Joel Osteen - Living In The Present
I want to talk to you today about Living In The Present. So often our mind is either in the past, focused on what didn't work out, who did us wrong, mistakes we've made, or it's in the future, thinking about our goals, worried about our finances, "What if my health doesn't improve"? The problem with being in the past or being in the future is: you will miss the present. David said (Psalm 118:24), "This is the day the Lord has made". Today is a gift from God. Are you fully engaged, making the most of each moment, loving your family, appreciating the simple things in life? Or are you in yesterday? Are you in tomorrow? The reason some relationships are not healthy is you came home from work, but you didn't really show up, your mind was somewhere else. You played with your child, but you are in tomorrow, thinking about how you are going to accomplish that goal. You went to the office, your body was there, but your mind was in yesterday, thinking about what you should have done better.
If you're going to be fulfilled you have to show up for life, you have to be there when you get there. Not show up and be in the future, worried about how it's going to work out, not show up and be in the past, living in regrets, dwelling on your disappointments - come into today. Yes, it's good to have goals. I'm all for having vision, but you can't be so focused on what's next, that you miss what you have right now. I know people that lost what they had going after what they wanted. They were so intent on reaching that goal, doing great things, they took their family for granted, they came home but they weren't there, they were distracted, thinking about what's next. Planning for the future they never came into the present.
Victoria and I used to travel with my father to India, we'd go a couple times a year. We'd been married for a couple of years. On this trip on the way home we were going to stop in Paris. My father was going to minister there a few days. We were so excited, our first time being in Paris together. Before we left home we put an offer in for a house that we really wanted. We had sold our town home and we found this place that we loved, had a nice yard, big trees, and the house was so light and open - it was perfect. When we arrived in Paris, the first thing we did was call our realtor and ask if she had heard anything - she said nothing. The next morning we woke up, called the realtor: any news? Still nothing. During the day we'd go out and look at sites, the whole time we were talking about that house, believing we were going to get it. As we walked the streets of Paris, we took pictures of things that we'd like to do to our new house. "Here's a front we could put on it. Here's how we could do the landscaping".
We were in Paris, but we weren't really there. Our mind was somewhere else. We were in the future, all the while missing the present. We could have been making the most of that moment, enjoying the sights, taking in that beautiful city. But we were so focused on what we wanted that we missed what we had. If I could go back now, I said "Joel, enjoy where you are. Be present. At the right time the doors will open, the opportunities will come, but while you're waiting stay in the now". What's funny is when we arrived home, the agent called and said they sold the house to someone else. I thought, "You mean, I wasted my whole trip focused on that house, dreaming about that house, decorating that house, landscaping that house, and we didn't even get it"? Don't lose what you have going after what you want.
And you don't have to go to Paris to miss something great - you can miss your child growing up, going after what you want. You can miss who your spouse is, all the great things about them because you're so consumed with your business, with your hobby, with how you're going to fix that problem. The people in your life are not always going to be there. Don't take them for granted. There will always be plenty of work, plenty of challenges, plenty of problems to solve - those things will never go away. When you're with your family give them your time, your attention. Life goes so fast. You look at your little children today, the next thing you know, they're teenagers, tormenting you... I mean blessing you. When you come home you need to show up.
I charge my cell phone by my bed each night. The other morning I woke up and my phone was dead, I had forgotten to plug it in. It was present, but not connected. Sometimes that's the way we are. Victoria and I were in Paris, we were present, but we weren't connected. You can be at work: you showed up, you're present, but you're not plugged, in your mind is somewhere else. At home you're present, you eat dinner with the family, but are you connected? Are you engaged, making the most of that moment? Or are you in tomorrow, hoping you'll get the contract, worried about your business, wondering how your finances are going to work out? Are you in yesterday, upset over the disappointment, bitter over who hurt you, thinking about what they said? You're missing the beauty of this day. Once we live this day, we can't get it back. Don't take for granted all the good things in your life right now. You're present, I'm asking you to get connected. Enjoy where you are. Take time for the people God's given you. The dreams will come to pass in due season. The problems will resolve in God's timing. Worrying about them doesn't make it work out any sooner. Constantly thinking about your goals doesn't make them happen any faster. Stay in the moment.
