Joel Osteen - Can You Handle The Blessing?
I want to talk to you today аbout: Can You Handle the Blessing? We all love to be blessed, to see new doors opening, our business taking off, we meet the person of our dreams, or we move into that new house - we know that's God taking us where we can't go on our own. But here's the key: the blessing doesn't come by itself. Jesus told his disciples in Mark chapter 10:29-30, "Anything you give up for my sake: houses, property, people, you will receive in this life a hundredfold return with persecution". He could have said "I'm going to give you the blessing: the houses, the resources, the promotion, and left it there", but he added this asterisk so to speak and said "I'm going to bless you, but with that blessing is going to come opposition, jealousy, criticism, people that are not for you".
The question is not so much "Can you handle the blessing?", the question is "Can you handle the persecution?" "Can you handle being misunderstood, talked about, left out?" everyone is not going to celebrate your success. All your friends won't be happy when you get that promotion. All your relatives won't cheer you on when you move on into that new house, when your business increases, when you get engaged. The favor on your life will stir up the jealousy, the competition, the envy in certain people. Don't get upset - it's not about you, it's about the blessing on your life. You can't have the blessing without some kind of persecution. If you're going to be blessed on a greater level, you're going to be persecuted on a greater level. If you can handle the persecution, then God can trust you with the blessing.
As long as you're going to be offended, upset, fight with people, then the blessing wouldn't be a blessing. You have to pass the test of overlooking insults, ignoring what people are saying, not paying attention to the critics, those trying to discredit you. They wouldn't be talking if you weren't making a difference, if you weren't a leader, if you weren't shining brightly. Let God deal with the naysayers, let God take care of those that are trying to make you look bad, trying to stir up trouble, leaving you out. Some people can't handle your success. They were fine as long as you were at their level, they had no problem as long as you were in the same department, as long as you were single like them, as long as you lived in their neighborhood, but when God blessed you in a greater way - it can stir things up.
You have to be okay with them not being okay with you. Your time is too valuable to worry about what people think about you. Your assignment is too important to try to convince everyone to like you. Don't waste your time and energy trying to make someone be for you that's never going to be for you. You don't need everyone to celebrate you, you don't need all your co-workers, all your relatives to cheer you on. If you become too dependent on people: what they think: "Do they validate me? Are they happy with my success?", then if they don't meet your expectations, if they don't approve you, you'll spend your time trying to get their approval, upset, because they're not for you. Don't look to people - look to God. People can get jealous, people can be competitive, Moody, you don't need their approval, you have Almighty God's approval.
When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead it was a great miracle. You would think everyone would be happy, everyone would celebrate that this man had life again. He could see his children, he could go enjoy his family. But the leaders in the synagogue were jealous. They didn't like the fact that it brought more attention to Jesus, they were already plotting to kill him, but the scripture says (John 12:10) "The religious leaders decided to kill Lazarus too". Here Lazarus all he did was come back to life, wasn't even his choice, God chose to bless him, to make him an example of his goodness, but with that great blessing came great persecution. If God is going to bless you in a greater way, you have to be able to handle greater persecution. Don't get upset when people turn on you. Don't be revengeful and use your influence to pay them back, live bitter, always thinking about what they said - ignore it. Don't give it the time of day. Keep shining, keep dreaming, keep being good to people, and God will take care of the persecutors. He'll deal with the critics, the jealous people, the opposition.
What's interesting is the religious leaders never did kill Lazarus. They came up with a plan, they had a strategy, but it never succeeded - that's because people can't stop your destiny. The blessing on your life is greater than any force that's trying to hold you back. Now don't stay focused on the persecution "Why did they turn on me? Why are they talking about me? Why aren't they for me"? It's because the blessing comes with persecution, it's a test. Can you handle the opposition, the jealousy, the people stirring up trouble?
You know who gets jealous when you succeed? Small-minded people. Small-minded people think you going up makes them look bad, so they try to pull you down. Instead of believing that what God did for you he can do for them, they start criticizing, finding fault, trying to make you look bad. They think God's favor is limited, that you being blessed is keeping them from rising higher. They don't realize: God has unlimited favor. What he's done for you he can do for them.
