Joel Osteen - Travel Steadily
I want to talk to you today about Travel Steadily. We all have things that we're waiting on: waiting for a dream to come to pass, waiting for health to improve, waiting to meet the right person. When it's taken longer than we thought, we don't see anything changing, it's easy to get discouraged and think that it's not meant to be. But David said in Psalm 37:34, "Don't be impatient for the Lord to act. Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you and give you the land". Just because it hasn't happened yet does it mean that it's not going to happen. What God promised you is still in route. The waiting period is simply a test. Are you going to get discouraged and quit believing? Or are you going to keep traveling steadily, keep praying, keep thanking, God keep being your best at work, keep being good to other people?
There's power in doing the right thing consistently. You're not move but what's not changing, you consistently have a good attitude. You're not up one day and down two days, you consistently in a good mood. You don't work hard for a month and then slack off the next month, you consistently excellent. Everything may not be perfect, you're dealing with challenges, but you're not complaining, you consistently thanking God, consistently declaring his promises, consistently expecting his favor. That's what it means to travel steadily. God never promised things would turn around instantly, that promises would come to pass in 2 weeks - there will be a waiting period. Don't be impatient, God rewards faithful people, people that keep doing the right thing.
The only thing that's holding some people back is the consistency. What would happen if you would consistently get to work on time, consistently treat your spouse with respect, consistently exercise or consistently put God first place? When you're consistent, you're not ruled by your feelings. Feelings will be up one day and down the next, feelings would've tell people off, feelings would eat the whole gallon of ice-cream, feelings would sit around in self pity. Don't let those feelings run your life. You have a destiny to fulfill, an assignment for you to accomplish. You have to put your foot down and say, "Feelings, you are not going to control me, I'm in control. I'm going to make decisions that honor God. I'm going to do the right thing when it's hard, I'm going to go to work when I don't feel like. It I'm gonna treat these people with respect even though they don't deserve it". If you will keep traveling steadily, being consistent, you're going to see God show out in your life.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:28, "We should always be abounding in the work of the Lord". What can you say about yourself that's always? Are you always worried? Always late? Always hot tempered? Why don't you change those always? If you're consistent in the wrong areas, it will keep you from your destiny. I know people, their circumstances aren't perfect, they have challenges, but they're always joyful, always encouraging, always at church, always helping others. They've made this choice that they're going to travel steadily. God has awesome things in your future, but the only way you'll see them is if you keep being consistent, not move but what's not happening, not discouraged because it's taking longer, not slacking off because you don't see any sign of it.
When you travel steadily you're going to come into blessings and favor because of your faithfulness. Not because you have a great talent, great courage, great faith, but because you keep doing the right thing. Many of you have been doing this, you consistently made decisions that honor God, sacrificing to raise those children, putting your own dream own hold. You stay faithful in that marriage that's difficult, you've been your best at that job going the extra mile. You've done the right thing, but you haven't seen what's in your heart. Your time is coming. God is about to do something unusual, promotion that trust you to a new level. That problem you've struggled with for years is about to suddenly turn around. It's going to happen sooner than you think.
Because you stayed faithful, consistent, the scripture says: God is going to give you the land. You're not going to have to make it happen, blessings are going to find you, the right people are going to track you down. Healing is going to come knocking at your door. Don't be impatient for God to act. Those dreams he's placed in your heart are still on the schedule. Those promises he's whispered to you in the night, they're still in your future. And sometimes the reason it's taking so long is what God has for you is bigger than you ever imagined, he's getting you prepared to carry the weight of the blessing, the weight of the influence. As you keep traveling steadily, you getting stronger, your faith is growing, your character is being developed.
This is what David did. At 17 years old he was out in the shepherd's fields taking care of his father sheep's, just minding his own business, when he was called in to his father's house. The prophet Samuel chose him out of his 7 other brothers to become the next king of Israel. What's interesting is: David didn't go to the palace that day, he didn't step into leadership, they didn't put a royal robe on him. He went back to the shepherd's fields. When God gives you a promise there will always be a waiting period. What we do while we're waiting would determine whether the promise will come to pass. If we wait discouraged, upset, "Why is this taking so long", we're going to get stuck where we are.
