Joel Osteen - The Secret to Solving Problems
I want to talk to you today about The Secret to Solving Problems. We all face challenges and things were believing will turn around: a child that's off course, a sickness we're dealing with or a dream that seems impossible. We prayed, we believed, but nothing is changing. Sometimes God won't allow you to solve your own problem, the secret is you have to help someone else solve their problem. You have to take the focus off yourself and be good to others in your time of need. As you sow that seed, that's what's going to bring the harvest that you're waiting for.
You'll be tempted to think, "I can't help them, Joel, got my own problem. I need to spend my energy trying to fix my situation". But if you'll take your hands off of your problem and go be good to someone else, God will put his hands on your problem and make things happen that you couldn't make happen. While you're working on their situation, God is working on your situation.
A friend of mine struggled with his teenage son for many years. It was like they were on different wavelengths. He tried his best to be loving and understanding, but they just couldn't get along. Invariably there would be an argument, everything was so contentious. He had prayed about it, quoted scripture, asked God to help him, but nothing was getting any better. He was the coach of the neighborhood baseball team, there was a young man on the team, that came from a single-parent family and was struggling in his schoolwork. When this father learned about it, he took that young man under his wing. He started bringing him home from baseball practice with his son, and he would help him do his schoolwork. He tutored him, he mentored him and became a father figure in his life.
This young man looked up to him, admired him greatly. About six months after he started doing this, his relationship with his own son began to improve. They got closer, started doing things together. Today they're the best of friends, you can't pull them apart. The secret to his problem being solved wasn't in praying more, wasn't in working harder, it was in helping solve someone else's problem. The scripture says, "When job prayed for his friends, his healing quickly came". Don't you know how many times job prayed for himself, when he wasn't feeling well? "God, please restore health back into me. Please free me from this pain", and that's good that's releasing your faith, I'm simply saying don't stop there, because there are times when your breakthrough is connected to helping someone else get their breakthrough.
Now maybe you've been praying diligently, standing in faith so strong, but nothing is improving - now it's time to go be a blessing. Look around: where is a need you can meet? Go pray for that neighbor, that's under the weather. Go encourage that co-worker, that's struggling. Go help that friend accomplish their dream. As you're helping others, you may not be able to see it, but God is helping you. He's lining up the promotion, the healing, the breakthroughs. You can't sew a seed without reaping a harvest.
When I was 10 years old, Lakewood was in an auditorium that held a thousand people. The church was growing, we needed to expand the building. My father asked the congregation to be praying about what they could give toward it. There was a small Spanish church, about six blocks down the road from Lakewood. They had started construction on a new building, it was an auditorium to hold a hundred people. My father noticed that their construction had stopped, for several months no one was working. He didn't know anyone there, he had never met the pastor, but one afternoon leaving Lakewood he pulled in and talked with some people. They told how they started the construction and had complications, it was costing more than they thought, now they had run out of money, the building was just sitting there indefinitely.
Well my father was believing to raise funds to expand Lakewood. We needed the finances, but he told the congregation, instead of giving money for our building he was going to take up an offering for their building. Lakewood gave the finances, it was enough to finish their auditorium. In the natural that didn't make sense. We needed the funds, we had the problem, but my father understood this principle - when you helped solve somebody else's problem, God will help solve your problem, it's not always going to make sense. Proverbs 11:24 says, "It is possible to give away and have more, it is also possible to hold on too tightly and lose everything". God's ways are not our ways. Everything in you is going to say, "Focus on getting out of my problem, accomplish my dreams". "Once this problem is solved, Joel, then I'll help others". No, helping others is what's going to cause that problem to turn around. Giving your time, energy, resources - that's what's going to open the windows of heaven and cause your dreams to come to pass.
You would have thought, "Giving away those funds would have kept Lakewood from expanding". It was just the opposite. The funds came in for the foundation and we paid it off. Funds came in for the steel, the seats, the walls, the lights - the building was built debt-free, no complications, no delays. And not just that building, over the years my father built building after building, expansion after expansion, he paid cash every time, he never lacked resources, never lacked the funds. I believe it all started by helping that Spanish church. He had a need, he had a problem, he didn't just pray, he didn't just believe, he helped someone else solve their problem.