I've seen this in my own life. God has taken me places that I've never dreamed, I recognize that it's his goodness, I couldn't have done this on my own. There have been many friends and family members and other ministers that have celebrated what God has done in my life, people that have been very for me. I've noticed how certain ministers that were behind me, happy for my success, cheered me on. God has blessed them in great ways, they've seen increase and favor and continue to rise higher. But there were a few ministers that weren't for me. They didn't know me, but they were hard, critical, jealous, they tried to stir up trouble. I didn't pay any attention, I didn't get bitter, talked badly about them, I just kept running my race, doing what I've been called to do. I understand this principle that with the blessing comes persecution.
And I've noticed that these ministers that were very hard and critical have seen very little growth. In fact some of them have gone way down - it's because they can't handle the blessing. If you can't celebrate people that are ahead of you, if you can't be happy when they get promoted, when their child gets a scholarship, when they get married, when their dream comes to pass - that's going to limit how high God will take you. Don't have a small-minded mentality, your friend being promoted doesn't mean that God can't promote you. Your family member moving into that nice house shouldn't intimidate you, it should inspire you. God didn't run out of favor: if he did it for them, he could do it for you.
I believe that God is about to release greater blessings, greater influence, greater resources, favor that you haven't seen. But for this to happen you have to be able to handle the blessing, you have to get to the point where you're not bothered by persecution, you're okay with people not liking you. You're not defensive when people don't understand. You don't live bitter because they won't be for you. If you'll show God that you can handle the blessing, he'll open doors that you could never open, he'll cause opportunity, the right people to come to you. Favor that will thrust you ahead.
In Genesis 26 there was a great famine in the land. The people had very little food. God told Isaac to not leave, but to stay in the city of Gerar and God would bless him there. It was controlled by the Philistines. Everything was fine, friendly neighbors, then Isaac went out and planted his crops. He stepped out in faith and sowed seeds in a time of famine. Didn't make sense. I can imagine his neighbors laughing "Isaac, what are you doing? We're in a drought, there's no water for your crops", but the scripture says (Genesis 26:12) "That same year Isaac harvested a hundred times what he planted". It's significant that Jesus said "You would receive a hundred fold what you give up for the cause of Christ". Here's this hundred times harvest.
In the middle of the famine Isaac was blessed in a great way. Verse 13 says "He became a wealthy man, and his wealth continued to increase. He acquired large flocks of sheep great herds of cattle and many staff". He was blessed in abundance. The next verse says (Genesis 26:12) "Soon the Philistines became jealous". Didn't take long before the blessing stirred up trouble. It's funny how when you step out in faith like Isaac you're obedient, you stretch, take risks, pray and believe, God blesses you, then people get jealous. The fact is: the Philistines could have planted their crops, they could have stepped out in faith, but people that won't do what you're willing to do will be quick to find fault when you're blessed.
The Philistines had no problem with Isaac as long as he was suffering, as long as he was defeated like them in lack, but as soon as God blessed him, as soon as his business took off, as soon as he stood out - they became jealous, critical, started finding fault. They didn't just talk about him, they clogged up his wells, they filled them full of dirt.
Genesis 26:16, "The king said, 'Isaac, you've become too wealthy and too powerful for us. You have to move somewhere else'". Isaac could have argued, "I'm not leaving, this is my property". He could have been baited into conflict, started fighting the Philistines. Instead he moved to the valley and lived there. He understood: with the blessing comes persecution. The Philistines couldn't handle his success. The king admitted - you're too powerful for us. It wasn't about Isaac, he didn't take it personally, it was about the blessing on his life.
When people don't accept you, when they leave you out, they try to stir up conflict - don't take it personally, it's not about you, it's about the favor that God's put on you. If you can't handle the persecution, then God won't trust you with the blessing. Are you upset over who's against you, who turned on you, who's talking about you? It comes with the blessing. But if you get bent out of shape every time you face persecution, that's going to keep you from the abundance that belongs to you. With great favor comes great haters. With great abundance comes great opposition. With great blessing comes great persecution. We pray for the blessings "God give me great favor, great influence, great ideas", that's good. I believe in asking big. But we should add to that prayer, "And God, help me to endure great persecution, help me to not live bitter, try to pay people back. Help me to stay on the high road and trust you to fight my battles".