David was anointed, but he wasn't appointed. He had to go through this season of proving, a season of testing. Will you do the right thing when you're not getting your way? Will you keep serving others when you know you have more in you? David could've slacked off, taking the easy way out, nobody was watching him in the shepherd's fields, but David understood this principle: to see promises come to pass you have to keep traveling steadily, you have to do the right thing when nobody is watching. You have to be your best when you're not getting the credit. You have to thank God even though doors are not opening.
Month after month David kept taking care of those sheep, fighting off wild animals, making sure they were fed and protected. His father didn't invite him into the house when Samuel first came, David didn't get bitter, he didn't have a chip on his shoulder, he shook it off and kept traveling forward. His brothers made fun of him when he took in their lunch, they tried to make him feel small - David didn't take the bait, he walked away. After David defeated Goliath, king Saul was jealous and tried to kill David, chase them through the desert, it was unfair, but David didn't try to get revenge. He could have killed Saul, but he wouldn't do it. He wasn't impatient for God to act. He knew, if he would keep traveling steadily, doing the right thing, God would give him the throne. 13 years after David was anointed king Saul was killed in a battle, and David became king.
When God puts a promise in your heart, no matter who tries to stop you, no matter how big the giants are, no matter how unfair it is or how long it's been. If you just keep traveling steadily, passing the tests, not bitter because people did you wrong, not giving up because it's taken a long time, not slacking off because things aren't improving, then like David God is going to give you the land, he's going to move the wrong people out of the way, he'll give you favor to defeat giants, he'll make ways when you don't see a way. The key is: don't be impatient. It may not happen as fast as you would like, while you're waiting that's a test. David had to prove to God that he would be faithful taking care of sheep, before God we trust him to take care of his people.
Those times were you doing the right thing, but nothing is improving - that's a proving season. You have to show God that you're not going to get discouraged, you're not going to give up on your dream, you're not going to let what didn't work out calls you to lose your passion. Like David, you may know you're anointed, God has put promises in your heart, he spoken things to you, but you're not a pointed yet, you in that season when you're in the shepherds field, nothing is happening. "God, you said you would restore health unto me, but I'm still struggling with this sickness. You said I would lend and not borrow, but I can barely get ahead. You said you'd give me beauty for these ashes, but none of doors are opening".
It's easy to get discouraged, but if you want to go from anointed to appointed, you have to keep thanking God when you don't see anything happening, praising when you could be complaining, coming to church when you feel like staying home, being good to people that are not being good to you. If you're not be moved about what's not working out, but you keep doing the right thing, then you're going to go from anointed to appointed, you're going to come out of the shepherds field into the fullness of what God has in store.
My father started Lakewood in 1959 with 90 people. He traveled overseas and held meetings with thousands of people, seen great favor, but he knew he was supposed to come back and pastor these 90 people. God put a big dream in his heart: he believe one day Lakewood would have thousands and impact the world. My father was a great ministry, a great leader, but what's interesting is Lakewood didn't grow. Year after year went by, still 90 people. My father could have been discouraged, "God, you put the bigger things in my heart, why am I not see an increase"? Instead he preached to those 90 people like he was preaching to thousands. Not just once a week, Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, he was faithful. He wasn't moved by what wasn't changing, he didn't get sour because he wasn't seen increase. He just kept traveling steadily, consistently doing the right thing.
In 1973 it was like God opened up the faucet, people started coming to Lakewood from all over the city. It grew to a church of many thousands. But those 13 years my father didn't see any growth, they were very important years, they were years of testing, years of proving. God was seeing what my father was made up, what was he going to do when things weren't going his way? What kind of attitude would he have when he wasn't see increase? Would he get discouraged, give up, try something else? If you're not faithful in the wilderness, how can God trust you to be faithful in the Promised Land?
Maybe you're doing the right thing but not seeing any growth. You're praying, believing, working hard, but things aren't improving. If my father was here, he would tell you: don't get discouraged by what's not changing, don't slack off because it hasn't happened yet. Keep doing the right thing consistently. God has not forgotten about you. What he's promised is still in your future. Pass the faithfulness tests, prove to him that you're not going to quit, you're not going to get sour, you're not going to get talked out of it. If you'll keep traveling steadily, God will give you the land. It's going to be easier than you though. Yes, the waiting can be difficult, but when you come into favor, things are going to fall into place: promotion, healing, increase that will thrust you to a new level.