When you make sacrifices to help other people's dream come to pass, God will make sure your dream comes to pass. Don't stay focused only on yourself, "My goals, my problems, my trouble at work", get your mind off yourself and go be a blessing, sow a seed. Doesn't have to be finances, you can sow encouragement, go to the hospital and visit that loved one, cheer them up. Call that friend and speak life into their dreams. Take that elderly neighbor dinner each night, make an extra plate for them. The scripture says (Proverbs 3:27), "When it's in your power to do good, don't withhold it from others". That means when you know you can be a blessing, you have the resources to help that person in need, you can teach them the talents you've learned, don't put it off. When you help solve their problem, you're not just being good to them, you are setting a miracle in motion for yourself. When you show favor, the scripture says, you will receive favor.
Here's the beauty: when you help others, what you give is going to come back to you, but not in the same proportion - press down, shaken together, running over. My father helped that Spanish church that one time, but the blessings from that obedience are still coming today. When you're in difficult times, more than ever you need to look for opportunities to do good. When your dream seems impossible, find somebody else and help their dream come to pass. It's good to pray, to believe, to work hard, but there are some things that are not going to happen if you're only focused on yourself. As you bless others, God will bless you. As you show favor, favor will come to you.
The last Sunday that we had services at our old location, I was driving down the road that final time, leaving the services, feeling so grateful for all that God had done. My mind was flooded with good memories and overwhelmed with where God was taking us. I looked up and there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky, it's as if God was smiling on us, saying "This chapter is over, but another great chapter is just beginning". About that time I passed the small Spanish church, that my father and the Lakewood members had helped over 40 years earlier. Their little sign outside said, "Thank you Lakewood for giving us our building".
My mind flashed back to that time when I was a little boy. I wondered: would I be going to the Compaq Center, if my father had not helped them in their time of need? Would I be seeing the favor, the growth, the influence. That he could have thought, "We got big problems, we need it more than they do, we have all these challenges", but he didn't withhold the good when he had the opportunity. Much of this comes down to trusting God. "Joel, I can't help somebody else, I've got my own problems. I can't give away what I need from my dreams, I'm counting on that".
When you give your time, your energy, your resources, your talent, you will never end up with less. That is a seed you're sowing, that's going to keep coming back to you. I am reaping a harvest from seeds of obedience, that my parents sowed 50 years ago. When you live a life of generosity, making sacrifices for others to come up higher, that's not only going to impact you for the good, it's going to impact your children, your grandchildren, those seeds are going to keep on producing.
2 Kings 19, king Hezekiah was on the throne of Israel. He was one of David's descendants the Assyrian army had surrounded the people of Judah and were about to attack. They were much bigger and stronger, Hezekiah didn't stand a chance. Isaiah the prophet told him, "The Assyrian army will not enter Jerusalem. They will not shout their arrows over the city walls, but they would return home in defeat". That night the angel of the Lord destroyed 185.000 of the enemy troops. The rest of them went home, just like Isaiah prophesied. Hezekiah was so thrilled. I can imagine he wondered, "Why God blessed me such a way? Why he showed him so much favor". Isaiah said in verse 34, "Hezekiah, God didn't do this because of anything you did. He protected you for the sake of his servant David".
This was three hundred and five years after David died, yet those seeds of obedience, seeds of being good to people were still producing in their family line. Every time you help someone in need, it's not only going to help you, but you are storing up blessings for your children. Every time you help solve someone's problem, every time you make sacrifices, so they can go further you're sowing a seed so not only you can go further, but those that come after you in your family line to go further. Like Hezekiah, they will see favor, blessings, protection, because you made decisions that honored God.
In the scripture Joseph had a big problem. As a teenager God put a dream in his heart, that he would be in leadership and do great things. But his brothers were jealous of him. They didn't like his big dream, they threw him into a pit. They were going to tell their father that he was killed by a wild animal. They ended up selling Joseph into slavery. He was working for a man named Potiphar in Egypt. Even though Joseph had a big problem, even though his dreams had been shattered, what was he doing? Sitting around in self-pity, blaming God? No in the midst of that problem, he started helping Potiphar with his problem. He ran Potiphar's whole household, he organized all the staff, made sure the grounds were clean, the property protected, the supplies in place.