I don't want to just live in the house with my family - I want to be connected. It's easy to go on autopilot, we've known each other for years, we're not really engaged anymore, we're just going through the motions. How was work? Fine. What'd you do today? Nothing. We used to be connected, but we've been through challenges, we've had disagreements, pressures of raising children, paying bills, now we're showing up, but we're not really there. Why don't you get plugged back in? The people in your life can bring you great joy, great fulfillment. When you're present and connected life is rewarding. You have to keep sowing into relationships, it's not a one-time thing, we got married now we're a couple, the scripture says "The two will become one". When you said I do, it didn't happen instantly, it takes a lifetime to become one.
Victoria and I were talking with friends the other day, kind of playing around. Victoria was laughing, she said "Joel, you don't even know me". I thought, "After 34 years of marriage I don't know you"? I didn't know whether to be excited or afraid. What she was saying was: in relationships we change. The person you married at 20 is not the same person at 30. You can't treat them the same way, you have to adapt, adjust, recognize what they need at this age in this stage. The 30 year old is not the same person at 50, they've grown, they've matured, they've developed new interests. They have different needs at different stages. You can't put your love on autopilot and treat them the same way. That's why some people break up, they're not bad people, they've just grown apart, they didn't change. They were present, but they didn't stay connected.
You haven't discovered all the treasures in that person God gave you to love. You've seen one stage, but they're going to blossom into new stages. Are you taking time to laugh together? Go on dates? To do new things? How many people are in the house, but they're really not home? They sleep in the same bed, but they're really not there? And sometimes I realize the reason we're not connected is the past: past hurts, past failures, what they said, how they treated us. As long as you're in the past, you'll stay disconnected. You have to let it go, this is a new day, God's mercy is fresh every morning. Come into the present. Life is too short to hold on to hurts, live upset, focus on what they did wrong. Give that person room to be human. Show them mercy.
No matter who you're in relationship with, or how good a person they are, at times they're going to disappoint you, they're going to let you down. Focus on their good qualities, focus on the reason you fell in love, how you couldn't live without them. When you were dating that person could do no wrong, you would talk on the phone three hours together, spend 15 minutes trying to figure out who was going to hang up first, you would laugh, have fun, do things together. When Victoria and I were dating, I'd go anywhere with her: I'd go shopping all day, we'd go the grocery store together. She could have said, "Let's go see this electrical plant", I would have gone. It's not what we were doing, it's who I was doing it with. I love being with her, still do - I was present and connected. She had my full attention. When I was with her I wasn't thinking about work, I wasn't thinking about what I did the day before - it's fully engaged, living in the present.
Over time life can happen, we face challenges, pressures at work, family members that are difficult - it's easy to let that press us down and we become sour, we don't enjoy our spouse anymore, we don't want to spend time together. We have a list of all the things they've done wrong. The easy way out is to disconnect: they're not performing up to par, they're not meeting my standards, so I'll check out, I'll go do my own thing, watch tv, hang out with my friends. God didn't put that person in your life by accident. He's given them to you as a gift. Don't wait till they're gone to recognize what you have, get plugged in, be kind, be generous, treat them like again, show them mercy when they make mistakes. Don't hold on to grudges, you're a team, God put you together. Make your partner better, build them up, encourage them, help them to reach their dreams. You need to start laughing again, start having fun together.
Don't lose the child in you. You should never get too old, and too uptight, that you can't laugh together. Laughter is like medicine. With all the pressures of life and negative things in the news, it's easy to become sour, heavy where everything's a burden. Keep that tension out of your home. Your home should be a place of peace, a place of joy. One thing about Victoria is: she loves to laugh, she loves to have fun, she keeps the atmosphere of our home joyful. Like all of us we have challenges, there are things we could be worried about, our mind could be in the future trying to figure out a thousand things. We could be in the past, focused on setbacks, what we should have done better, but we do our best to stay in the now, to enjoy each day. To not just be present, but to be connected.
One time when I was a little boy, my father and mother had a disagreement, they didn't see eye to eye. My father was put out with my mother. He felt like she had done him wrong, it wasn't anything big, it's just life, but my father decided he was going to give my mother the silent treatment, that she wasn't worthy of his time or attention. He came into the kitchen, my mother politely asked: can I help you get something to eat? He said very currently "No", turned and walked away. When she came through the house, he would look the other way, go into another room. This went on all afternoon, he wouldn't give her the time of day.
When your mind is in the past you can't enjoy the present. When you focus on the hurts, the wrongs, what they said, it's going to keep you from the beauty of this day. I'm not saying that people didn't hurt you, someone may have done you wrong, but you can't stay in yesterday and enjoy today. You have to forgive, show mercy and move forward.