It's not a coincidence that Isaac experienced one of the greatest blessings of his life. In the middle of a pandemic, you know, in the middle of a famine, against all odds the scripture says his harvest was tremendous, a hundred times what he planted. If it stopped there it would be great - blessings with no trouble, blessings with everyone happy for you, blessings with all your friends celebrating. But it goes on to say "Soon the Philistines were jealous". When you see great blessing soon someone will not understand, soon a family member will get jealous, soon a co-worker will try to stir up trouble. This is not to discourage you, but to prepare you. If you're prepared you don't get bitter, you don't try to straighten them out, you do like Isaac and say "God, I know with the blessing comes persecution, so I'm going to pass this test. Father thank you that you're in control, thank you that you're fighting my battles. Thank you that what you started no person can stop".
Stay on the high road, don't pay attention to jealous, small-minded people. "Joel, they clogged up my wells, they did me wrong". God saw it. He blessed you in the famine, do you think they can stop him from blessing you again? He knows how to unclog wells. He knows how to silence your accusers. The scripture says "Those that have hated you will be put to shame, their humiliation will be obvious to all". And sometimes the way God pays you back is he keeps blessing you when others are trying to discredit you. He keeps taking you up when they're doing their best to pull you down. The more they talk, the higher you'll go.
I worked behind the scenes here at Lakewood for 17 years. And when my father went to be with the Lord I stepped up to pastor the church. I didn't think I would ever be a minister, but God suddenly took me from the background to the foreground. Much to my surprise the church started growing, people started coming and watching in record numbers. With all this influence and favor came persecution. I had never dealt with that. When I was behind the scenes I didn't have any enemies to speak of and people that would try to discredit me. I had to learn what I'm telling you, here's the key: the grace is there to handle it. God doesn't let you face anything that's too much. You have what it takes to not be offended, to not live defensive, to not let what they say get down in your spirit, to ignore the unfair criticism, to not be baited into that conflict.
God wouldn't have given you the blessing if he hasn't given you the grace to handle it. This doesn't happen automatically - you have to rule your emotions, you have to not dwell on the offense, not think about what they said. When you're tempted to get bitter, get upset, take that same time to thank God for how he blessed you. Don't let jealous people steal your blessing. Don't let critical people, people that are never going to be for you keep you from the greatness that God put in you.
Jesus had many critics. Many people said hurtful things, things that were untrue. He could have straightened them out, spent time arguing, trying to change their mind. But the scripture says (Matthew 27:14), "He answered them not a word". He didn't give them the time of day. Don't waste your time trying to change your critic's mind, don't argue with people that don't matter. What they think of you is not going to stop your destiny. Their opinion is not going to keep you from your purpose. That negative chatter is a distraction, it's the enemy trying to bait you into conflict to get you off course. You can't stop what they're saying, but you can't ignore it, you can not let it get down in your spirit. You don't have to respond to the negative. A response gives that person credibility. Don't validate what they're saying by answering them - you have a destiny to fulfill, you have an assignment to accomplish. Do like Jesus and ignore it.
This was difficult for me at first. My personality type is to want everybody to like me, I want everybody to be for me, but I had to learn that some people are not going to like you and that's okay, some people are not going to accept you and that's fine. Everyone is not supposed to be for you. But sometimes we're trying to change people's minds that are never going to be for us. You keep honoring God, being your best and God will cause the people you need to be for you, and he'll take care of your critics. When it's the right time just like he closed the mouths of hungry lions, he'll close the mouths of those trying to discredit you. That's not your battle, that battle is the Lord's. But if you don't let him fight it, you'll live defensive, trying to prove to people that you're okay, prove to them that you're not what they said. You're letting them change who you are. You don't need them to be for you. Having them on your side, changing their mind is not going to move you forward. The best response is let your life, your success, your example do the talking.
When I had been ministering for a few years I was still young and not sure of myself, wondering how it was all going to turn out. I was at a book signing in another state. This lady came up with the newspaper, it was folded in two. On the top half it had a big picture of me, big smile, hair just right, good looking, I was feeling good, I had made the paper. Over to the side it had the word in bold letters, "Positively", I thought "That's good, they're saying I'm positive". She asked me to sign it. When I finished, I said "Let me look at this", I was proud. I opened it up and under the word positively was the word "Dangerous". It wasn't a favorable article, now that picture didn't look so hot.
I was tempted to be discouraged, offended, then I thought to myself "Is it dangerous to tell people about the goodness of God, give them hope, let them know they can break addictions, overcome an illness, let go of their past, reach their dreams? Is it dangerous to tell people that they're made in the image of God, a masterpiece, crowned with favor, royal blood flowing through their veins, with seeds of greatness"? I had to make a decision: was I going to let someone I had never met change who I am? Someone that didn't understand me, that wasn't for me to cause me to be defensive, try to prove to them that I'm not harmful? Or was I going to ignore the naysayers, run my race and let God fight my battles?
