there with him in the fire, fighting his battles. I saw him a couple years later, he looked as peaceful as can be, had a big smile, great attitude. I thought everything had turned around. He said, "No, Joel, the same people are still there, doing the same things. They haven't changed, but I've changed. I don't let them upset me anymore, I don't live stressed out, I enjoy my life, despite how they're treating me. I'm doing the right thing, even though they never give me credit". That's passing the test, that's showing God you're not just going to be happy if he brings you out, but you're going to shine, even if it doesn't happen your way. You're going to be your best, even if it's not changing on your timetable. That's inviting God into the fire. Not just, "God, get me out", but, "God, give me the strength to be here with a good attitude".
He was in the lobby about three months ago. This was three years after he first came down for prayer, he told how the company had just been sold. The owners got rid of all the management team, except for him. He was the only executive they kept. He said, "Joel, now I'm in charge, I'm running the whole company". God knows how to vindicate you, he knows how to bring you out of the difficulty. The question is: are you inviting him into the difficulty? When you're in the fire, you can complain, be discouraged, "God, it's not fair". Try a different approach, "God, come into this fire with me. God, help me to do the right thing, change me where I need to change, burn off things that are holding me back". You have to shine where you are. Have a song of praise, when you could be complaining. Keep a smile on your face, when you should be discouraged. I know it's not easy, but keep reminding yourself, the Creator of the universe, the Most High God is right there with you. He sees what you're up against, he knows what's not fair, the hurts, the disappointments, the lonely nights. When you dig your heels in and do the right thing, you will feel a supernatural strength, a power to do what you could not do on your own.
This is what happened with Joseph. In the scripture, as a teenager he was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery. He worked for a high-ranking military official in Egypt, named Potiphar. Joseph in one sense had every right to be bitter, angry, his dreams were shattered, he was in a foreign country, he didn't know anyone. But you never read where Joseph complained, he just kept being his best where he was. He was so exceptional, that Potiphar put him in charge of his whole house. Genesis 39:2 says, "The Lord was with Joseph, he was successful in everything that he did". Joseph did what I'm asking us to do: he didn't just pray God get me out of this trouble and I'll have a good attitude. He said, "God, come into this trouble. Help me to shine, help me to stand out".
The next verse says, "Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph". Can people see that God is with you in the fire? Are you being your best, even though it's unfair? Are you shining, when you could be complaining? Later Joseph was falsely accused and put in prison for something, that he didn't do. Verse 21 says, "But the Lord was with Joseph there too". In the prison, in the betrayal, in the injustice. It's significant, that the scripture tells us three times, just a few verses from each other, that the Lord was with Joseph. We got it the first time, but God wanted us to see this principle, that when you invite him into the fire, you're going to have a favor that pushes you up when life tries to push you down. A strength to excel, when you could be slacking off. A power to overcome, what should stop you.
After 13 years of being in the fire, God brought Joseph out, made him second-in-command of Egypt. You may be in a situation now, that you don't think is ever going to change, but what God started in your life, he's going to finish. Now it may not happen on your timetable, instead of just praying, "God, get me out", being frustrated because it's taken longer than you thought, why don't you start inviting God in, "Father, thank you that you are with me in this battle with cancer, you are with me in this struggle with the addiction, you are with me in this divorce, in this breakup". When you invite God in, you will feel his presence in a new.
Way Mark chapter 4 Jesus said to the disciples, "Let us cross to the other side of the lake". They all got in the boat, but as they were sailing, a huge storm arose. The waves were crashing over the boat, the winds so strong. The disciples started to panic, thinking they were about to die. Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat. They ran as fast as they could, "Jesus, wake up, don't you care that we're about to die"? Jesus stood up and spoke to the storm. Suddenly everything calmed down. Now, these disciples had seen Jesus perform great miracles, heal the lepers, raise a little boy from the dead. When Jesus said, "We're going to the other side", you would think they would be confident, nothing for us to worry about, the Son of God is in our boat, he just said we're going across. But even though Jesus was with, them they still panicked. They didn't realize: the winds and waves couldn't stop the God who created the winds and waves. The creation couldn't stop the Creator. They had no reason to be afraid, the Son of God was in the storm with them.
I wonder if you're doing like them, worried about something even though God is on your boat. He's already promised you, that he would restore health back into you, that you would lend and not borrow, that as for you in your house you would serve the Lord. Now, the circumstances may look the opposite, the medical reports not good, your loved ones off course. It's easy to live worried, upset, but can I encourage you? The Most High God is on your boat. Those winds cannot stop you, the sickness, the injustice, the people they cannot keep you from your destiny. You might as well relax, everything is going to be fine for you. Sure the waves may be big, but you have an advantage, the God who controls the universe is right there with you. Now, do your part, start thanking him that he's fighting your battles, start shining where you are, being your best in spite of the difficulties. Don't wait till it changes, you have to invite him in, before he brings you out. If you'll do this, I believe and declare, like these teenagers, that fire is not going to burn you. You're about to see the fourth man show up, unusual things are about to happen, unusual favor, unusual healings, unusual breakthroughs, unusual promotion, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.