My mother decided that she was going to play at his game. She went and hid behind one of the doors. My father came through the house looking for, so he could ignore her. He couldn't find her anywhere. He said, "It's hard to ignore someone that you can't find". He started looking and looking everywhere: in the bathroom, the closet, the utility room, he went out in the garage, he checked the backyard. He started to get worried, thinking, "What if the rapture came and I got left behind"?
At one point he walked past the door where my mother was hiding. She timed it perfectly, she jumped on his back, wrapped her legs around his waist, and said, "I'm not getting off until you start talking to me again". My father started laughing so hard, they both fell to the ground, that was the end of his silent treatment. Keep joy in your home, keep laughter in your relationships. I know there are real issues, but living in strife, holding grudges, not forgiving, that's keeping you from the new things God has in store.
This is what Joseph did in the scripture. At 17 years old God gave him a dream that he was going to lead a nation. His brothers were jealous and threw him into a pit, ended up selling him as a slave. Joseph worked in Egypt for a high-ranking military officer. He was lied about, falsely accused and put in prison. He had plenty of opportunities to live in the past, "How could my brothers treat me this way? I'm gonna get revenge, you just wait". He could have lived in the future, "God, you said I was gonna lead a nation, what happened"? But you never read where Joseph complained. As a slave he excelled, the owner put him in charge of his whole house. In prison he wasn't bitter, he helped another inmate, interpreted his dream. How could he keep such a good attitude after all he had been through? He stayed in the present. He didn't focus on looking back, "This is not fair". And he didn't only focus on looking ahead, "God, I'm in prison, when am I going to lead this nation". He made this choice to live in the present. His attitude was, "This is where God has me right now. I know he's ordering my steps, I'm not going to live upset about the bad breaks, I'm not going to live worried about my future, I'm going to make the most of this day".
See, we're always focused on the destination: the dream coming to pass, the problem turning around. You have to do like Joseph and learn to enjoy where you are, while you're on the way to where you're going. Life is not about the destination, it's about the journey. That's where you grow, see fulfillment and the favor of God. So after you reach this goal, there'll be another goal, there'll be another challenge. If we're not careful, we'll rush through the day trying to get to the destination. Slow down and enjoy the journey. Yes, there will be bumps in the road, disappointments, things you don't understand - that's where you have to say, "I'm not looking back. Not gonna get bitter and let that sour my life. Not going to live worried, wondering how it's going to work out - I'm going to stay in the present, I'm going to enjoy where God has me right now, knowing that he will get me to where I'm supposed to be". Takes maturity to enjoy where you are even though you have challenges, even there are things that you don't understand.
13 years after Joseph was thrown into that pit he was made the prime minister of Egypt. He saw vindication, promotion, influence, greater than he had ever imagined. But what a shame if he would have spent those years discouraged, worried, frustrated. What God promised you is going to come to pass. The dream he put in your part is already on the schedule. The question is: how are you going to spend the time while you're waiting? Looking back in regrets, upset? Looking forward, wondering why it's not happening? No, stay in the present. Take it one day at a time. You don't have grace for tomorrow. If you're trying to figure out the next 20 years, you're going to be frustrated. You have grace for this day. When you get to tomorrow, there'll be grace for that day.
"Well, Joel, I'm worried because I don't understand, can't see how this situation is going to work out". You're not supposed to see how, this is what faith is all about. You have to trust that God is in control, that he's planned out all of your days, that he knows what's best for you. Instead of fighting where you are, learn to embrace where you are - that's what Joseph did. It wasn't comfortable, he didn't like it, but he embraced it, believing that God was ordering his steps. I don't want you to get 10 years down the road and think "Man, if I'd known he's going to turn out this good, I would have enjoyed my life, I would have spent more time with my family, I would have enjoyed raising my children, I would have enjoyed working at this job".
I talked to a lady, she's worked as an executive, very successful for this large company. She had been there 19 years when she was unexpectedly let go. Wasn't any kind of wrongdoing, the company was just restructuring and didn't need her. She was disappointed, but she knew something else would open up. She has two master's degrees, very experienced, very personable, a leader in her field. She applied to company after company, even in different states, but no response, no interest. She was surprised, she couldn't understand it. A couple of months after she lost her, job her mother became ill and needed someone to take care of her. She decided that she would do it while she was looking for that job. And every day she would go to her mother's house, they would visit, run errands, her mother came to her house and helped her fixed it up. She had so much fun with her mother, made so many great memories.