A while back there was this challenge I was dealing with, it had to do with our ministry and what we were going to do in the future. I couldn't figure out how it was going to work out. I studied it, made phone calls, got other people's advice, but there were still no solution. Every time it came to my mind it kind of bothered me, I thought what are we going to do? I was tempted to live stressed and worried. Finally I said, "God, I'm turning this over to you. I can't make this work out my way, but I know you already have a solution. So I'm not going to live uptight, I would just keep being my best, honoring you". Every time I was tempted to worry, "Father, thank you that my life is in your hands. Thank you that you're making my crooked places straight".
Sometimes we're frustrated because we're trying to control things that only God can control. We're trying to figure something out that there is no answer to right now. That's when we get frustrated, can't sleep at night. The good news is, God doesn't ask us to figure everything out. You have to know what's your job, and what's God's job. Our job is to believe, our job is to thank God, our job is to walk in obedience. The scripture says, "God will work out his plan for our lives". God's job is to work things out that we can't work out. You not only your own, the Creator of the universe is working out his plan for your life. His job is to open doors we can open. His job is to part Red Seas. His job is to heal sick bodies. His job is to make things happen, that we can't make happen. Are you frustrated because you're trying to do God's job? Take the pressure off. You don't have to make everything happen, you just have to keep traveling steadily, staying faithful, being good to people, keeping God first place.
About 2 months ago I was at the church, and a staff member was passing by. He said, "I meant to tell ya that thing that we were working on, we figured it out". I said, "What do you mean"? He said, "I'll show you". I went in and looked at it, it was perfect could have been any better. I thought this was going to be an ongoing challenge, where it would take all this extra effort and energy on my part, but then without me even working on it things fell into place. I never dreamed it would be that easy. That's what the scripture says: if you'll keep traveling steadily, God will give you the land. That means you don't have to struggle, strive, manipulate things, try to force it to work out. It's going to be easier than you think. Things are going to fall into place, the right doors open, the right people show up, the school called you with the scholarship, the medical report suddenly turns around.
In the scripture, Joseph was engaged to a young lady named Mary. Then angel appeared to her and said she was going to have a baby without knowing a man, and they were to name him Jesus. You can imagine how Joseph must've felt when Mary told him she was pregnant not with his baby, but with the Messiah. I'm sure he thought "Yeah, right". He was going to quietly call off the engagement, but that night an angel appeared to him in a dream, he told Joseph, that what Mary said was true, that he was to go ahead with the marriage. Joseph could have backed out, "Thank God, I didn't sign up for this. I don't want my reputation ruined. Find somebody else". But Joseph did what the angel said.
It was prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. The Roman emperor decided to take a census, everyone had to go to their home town. Joseph was from Bethlehem, he loaded up Mary on a donkey, she was 9 months pregnant, they traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Would be one thing if this was across town, but this was a 90 mile journey, it would take about 10 days. I'm seeing what it's like for Victoria to be pregnant, how uncomfortable, especially toward the end, her back was hurting, feet swelling. I can imagine telling her at 9 months pregnant, "Honey, to fulfill prophecy, we have to get on a donkey and go 90 miles". I think I would be hearing "Welcome to heaven".
Sometimes God asks us to do things that are difficult. Mary could've said, "I'm not getting on that donkey, it's too bumpy, my feet hurt, you go by yourself", but you never read were Mary complained. You never read where Joseph was sour. They just kept traveling steadily, doing what God asked them to do, day after day getting on the donkey, dealing with the heat, finding a place to sleep at night. God only spoke to them one time. This whole trip 90 miles God never said anything. Would have been much easier if the angel would have come back and said, "You're doing great. Keep going to Bethlehem, you're right on track".
It's easy to follow God when you hearing speaking, you have clear direction, things are going your way. But the real test is: how do you respond when God is silent, you don't hear anything? You're doing the right thing, but it's not improving. You're being your best, but doors aren't opening. Months have gone by, maybe years and you don't hear anything. Here's the key: keep doing the last thing God told you to do. Keep being consistent, keep being faithful.
Joseph and Mary finally arrived at Bethlehem. I can imagine it was late at night, Mary was getting close to having the baby. Joseph walked up to the inn, the hotel. He said, "Mary, wait here, I'll go arrange a room". The innkeeper said, "I'm sorry, sir, we're full, we have no more room". Joseph could have thought, "God, you said come to Bethlehem. You said this was your baby. Why is nothing working out"? Instead, Joseph went back out, told Mary to get back on the donkey. They were tired, disappointed, uncomfortable, but they just kept traveling steadily.
