Joel Osteen - Letting Go of Control
I want to talk to you today about Letting Go of Control. God puts promises and dreams in all of our hearts. We know we're going to get well, we know our business is going to succeed, we know we're going to meet the right person, but God doesn't tell us how it's going to happen or when it's going to happen. And too often if it's not happening the way we thought, on our timetable, we get frustrated. "God, when are you going to turn this around? When is my health going to improve? How come this situation is work is not getting better"? We put God in a box and tell him how to do it, when it should happen, who to use. If it's not working out the way we think, we get discouraged. But once you pray, once you believe, you have to leave how God does it and when he does it up to him.
If you put a time frame on it, and the method of how it's going to happen, you're going to be frustrated. Because God's ways are not our ways. He's working when we can't see it. Sometimes it's taken longer because he has something better in store. One of the best things I've learned is to trust God's timing, and trust his ways. What God promised will come to pass, but it may not happen the way you think, it may not be when you had planned. If you're trying to control the outcome, and control the time frame, then you're going to live worried. You have to release control, release having to have it happen your way.
God has already figured it out. He knows the end from the beginning, but here's the key: he doesn't give us the details. If you knew how everything was going to work out, it wouldn't take faith. If he told you three months from now: "A big door is going to open", it looks like you're going backwards, but there's a shortcut, that's going to put you ahead. "This person is going to show up to help you", you would relax and say "Okay, it's all going to work out". Why don't you do that now?
God has it all planned out, he's doing things that you can't see. There are good breaks coming, healing, favor, the right people, they're already on your schedule. If you'll release control then you can enjoy your life, while you're waiting for things to change. What's upsetting you? What's keeping you up at night? God is saying: "Release it to me. I'm in control. I'm ordering your steps. I'm working behind the scenes. It may not be good, but I'm going to turn it for your good".
The scripture says: those who have believed enter into rest. Once you believed, you don't have to figure everything out. You may not see anything changing, you'll be tempted to worry: stay at rest. When you're at rest you're showing God that you're trusting him. Maybe you're believing for your health to improve, but the medical report is not getting better. You thought it would have happened by now. You could be worried, complaining, but instead you're thanking God, you're declaring his promises, you're being your best each day.
When you're at rest you're in faith, that's what allows God to work. But if you're upset over what's not changing, worried about your finances, can't sleep because that child's off course - that's a sign that you stop believing. You need to enter into rest. Come back to a place of peace. You can't trust God and be worried at the same time. When you're at rest, you know God's in control, you know he's fighting your battles, you know what he started he's going to finish.
"Well, Joel I'm worried about my finances. I'm upset about the medical report. When is this pandemic going to be over"? It's not a surprise to God. He hasn't brought you this far to leave you - release the worry, release the frustration, release having to know all the details. Will always be situations that we don't understand, problems that look too big, obstacles that seem permanent - that's a test. Will you go through life worried, wondering if it's going to work out, discouraged because it's taking so long? Or will you enter into rest, will you believe that God is in control, that he will get you to where you're supposed to be?
My sister Lisa and her husband Kevin tried for years to have a baby with no success. Lisa took all the fertility treatments, had a couple of surgeries, but still couldn't conceive. Finally the doctors told her that she wouldn't be able to have a baby. Lisa kept praying, believing, she knows that God has the final say. But at one point she realized she was consumed with having that baby, that was her main focus.
And sometimes we want something so badly, it can get out of balance. We're not going to be happy unless God does it our way. Do you have to put that on the altar, don't release the dream, don't give up on the promise, but release control of how God is going to bring it to pass. He may not do it a traditional way, what you were expecting. Anything you have to have to be happy the enemy can use that against you. But when you can say, "God, this is what I want, but even if it doesn't work out my way, I'm still going to be happy, I'm still going to give you praise", that takes away the power of the enemy. Hold tightly to your dreams, but hold loosely to how God is going to do it.
A few months after Lisa released control she received a phone call from a friend of ours in another state that has a home for teenage girls. One of the young ladies was about to give birth to twins, she asked Lisa and Kevin if they would be interested in adopting them. They didn't have to think twice. They knew that was an answered prayer. A couple of months later they were at the hospital when the babies were born. Today they're beautiful young ladies in their 20s.
God knows how to bring promises to pass, but you have to stay open to how it's going to happen. If you're set and having it one way, you can be frustrated. God does things out of the ordinary, unusual. He may not bring your dream to pass a traditional way. Seemed like Lisa was falling behind, but then one phone call and she had not won, but two babies. She didn't have to get pregnant, she didn't have to carry the baby nine months: God did it an unusual way.
