Joel Osteen - I Still Believe
I want to talk to you today about I Still Believe. We all have promises we're standing on, and dreams we're hoping will come to pass. It's easy to believe it first, but what happens when nothing is improving? We've had setbacks, the door didn't open, our health didn't get better - that's a test. Before the promise comes to pass, most of the time you have to go from "I believe", to "I still believe". "I was hoping to get a good medical report, wasn't what I thought, but I still believe I'm going to get well. Been praying for my child a long time, hasn't gotten back on course, but I still believe he'll fulfill his destiny. The company overlooked me for a promotion, wasn't fair, but I still believe increase is coming". Still believe means you're not moved by what's not changing, you're not discouraged by how long it's taking, by the setback, the disappointment - you know God is still on the throne, he's ordering your steps, what he's promised is on the way.
Don't get talked out of what you're believing for. When you're tempted to get discouraged, just switch over from "I believe" to "I still believe". "The pandemic has slowed my business, but I still believe I'm going to have a blessed year. Struggled with this addiction a long time, thoughts tell me it's permanent, but I still believe I'm going to live free. Or I don't see how I can go to college, I don't have the funds, but I still believe God will make a way, still believe favor is coming".
God is looking for I-Still-Believe people. You had every right to give up: the disappointment should have discouraged you, the setback should have talked you out of it, you haven't seen any sign of things changing, but you keep believing, you keep praising, you keep thanking God it's on the way, you keep acting like it's going to happen. All the facts say "It's impossible", your attitude is "That's okay, God can do the impossible". In the natural there's no way, "I'm not worried, God is supernatural". The medical report says, "You're not going to get well, just learn to live with it". I know God can do what medicine cannot do. The number of my days he will fulfill.
Or you tried to accomplish the dream, no doors open, you were turned down for that long, people you need weren't there for you. Thoughts will tell you "It's too late, you're too old, would it happen by now". That's all a part of the process. God didn't give you the dream and not have a way to bring it to pass. He's already taken into account all the setbacks, the delays, the betrayals, the closed doors. He's watching to see if you still believe.
Are you going to get talked out of it, give up on a dream because it hasn't happened yet? Let go of that promise because you haven't seen anything improving? God didn't change his mind. He doesn't abort dreams. What he's promised is still on the way, he just needs some I-Still-Believe faith, faith that says "I've seen the obstacles, the opposition is much bigger, but I still believe we can get the Compaq Center. We don't have the finances, I don't know how we'll pay for it, but I still believe Jehovah Jireh, the Lord my provider will supply our needs". Or I've heard the naysayers, they say I'm not qualified, I don't have the experience, but I still believe I can step up and pastor the church, I still believe I can leave my Mark.
Don't get talked out of your dreams: switch over to I-Still-Believe. "I still believe" means the disappointment is not going to cause you to get discouraged. The negative chatter, people who don't believe in you is not going to dampen your faith. How long it's taking, who did you wrong, the environment you were raised in is not going to stop your destiny. Pass the test. God knows how long it's been, he sees the disappointments, how you prayed, done the right thing but it hasn't improved - your time is coming. It's not too late, you haven't missed it, circumstances didn't stop it, what God put in your heart is still on the way.
There was a young boy that grew up in a small village in East Africa. He loved school, loved to learn. As a little boy his dream was to go to college, that was unheard of, the people there were very poor. On top of that they were suffering from a huge famine, struggling to survive. His father was killed when he was 7 years old. His mother died when he was 12. He went to live with his grandmother, she became very ill, and he ended up his her main caretaker. He would get up at five in the morning and study for an hour, then it was an hour and a half walk to get water for the day. After making his grandmother breakfast, he would go to the little village school. All the odds were against him: how could he get a college education? An orphan, living in the slums, no money, no one to look after him. But this young man had I-Still-Believe faith. Despite his environment, despite what looked impossible, every night he would pray "God, I want to go to college. I want to make a difference with my life. Even though I don't see how it can work out, I still believe you can make it happen".