Instead of focusing on his problem, he was being good to someone else. At one point Joseph was falsely accused and put in prison. Surely now he would be bitter, depressed, but in the prison some of his cellmates had a problem. They had a dream and didn't understand what it meant. Joseph didn't say, "Too bad for you. I'm depressed, I don't like being here". He said, "I can interpret dreams, let me help you with your problem". He interpreted their dreams. One of the cellmates was released. Two years later the Pharaoh, the leader of the country had a dream and didn't understand what it meant. The former cellmate said, "I know someone that can interpret dreams".
Joseph came before the Pharaoh, told him how the dream had to do with the food supply, how there were years of famine coming and how important it was to store up the grain, get everything organized and prepared before the drought. The Pharaoh looked at Joseph and said, "You're the right man for the job. Nobody can do it better for you". He made Joseph second-in-command of Egypt. What was Joseph doing for Pharaoh? Solving a problem, strategically getting everything lined up, using his expertise, his talents, his skills to help the people that were holding him captive. Joseph was so excellent, that other nations came to study his operation.
I'm sure that Joseph was grateful to be out of prison, to have this influential position, but deep down he still missed his family. He never thought he would see his father again, whom he loves so much. He had already accepted that it was too late. But as Joseph was helping Pharaoh with his problem, back home in Israel his brothers were loading up the camels, about to head to Egypt to try to find food. They had heard the only place that had the supplies was at the palace, where Joseph was in charge. Notice, what God was doing. While Joseph was working on Pharaoh's problem, God was working on Joseph's problem. He couldn't see it at the time. Everything looked just the same, but what Joseph didn't know was the camels were coming, his brothers were on the way.
I can imagine one evening, there was a knock on the palace gates, the guards looked outside, saw this caravan of camels. They asked the people what they wanted? They said, they were looking for food. One of the guards went to Joseph, said, "Some people just arrived, they want to purchase grain". It was late in the day, Joseph was tired, he was about to say, "Tell them to leave, don't bother us", but for some reason he changed his mind and went out to meet them. He couldn't believe it, it was his brothers. You would think he would want to get revenge, the truth is he was so grateful to see them, he was overwhelmed with emotion.
They didn't recognize him. Eventually he told them who he was and they all wept together. He asked if their father was still alive? They said that he was. All those years Joseph spent helping other people with their problems, doing the right thing, even when it wasn't fair. That whole time God was watching. God sees your faithfulness, he sees you helping others when you need help. You encouraging that friend, when they need encouragement. You praying for that neighbor that's not well, when you're fighting an illness. May seem like nothing is happening, but God is working. What you can't see is the camels are being loaded up. What you thought would never happen is still on the way.
Joseph's father and whole family came to Egypt to live with Joseph. His father thought Joseph was dead. Joseph thought that his father had already passed. But now, the two of them were embracing, weeping, it was a dream come true, Joseph's problem was finally solved. It didn't happen the way Joseph thought, he didn't go back home to Israel, but his family was able to come to Egypt and enjoy all the blessings and honor, that God had given Joseph. But none of this would have happened, if Joseph would have been ingrown. "I'm not gonna help this man Potiphar, had my own problems. I'm not gonna help these prisoners, they've never done anything for me. I'm not gonna interpret Pharaoh's dream, use my expertise to run the food supply, he needs to do something for me".
Joseph understood this principle: when you're working on someone else's problem, God is working on your problem. You may think that you could never get well, never break that addiction, never accomplish your dream, it's been too long. But if you'll do like Joseph and just keep being good to people, keep helping solve their problems, keep helping their dreams to come to pass - what you can't see is the camels are coming. What God started, he's going to finish. It's going to surprise you, there's going to be a knock on the door, something that you weren't expecting. Like when Joseph's brothers showed up at the palace unexpectedly, healing is going to show up for you unexpectedly, freedom from addictions unexpectedly, suddenly the right person find you, suddenly that door of opportunity opens.