Ten months later unfortunately her mother passed. Three days after she laid her mother to rest she started getting one phone call after another from companies she had applied to months and months before. Not one offer, but four great offers came in. She accepted a position with more responsibility, more income, better environment. She said, "It's a position that I enjoy much more than my previous job". Look at how God works: that closed door, the company unexpectedly letting her go, seemed like a bad break, that wasn't fair. Another position not opening up for almost a year, with her credentials, with all her experience and education, that didn't make sense. She could have been sour, lived upset, why is this happening? But she made this choice to not live in the past, not let the disappointment steal her life, steal her joy. To not live in the future: why won't anything open up? Why can't I find a job? Instead she took that time to enjoy where God had her, she made the most of each day, she embraced where she was believing that God was directing her steps.
Had she not done that, she would have missed that time with her mother. Had she lived stressed out, she wouldn't have those memories that she'll cherish forever. Don't fight where you are, embrace where you are. Make the most of each day. Yes, she needed a job, but don't get so focused on the future that you miss the beauty of this day. Yes, she was disappointed that she was let go, but don't let the past keep you from seeing the good things in your life right now. God is ordering your steps. Sometimes we don't understand it, it's not comfortable, but like Joseph: all the disappointments, the delays, the betrayals, they were a part of God's plan to get him to the throne. He didn't fight it, he embraced it, he kept a good attitude. He did his best despite what came against him.
God is going to get you to your destiny, he's going to work all things for your good. While you're waiting, when you don't see anything happening, things aren't turning around, trust Him enough to enjoy your life. See the good in each day. Be grateful for what you have. The song says, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it get away". Once we live this day, we can't get it back. Are you living it in tomorrow, focused only on your dreams? Are you living it in yesterday, focus on what didn't work out, when all the while God has you at this place for a reason? There's a blessing in disguise. There's someone you can connect with. There's a test that you can pass.
If Joseph would have been bitter, he would have never helped the butler. The butler is the one that helped open the door for him to get out. The scripture says "Make the most of this day". Doesn't say "Make the most of tomorrow", "Make the most of yesterday". What are you doing with today? Are you embracing where you are or are you fighting where you are? Are you present and connected or present and disengaged? When life called the role today, did you show up passionate, enjoying your family, looking forward to another great day?
"Joel, I would, but I've had disappointments, people did me wrong. My dream hasn't worked out". How do you know that's not leading you to your destiny? God is ordering your steps. May not be good, but he wouldn't have allowed it if it was going to stop your purpose. Don't get 20 years down the road, see it all come together and have to say "Wow, I spent so much of my life worried, not enjoying my family, mad at people that did me wrong". Let it go. It's all a part of the process. These are tests that we have to pass. We can get to our destination enjoying the journey, seeing God's favor despite the opposition, or we can get there sour, worried, upset. I'm asking you to live in the present one day at a time. Yes, it's good to have goals, keep your vision in front of you, but don't let what hasn't happened frustrate you.
Make up your mind you're going to enjoy each day, enjoy the people you work with, enjoy the beauty of creation. Take time to smell the roses. All through the day it's good to take a few deep breaths and just breathe in God's goodness, breathe in where you are. Not trying to rush through this part of the day and get to the next, but take time to enjoy the present.
One thing this pandemic has done is: it's helped us to have a new perspective. Sometimes we would complain about normal, "I don't want to go to work, get these kids ready for school, drive into traffic, cook dinner, have to clean up", but when the pandemic shut everything down, month after month, we couldn't go to work, couldn't send our kids to cool school, couldn't leave the house, now normal looks pretty good. When something is taken away, and you get it back, you tend to appreciate it more. Maybe that job we didn't like wasn't so bad. Maybe the traffic doesn't have to frustrate us. Maybe that person at work that used to get on our nerves, believe it or not, we're looking forward to seeing that jerk, I mean that man. We have a new perspective: we're alive, we have breath to breathe, we had strength to get out of bed, we have a family to love, we have a place to live, we have peace in our mind, we have the favor of God.
When you realize this day is a gift, you'll live it to the full. Not depending on your past, not based on your future, but you'll say like David "This is the day the Lord has made. I'm not going to just drag through it, I'm going to be glad in it. Not just going to be present, I'm going to be connected, I'm going to make the most of it". If you'll do this, I believe and declare: you're going to have better relationships, you're going to have more joy and fulfillment. Like with Joseph, negative situations are about to turn around. Promotion is coming, healing is coming, breakthroughs are coming, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it can you say amen today? Amen.