In that country the children only went to school through junior high. You had to pay for high school. Only one percent could afford it. At 12 years old one night he had a dream: he saw a house with a man in it named Mr. Stanley, he was from a foreign country. In this dream Mr. Stanley helped him with his tuition. He knew exactly where the house was. The next day he went there. There were guards all around it, he told the officers he was there to see Mr. Stanley. They were surprised that he knew the man's name. Intrigued Mr. Stanley allowed him in. The young man explained his situation, how he had a dream to continue learning, but didn't have the funds. Mr. Stanley was so impressed, he said "I'll not only pay your tuition, but I'll buy all your books and all your supplies".
He did so well that the teachers got him an internship working in the parliament. When he finished high school, he received a full scholarship to come to college in the United States. Now he's back home doing great things in his country. When you have I-Still-Believe faith miracles are set in motion, angels go to work, favor, healing, divine connections. God will make things happen that seem unlikely, out of the ordinary. Are you letting your circumstances talk you out of what God put in your heart? You believed at one time, but you had obstacles, didn't work out, nobody would help you, now you've quit believing... God still wants to bring it to pass, but you have to get an agreement with him. Say "God, I still believe it can happen. I still believe I can have a baby. I still believe my family can be restored. I still believe I can live healthy and whole. I still believe I can start my business, write my book, pay my house off".
"Well, Joel, I tried and it didn't work out" - that's part of the process. That doesn't mean it's not going to happen, those are tests that you have to pass. God wouldn't have allowed the difficulty, the delay, the disappointment, if it was going to stop your purpose. You have to have a made-up mind that you're going to believe until you see that promise come to pass.
This is what Abraham. Did God gave him the promise that his wife Sarah was going to have a baby, but they were too old, Abraham was in his 80s, Sarah had gone through the change of life, she was barren never had children. If God had given her this promise in her 20s, or in her 30s, that would make sense, she could believe it, but not now. She's way past the childbearing years. Sometimes God puts promises in our heart that seem too late. We would believe it if it happened earlier, but now we don't see how. Many times God does things out of normal timing, he has unscheduled blessings. We didn't see it coming, we thought we missed our chance, that season was over - you don't know what God is up to. He's going to do some things out of season, when it doesn't typically happen. You weren't next in line, but suddenly you're promoted. The medical report says it's too late, suddenly your health turns around. Or you've given up on that dream, suddenly the door opens.
I can imagine when Abraham heard the promise at first he was excited, seemed unlikely, but faith rose in his heart. Said, "God, I believe you'll give me a son". But a few months went by and nothing happened. A couple of years - still nothing. Now thoughts of doubt started to whisper, "Are you sure God said you're going to have a child? Don't you think it would have happened by now? How is this even possible in the first place, look how old you are"? More years passed, Sarah started to get frustrated. She told Abraham to sleep with her maid, she thought "If I can't have a baby, at least this maid will have one, and we'll count this our child". They had a baby, but it wasn't the promised child. You don't have to help God out, try to manipulate things, force doors to open, convince people to be for you - let God do it his way. Don't get in a hurry. You have to be mature enough to believe the promise is coming, and not be frustrated while you're waiting. It's through faith and patience we inherit the promises. God's timing is the best timing.
Years went by, still no child, no sign of it happening, they're both getting older. Abraham was at a critical point, he had plenty of reasons to get discouraged, give up on the promise, but the scripture says (Romans 4:18), "Against all hope, he hoped on in faith". He came to this place where he went from "I believe" to "I still believe". "I'm almost 100 years old, we've made mistakes, had disappointments, but I still believe what God promised". I can hear people laughing, "Come on, Abraham, you're an old man, you're wasting your time, you can't have a baby". Abraham said, "No, thanks, I know my God is faithful. I'm not going to let time talk me out of it, disappointments, people that didn't help me, negative chatter - I still believe my baby is on the way". He had a made up mind. Despite all the negative circumstances he chose to have I-Still-Believe faith.