Don't change who you are for someone that isn't going to be for you no matter what you do. It's not about you, it's about the hundredfold blessing on your life, it's about you having a harvest in a famine like Isaac. It's about you setting a new standard for your family, breaking the addiction, graduating from college. You don't have to respond. You don't have time to deal with every negative comment, every person doesn't like or understand you - be in Isaac, take the hundred fold and move forward with your life. The king told Isaac "You're too powerful for us". Like Isaac you're too powerful for some of your friends, you're too anointed for some of your co-workers, you're too favored for those critics, you're too blessed for those naysayers. Where God is taking you they can't go. The sooner you move on, the sooner you quit responding, the sooner you quit giving the negative your time and attention, the better off you're going to be. You have the grace to rise above it, the grace to ignore it, the grace to not let it bother you.
"Well, Joel when they stop saying things about me, when they change their mind, then I'll quit being offended, upset, defensive" - it's a test. With that blessing came persecution: are you going to let it keep you from enjoying the blessing? If you focus on the persecution, live sour, trying to straighten people out, it will keep you from the greater blessings that belong to you. Step into that grace and move forward.
This is what David did when he was a teenager out in the shepherds fields taking care of his father's sheep. He didn't have much opposition. His father thought he was too small, his brothers made fun of him from time to time, but as a whole it was just a small thing. As long as he was alone in the fields, not having much influence, his gifts still hidden, nobody criticized, nobody tried to stop him. But after he killed Goliath he became an overnight hero. King Saul eventually sent for David had him to come to the palace and become his armor-bearer. One day Saul overheard people singing "Saul has killed thousands and David has killed tens of thousands". Saul thought "This guy's more popular than I am". Saul became jealous. He couldn't handle David's success.
One day while David was playing the harp for Saul trying to make him feel better, Saul took a spear and threw it at David trying to kill him. David dodged it and barely missed him. When God promotes you, gives you more influence you have to get good at dodging spears. Someone throws an insult - dodge it, throws jealousy, tries to make you look bad - dodge it. Throws criticism, says things that aren't true - dodge it. The persecution is a sign that people can see the favor on your life. Saul wasn't throwing spears at any of his other men. He wasn't trying to stop his chief of staff, his lieutenant, his general - he saw something special on David. He could sense that David had greatness, that stirred up the jealousy. That's why he chased David through the desert. David kept dodging spears, doing the right thing when the wrong thing was happening. At one point David had the chance to kill Saul, he found him asleep in the desert. It was his big opportunity to get revenge, but David wouldn't do it. He knew Saul had been anointed king, he wouldn't touch God's anointed. Eventually Saul was killed in a battle and David took the throne.
You keep dodging the spears, overlooking the wrongs, staying on the high road and God will take care of your Sauls. You have to get to the point where you're not moved by persecution, you're not bothered by the jealousy, not offended by what someone said, not losing sleep over those that are throwing spears. You know it's a part of the package. You can't be blessed without persecution. When those spears start coming, that means you're about to take the throne, you're about to see God's favor in a new way. Now, don't get bent out of shape by who's against you, what they said, why do they leave me out? They can't stop your destiny.
Where God is going to take you is going to require greater discipline, greater focus and greater obedience. There will be plenty of opportunities to pick up their spear and throw it back, to live defensive, to get baited into conflict. Like with Isaac when they see God show out in your life, favor you in the famine, prosper you in the pandemic, some people won't understand. They'll try to discredit you, find fault - don't take the bate, keep your heart pure, be good to those that aren't good to you, overlook what they said. That all used to bother me but now I'm comfortable with persecution, I don't fall apart when things come against me, I'm not bothered by the jealousy. I've lived long enough to tell you: God has the final say, he will take care of those that try to stop yoy.
My question is: can you handle the blessing? Can you withstand the persecution, keep a good attitude with negative chatter, not be bitter over the jealousy? I already know the answer: yes you can! I'm looking at powerful people, I'm looking at focused people and I'm looking at favored people. You've been graced for every situation. Now tap into that grace, stay on the high road and get ready. I believe and declare: because you can handle it God is about to release a new level of blessing, a new level of resources, a new level of influence, anointing, creativity, something that you've never seen. Favor that catapults you ahead in Jesus name, and if you receive it can you say amen today?