Are you upset about something that's the hand of God? It hasn't happened yet because God is going to do something better than you think. The delay, the disappointment, the setback - it's not working against you, it's working for you. Release control of how it's going to happen. God is about to do unusual things, out of the ordinary, unprecedented - you're not falling behind, you're about to receive a phone call, a good break, a promotion, your health suddenly turns around.
See, I've learned that God doesn't always take us down a straight path. There will be detours, delays, curves, these times where you feel like you're going the wrong way. "God, I'm believing to go this direction for promotion, healing, freedom, but I'm going the other direction: I'm in a pandemic, I'm seeing just the opposite". Don't get set on the method. The way you think it's going to happen may not be the way God is going to do it. What you can't see is on that path that's the wrong direction, there's another turn, it leads to a shortcut that will catapult you ahead.
Lisa was believing for one child and came out with two, that's the way our God is - where he's leading you is going to be better than you've imagined. The reason it's taken longer is going to be bigger than you thought, more rewarding, more fulfilling. Doors aren't opening yet? You don't know what God is up to. You can't see what he's doing behind the scenes. People are against you, the trouble hasn't turned around, your family members still off course? Don't be discouraged by what's not changing - your time is coming.
The scripture talks about how there's a set time for God to favor you, a set time to heal you, a set time to turn the problem around. If there's a right time that means there's a wrong time. If it hasn't happened yet, that means it wasn't meant to be. Instead of fighting where you are, why don't you embrace where you are? "God, I know you're ordering my steps, I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. So, Lord, I want to thank you that my set times are coming". I can promise you, God is not going to be one second late. He's not going to accidentally miss your set time.
It's good to be passionate about our dreams, and passionate about seeing healing, freedom, promotion, but don't be so consumed that you're not going to be happy while you're waiting for God to bring it to pass. Don't put your happiness on hold until everything works out. This day is a gift: enjoy your life while God is working, enter into rest. Not uptight, stressed out, "When is it going to change"? You have to pass the test of being happy where you are before God will get you to where you want to be.
If you can only be happy when the problem turns around, when you have the baby, when your business grows, that's going to delay what God is going to do. You have to put your foot down and say, "No, I'm going to enjoy this day. This pandemic is not going to stop me. These challenges, this bad break, God I know You're on the throne, I trust Your timing, I trust Your ways in the meantime, I'm gonna live my life happy".
Imagine if Joseph had not learned how to release control. God gave him a dream as a teenager that he would be in leadership and people would bow down before him. What if he had a preconceived idea of how it was going to happen? "Surely if someone is going to come by my house, like they did for David, anoint me as king, pick me out of a lineup, show me favor I'll step into leadership". But God does things unusual ways. He uses adversities, bad breaks, disappointments to move us into our destiny. The trouble looks like a setback, but really trouble is transportation. God uses trouble to move you to where he wants you to be.
We think God only uses good breaks, favor, open doors. We thank God when that happens, we know it's his blessing, but I've learned: God uses closed doors just as much as open doors. He uses people that are against us just as much as people that are for us. He uses rejection, betrayal, delays, to position us for promotion. We can't see it at the time. We don't like, it it's uncomfortable, but it's the hand of God ordering our steps. Joseph had this dream. He knew God's favor was on him, but what happened? He was betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit, he was sold into slavery, worked in a foreign country, falsely accused, put in prison - one bad break after another.
Joseph could have said "God, where are you? What happened to my dream? Why did you let all these people do me wrong, all these bad breaks happen"? But Joseph understood this principle: he never complained, he never got bitter. I'm sure there were many lonely nights where he felt abandoned, forgotten, but deep down he could hear that still small voice telling him "I'm still in control. I've got you in the palm of my hand. This is all a part of your destiny".
If he would have tried to control it, tried to make it happen his way, he would have lived bitter, frustrated. Every day he had to release the worry, release the frustration, release how he thought it would happen. 13 years later he became the prime minister of Egypt, he saw that dream come to pass. But when you study his journey you see twists and turns, delays and detours, disappointments.
Proverbs 20:24 says, "Since the Lord is directing our steps, why try to understand everything that happens along the way". Are you frustrated because you don't understand something that's happened to? You upset over a bad break, worried because of a delay? How do you know it's not the hand of God leading you to your throne? How do you know you're not a Joseph, that you're not right on course, on schedule to see what God promised? May not happen like you think, but God uses difficulties to position us for destiny. What you're upset about is a necessary step. That closed door, the delay - it's instrumental in you reaching your purpose.