You thought it was too late, but the whole time you were helping others, the camels were in row. God has not forgotten about you, those seeds you've sown have not gone unnoticed. Those times you've come to church and served in the kids ministry while you had problems at home, you sang in the choir, you prayed for others when you weren't feeling well. You could have stayed at home, "God when you do something for me, then I'll be my best", but you just kept being your best, making sacrifices to help others, giving away what you needed for your dreams - get ready for some surprises, get ready for God to show out in your life, get ready for something that you haven't seen. It's going to be unusual, out of the ordinary and it's going to thrust you into your destiny.
When I worked for my father here at Lakewood those 17 years doing the television production, my goal was to make my father look the best that I could. When I started I didn't have a lot of experience, but I found the best lighting consultants, the best camera people. The first year we hired an older gentleman, that used to produce the "Today Show's". I was with him every minute, he trained me how to put the program together. I would spend hours trying to improve the lighting and making sure the stage looked the best that it possibly could. At one point we were going to remodel the platform area. We had some top designers helping us. We were going to make a new podium as well. So I had them mock-up a podium, just temporary, so we could check the size and see how it fit my father.
He came down and stood behind it, and we looked at it on camera and made several adjustments. I wanted it to fit him just right. I wanted the stage area to be as perfect as can be. When we finished the remodel, it looks so beautiful on camera. I was so proud, it made my father shine. A year later my father went to be with the Lord. I never dreamed one day I would be standing behind that podium. One day I would be the one on that beautiful platform. I thought I was building it for my father, really I was building it for me. When you're helping other people, you think you're doing them a favor - really you're doing yourself a favor. Because when you help others shine, God will make sure that you shine. When you help someone else rise higher, God will cause you to rise higher. You are sowing a seed for where you're going.
My friends Rob and Laura Koke, pastors of a great church in Austin, Texas. Years ago their sixteen-year-old son was killed in an automobile accident. It wasn't easy, but they didn't get bitter, they didn't give up on life, they kept moving forward. Eventually they started a charity in his name called "The Caleb Foundation". They built hospitals, orphanages, schools, done great work all over the world. At one of their orphanages in Haiti, called "Caleb's House" there were some young men that grew up there and were about to graduate from high school. They decided to bring a few of them to Austin, to be interns at their church. One of the young men that came noticed Rob and Laura's daughter, they started dating ended up falling in love. A few years ago their daughter married this young man, that grew up in the orphanage that they started. All birthed out of the loss of their son.
What if Rob and Laura wouldn't have reached out to help others in their time of need? They could have thought, "Well, I could have been bitter, and certainly man, God, we lost a loved one, well this isn't right, this isn't fair". Instead their attitude was, "Yes, we're hurting, but we know, when we help others, God you'll help us. We know, when we work on their problems, you'll work on our problems". They started sowing seeds, taking care of orphans, giving an education to the less fortunate. Being good to people without expecting anything in return. When they started that orphanage, they never dreamed that their son-in-law would grow up there. They never dreamed that he would marry their daughter and become a part of their family. When you help others, you may think you're just being good to them, but you don't know what God is up to. You can't help someone without God being good back to you. You don't know the blessings and favor that are connected to you helping someone else rise.
But I wonder what we miss, when we live ingrown. We only focus on what we've lost, how we've been hurt, "God, I've got this big problem, you got to help me". Go, be a blessing, your miracle is waiting for you as you help others. And sometimes the reason you can't solve your problem is because what you need is found in solving someone else's problem. If you will help them succeed, like with Rob and Laura, your son-in-law will show up, things will happen unexpectedly, that you didn't see coming. I know, many of you have been doing this, going out of your way to be good to people, making sacrifices to help solve their problems - get ready, the camels are coming. What you're believing for is already in row. I believe and declare, those seeds you've been sowing are about to come back to you, press down, shaken together, running over. It's going to be more than you can imagine. Promotion, healing, breakthroughs, the right people, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.