God rewards faithful people, people that don't give up, people that don't let a disappointment cause them to be sour, people that don't let a setback, a loss, a delay to stop their destiny. When things happen that we don't understand, our attitude should be, "Father, thank you that you are working out your plan for my life. You are ordering my steps. You are opening doors that no man can shut. Thank you that you'll get me to where I'm supposed to be". Don't let a bad break, a delay, a pandemic, a person that did you wrong cause you to quit believing for your dreams, and quit pursuing what God put in your heart.
You are full of can-do power. The same spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in you. You are not weak, you are a warrior. Now, dig your heels in and be consistent. Not just when everything is going your way, not just when there's room at the end, business is flourishing, but when the door closes, when the contract doesn't go through, when the journey is longer than you thought. God is looking for people that are determined, people that have stamina. You can't be weak and reach your destiny. You can't be half-hearted and become who you were created to be. God will be silent at times, you don't hear anything, things are not improving, you're on that donkey so to speak, doors aren't opening, what are you to? Do keep being faithful, keep getting to work on time, keep singing in the choir, keep being good to those neighbors, keep thanking God when you feel like complaining.
If it was going to happen instantly, you wouldn't need any faith. Don't be impatient for God to act. Just because the inn is full doesn't mean there's not a place for your baby to be born. Just because you've had a setback: somebody walked away, the medical report isn't good, doesn't mean that your dream is not going to come to pass. What God promised you cannot be stopped by people, by circumstances, by bad breaks. God wouldn't have allowed the end to be full if he didn't have something better. My question is: are you going to keep traveling steadily? Are you going to keep believing, keep praying, keep doing the right thing?
Joseph and Mary packed up, got back on the donkeys. Disappointed, but still moving forward. Tired, hungry, back hurting, but still traveling steadily. Joseph looked up and saw this old barn where they kept animals. Wasn't a nice hotel, didn't have a bellman upfront, no room service, just a manger where the sheep rest. It wasn't what they had in mind. But God doesn't always do things the way we have planned - his ways are not our ways. If you don't stay open, you'll be frustrated because they wouldn't let you in. Upset because the door didn't open.
Can I tell you? God knows what he's doing. When it's time to birth your baby, all the forces of darkness cannot keep you out. There will be a place for you to shine, for you to flourish, for you to show this world what God put in you. Now quit worrying about who wouldn't let you in, why this didn't work out, it wasn't fair. You weren't supposed to be in the inn, they weren't supposed to have room for you, your blessing is not in the inn, it's in the manger. Your increase, your favor, your abundance is not in where you've been, it's in where God is taking you. It's not in where you were left out, it's in where you're going.
Now do your part and start moving forward in faith. Not bitter over disappointments, not discouraged over what didn't work out, not upset because it's taken longer, there were delays and detours. God is saying: if you'll keep traveling steadily, being faithful when nobody is noticing, doing the right thing when it's uncomfortable, not complaining because you don't see things changing, then you're going to give birth to dreams bigger than you've imagined. God's going to do uncommon, unusual, extraordinary things.
The night Mary gave birth there were shepherds out in a field. An angel appeared to them and said, "I have good news, the Messiah has been born in Bethlehem. This is how you will recognize him, you will find him lying in a manger". If the innkeeper had not turned Jesus away, he wouldn't have been in the manger. The shepherds wouldn't have found him. The inn was supposed to be full. The innkeeper was supposed to not let them in. Nothing that happens to you is a surprise to God. He's ordering your steps. If the door closed, it was supposed to close. If the person walked away, they were supposed to walk away. Don't get bitter, keep traveling steadily, keep doing the right thing, keep being good to people, keep expecting, keep believing.
When you get to your manger so to speak, the shepherds are going to find you, the blessings, the healing, the promotion will come to you. Now, my challenge: stay consistent. Don't be ruled by your feelings, make up your mind you're not going to be moved by what's not changing, not discouraged over how long it's taking, you're going to keep doing the right thing. Prove to God that you're going to be faithful. If you'll keep traveling steadily, honoring God, making good decisions, I believe and declare: God is about to give you the land, he's about to open new doors, bring new opportunities, problems are about to turn around, healing, freedom, favor, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.