Now don't try to understand everything that happens along the way: God works in mysterious ways. If you're trying to figure everything out, you're going to get confused. There are things you're not supposed to understand, that's what faith is all about. If that adversity was going to stop your destiny, God wouldn't have allowed it. If that disappointment was going to keep you from your purpose, it wouldn't have happened. God is seeing what you're made of. This is your chance to say like Joseph, "God, I trust You even when I don't understand. I'm going to keep being my best even when it's not fair. I'm gonna keep giving you praise when I could be complaining. I'm gonna keep moving forward when I feel like going backwards".
Luke 22, Jesus was about to be crucified. He was on the Mount of Olives praying. Judas came up with a group of soldiers and kissed Jesus, that's how they knew who to arrest. When they went to take Jesus Peter pulled out his sword and cut off one of the soldiers ears. He was ready to fight. He wasn't about to let this go down without opposition. The other disciples said to Jesus, "Lord should we fight? We brought our swords". Jesus said in verse 52, "Don't resist anymore". He was saying: this is all a part of my plan. I can't reach my destiny without Judas kissing me, without this betrayal. I can't rise from the dead. I can't bring salvation, without these soldiers arresting me, without me being crucified.
He could have said, "Yes, resist. Yes, fight them". He could have called down angels from heaven to save him, but he knew the opposition was necessary, that was a part of God's plan. It looked like the enemy was in control. The soldiers were getting the upper hand, taking Jesus away, they didn't realize - they were taking him into his destiny. When we face hardships, bad breaks, disappointments, it seems like the enemy's in control. That's when we want to fight, resist, get upset, but God is saying "Don't resist anymore. Don't fight it. Don't live bitter. Don't try to get even. Trust me. I'm in control, I'm still directing your steps".
Yes resist the sickness, resist the addiction, but you shouldn't fight everything that comes your way, live upset, can't sleep at night. The enemy didn't get the upper hand, he didn't somehow get control of your life - God is still on the throne. The betrayal wasn't fair - God didn't stop it, because it's leading you to your destiny. You didn't like the disappointment, looks like the enemy is prevailing, like the opposition is holding you back, but you don't know what God is up to. What you can't see is on the other side of that crucifixion so to speak, is a resurrection. On the other side of the betrayal, the sickness, the disappointment, is a new level of your destiny. Stop resisting and start resting.
Sometimes we're trying to play God, straighten everyone out, vindicate ourselves, fix this situation at work. Why don't you release control? God doesn't need our help. He's not looking for some advice, hoping you'll stop these betrayals, keep these bad breaks from happening. No, don't resist anymore, let him be God, let him fight your battles. You don't have to fight everything that comes your way. You can't reach your destiny without a Judas kiss. Don't fight Judas, kiss him back and move on. You can't become who you were created to be without a Saul being jealous, like with David. Without a Potiphar's wife falsely accusing you like with Joseph. Without a king Nebuchadnezzar throwing you into a fiery furnace, like the Hebrew teenagers. Without a Pharaoh trying to hold you captive, like the Israelites. The good news is: the opposition is not in control, they are pawns in the hands of the Most High God. He's ordering your steps, nothing happens without his permission.
1959 my father was pastoring a successful church. They just built a new auditorium, he was on the state board for his denomination. Life was good, looked like he had a bright future. But my sister Lisa was born with something like cerebral palsy. My father went to a hotel downtown to be alone for a few days. He read the Bible like he was reading it for the first time. He saw how God is a healer and how he wants us to live a blessed, abundant, victorious life. He came back and started sharing his new message of faith and victory with his congregation. Much to his surprise, some of them didn't didn't like it, it didn't fit into their tradition. They ended up asking him to leave.
He was so disappointed. He had spent years pouring his heart and soul into those people, lifelong friends never spoke to my mother again. My mother could have fought it, my father could have fought it made a big fuss, showed them he was right, they were wrong. Instead he didn't resist. He recognized that closed door was the hand of God. He and my mother went out and started Lakewood in an abandoned feed store with 90 people. Critics said it would never last, but 61 years later here we are still going strong.