When Sarah was 99 years old, against all odds she conceived and gave birth to a son that they named Isaac. The name Isaac means laughter. When you do like Abraham and still believe, you're going to have some blessings that make you laugh. God is going to do some things that surprise you, open doors you never dreamed would open, turn situations around that look permanent. Where you're in such amazement, such awe that you're filled with joy, all you can do is say "Look at the goodness of God".
Now maybe what you're believing for is taking longer than you thought. You don't see how it can happen, thoughts are whispering, "You're wasting your time, it's never going to work out". Instead of going from I-Believe to i-gave-up, i-got-discouraged, nothing-was-happening, i-had-setbacks, do like Abraham go from I-Believe to I-Still-Believe. "The odds are against me, but I still believe I can accomplish my dreams. I've had this illness a long time, but I still believe I can get well. I was raised in dysfunction, a rough environment, but I still believe I can live an abundant, victorious life. I still believe I can break limitations of the past. I still believe I can set a new standard".
Before you see the promise, the healing, the dream, you're going to have a reason to quit believing. "I was going after my dream, but these people walked away, they didn't keep their word" - that's a test. Are you going to give up? Or are you going to say, "It wasn't fair, they did me wrong, but God is my vindicator. They didn't stop my purpose. What was meant for my harm God's turning to my advantage. I still believe". "We were trying to have a child, Joel, but experts say there's no way. We took the treatments, nothing more we can do". You're at a critical point. Are you going to settle there, think "It's not meant to be"? Or are you going to say, "God, I know you're the giver of all good things. You have the final say. I don't see a way, but I know you still have a way, I still believe".
A friend of mine wanted to start a business. He knew God put the dream in his heart, and he had done a lot of research, came up with this very impressive business plan. He needed funding. He went to his bank where he had done projects within before, he knew all the people. They studied his plan and turned him down, they didn't think it would be a successful business. He was disappointed, but he went to another bank, same thing. He was turned down again, another time, another and another. Thoughts were telling him, "Just accept it. It's not going to happen. All the experts say it's not going to work out". He could have been discouraged, given up, but every time he left a bank his attitude was, "They may have said no, but I know God says yes. I still believe".
31 banks said, "It's not a good idea. Give up on your dream, let it go". He said, "No, thanks, I still believe". Bank number 32 said, "This looks like a great idea". They gave him the loan. Today he's blessed beyond his wildest dreams. His business has grown even expanded into different states. If you're going to see the fullness of what God has for you, you have to learn this principle to go from "I-Believe" to "I-Still-Believe". There will be people that try to talk you out of your promise. They can't see what God put in your heart. Don't expect everyone to be for you. Sometimes it's our own thoughts that tell us "It's not going to happen, how it will never work out". Tune all that out. Don't give the doubt the time of day, keep your mind filled with faith, filled with hope.
The scripture says (Mark 6:5), "Jesus couldn't do any miracles in his hometown because of their unbelief". Doubt will keep you from your destiny. There's a battle taking place in our mind. Thoughts whispering, "You're not going to get well. You'll never meet the right person. You can't pass that course in college". If you dwell on those thoughts you'll get talked out of what you're believing for.
I was out riding my bike recently, and it was a beautiful day, I was enjoying the ride. I felt my phone buzzing in my pocket. I pulled it out, it was a text from a number I didn't recognize. It said "Urgent message. Your phone has been compromised. All the data is about to be lost. Click here to save them". I knew it was a scam. If you click, they get your information. Didn't pay any attention, went back on my ride. About five minutes later another text. This time the word "Urgent" was blinking, "Time is of the essence. You must respond now". It looks so official, was so alarming, I thought: is this real? I called my office, they said "No, no, no, don't open it, it's a scam". I felt better got back on my bike. Five minutes later another text. This time there was a countdown clock: "59, 58, 57... Your phone is about to disintegrate, the world's gonna come to an end if you don't click now".