God knew my father couldn't reach his destiny staying in that limited environment. Those people that were against him, they couldn't help it, they weren't bad people, they were pawns in the hands of God. You have to be mature enough to know when to resist and when not to resist. You're not supposed to fight every battle. God uses betrayals, closed doors, disappointments to move you into your purpose. What if my father would have been bitter, stubborn, not willing to move? "God, I know you want me to pastor here"? He would have missed your destiny. Don't resist - rest. Don't try to control how it's going to happen - release control, be open to what God is doing.
Acts chapter 27, Paul was a prisoner on a boat sailing toward Rome. An angel appeared to him and said he was going to stand before Caesar. On the journey they encountered a huge storm with hurricane force winds. For 14 days they didn't see the sun nor the stars. They tried their best to steer the ship, to try to keep some kind of control, but the winds were too much. Instead of fighting it, trying to force it to where they wanted, the scripture says they took down the cells and let the winds blow the ship wherever the storm wanted it to go.
When you've done everything you can: you prayed, you believed, you've stood in faith, there comes a time where you have to do like them: quit fighting it, quit trying to force it to work out, quit losing sleep and release control. God will not take you someplace where he won't sustain you. How do you release control? Quit worrying about it, quit losing sleep, quit trying to make it happen your way, and say "God, I trust you. I know you're in control of these winds. They can blow me forward, backwards, left, right, but one thing I'm certain of is where they take me is exactly where I'm supposed to be".
That's what my father did. Those winds blew him to Lakewood. The same winds that were meant to stop you, if you'll stay in faith, God will shift the winds. Instead of blowing you back, they will blow you forward. That's what the scripture says: what's meant for your harm, God's going to turn to your advantage. Are you resisting or are you resting? Are you trying to control everything, upset because it's not happening your way, trying to force it? Why don't you take down those cells, and trust what God is doing? You may not understand it, it may not make sense yet, but one day you'll see: it was necessary to reach your destiny. It looked like a setback, but really it was a setup.
I talked to a young lady. Life was going good until she was diagnosed with tUberculosis. She was out of work so long she lost her job. She couldn't afford her apartment, a friend had to give her a place to live, and she ended up getting a job with the major airlines. She was so excited, she was getting back on her feet, then the pandemic hit. The airline cutter work back to only a few hours a week. She had to get an additional job working with the security company. One night at work her car was stolen. It was one bad break after another. She got a rental car, and it had SiriusXM. She was so discouraged, she said she needed to laugh, so she started flipping through the channels looking for a comedian.
She came across our station, channel 128, she thought I was a comedian so she started listening. She found out I wasn't, but she couldn't turn it off. Hope began to feel her heart, dreams started coming back to life, fresh vision. She ended up giving her life to Christ. Recently her company offered her the opportunity to transfer to Hawaii. She'd always dreamed of living there, it was a management position. Because she worked for the airlines, she can travel back and forth at no charge. She said "I look back now at all these things that have happened, and I realized, it was all working for my good. If my truck hadn't have been stolen, I wouldn't have come to know the Lord. If I didn't work for the airlines I wouldn't have these free flights. If they hadn't cut my hours, I wouldn't have taken this new job, wouldn't have had the opportunity to move to Hawaii".
She couldn't see it at the time, but the winds of that storm were blowing her to where God wanted her to be. That difficulty that you're facing, that trouble it's not going to stop you, the trouble is transportation. God is using it to move you into your destiny. Now you're not going to understand all that happens along the way - you have to release control. Don't fight everything, worried, "Why did this happen"? God knows what he's doing. He has you in the palm of his hand. He may not do it the way you had planned, but where he's taken you is better than you've imagined.
Psalm 55:22 says, "Cast your burdens on the Lord, release the weight of them, and he will sustain you". How many weights are you carrying around? The weight of worry, the weight of what you don't understand, the weight of "How am I going to make it through this tough time"? There's something you have to do: God is not going to take the burden away, you have to release the worry, release the frustration, release having to figure it out. Come back to a place of peace. The right attitude is "God, my life is in your hands. I commit my dreams, my family, my finances, my health to you. And I'm not going to fight everything I don't like. I'm not going to live upset when it doesn't go my way. I know you're working all things for my good. God, I trust your timing and I trust your ways".
When you have believed - enter into rest. I'm asking you to stop resisting, and start resting. If you will release control, I believe and declare: weights that have burned you down are lifting off of you right now. God is about to shift the winds of that storm. Instead of blowing you backwards, it's going to blow you forward. Promotion is coming, healing is coming, freedom, breakthroughs, favor, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.