All these dire warnings, they were so good at being alarming and playing on fears and putting enough urgency that you think you need to click it. Their whole goal is to get you to take the bait. They know if you click they get your information, and they do what they want. That's kind of how doubt works. Thoughts come to our mind that are negative, discouraging, alarming. "You can't accomplish your dream, you don't have the talent. That problem will never resolve, you've had it so long. Your health is not going to improve". If you click on it so to speak, if you start dwelling on it, "Well, maybe I'm not going to get well. These problems are big, I don't see how it's going to work out", before long that's going to contaminate your software. You'll be negative, discouraged, giving up on dreams. Don't take debate, it's a scam. Those are lies to try to defraud you out of your purpose, to try to keep you from seeing the awesome things God has in store.
You can't stop the negative thoughts from coming, but you don't have to click, you don't have to dwell on them. While you're waiting on a promise the enemy will work overtime, "Would have happened by now. Look at all you've been through. Don't get your hopes up, Abraham, you must have heard God wrong, you're a hundred years old". Do yourself a favor, ignore it. Don't pay it any attention. When the lies come, just say "No, thanks I still believe". "But the odds are against you"! Yes, but I still believe. "It's been so long, you should be worried, it's not going to work out" - don't click on that, that's spam, that's junk mail, keep your mind filled with faith. God is on the throne, he's ordering your steps, he's planned out your days for good. What he started he's going to finish.
You can say like David, "Though I am surrounded by trouble, I will know no fear, for the Lord is my light and my salvation, for surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life". Clear out all the negative. God didn't bring you this far to leave you. Yes, we're going to have disappointments, things we don't understand. It may take longer than we thought, but that doesn't mean it's not going to happen.
I talked to a lady that was diagnosed with cancer of the central nervous system. The prognosis was not very good at all - with no treatment a few months to live, with treatment maybe a couple of years at most. She lost all of her ability to function. She couldn't swallow, had constant care. All the facts said she was done, it was just a matter of time, but this lady had I-Still-Believe faith. Despite how it looked in the natural, in her thoughts all through the day, "God is restoring health back into me. Nothing can snatch me out of his hands. I will live and not die". She wasn't denying the facts, she was simply choosing to believe what God said about her. She took the treatment. After six sessions she was declared cancer-free. Her doctor said, "In 25 years of practice he'd never seen anyone recover like she did".
What you're facing is not too hard for our God. No problem he can't turn around, no dream that he can't bring to pass. The scripture said, "Abraham had unwavering faith", that means you're not going to be talked out of what God put in your heart. You're not moved by what's not happening, by how long it's taking, by the setbacks - you have a made up mind, you believe that God is in control, and that what he promised will come to pass. No person can stop it, no bad break, no delay, no sickness - all the forces of darkness cannot keep you from your destiny.
When you not only believe, but you take it one step further you still believe, you believe despite the medical report, despite the bad break, despite how impossible it looks, then you're going to see God do unusual, uncommon things. He's going to take you where you can't go on your own. It's very powerful when you have I-Still-Believe faith. "This sickness may seem permanent, but I still believe God can turn it around. I lost a loved one, I should be bitter, but I still believe there is beauty for these. I've had some bad breaks, disappointments, but I still believe my latter days will be better than my former days. I still believe God's plans for me are for good".
Numbers chapter 13, Moses sent 12 men in to spy out the Promised Land. God had delivered the Israelites from slavery, parted the Red Sea, brought them safely through the desert, now they were camped next door to the Promised Land. After 40 days 10 of the spies came back and said, "Moses, the land is beautiful. It's like nothing we've seen. But there are giants in the land, the people are huge, we'll never defeat them". Up to that point they had believed, they were excited, they knew this was their dream coming to pass, but when they saw the obstacles, how big the people were, instead of making this choice that I'm asking us to make "We still believe", they got discouraged, gave up on their dream. That negative report spread throughout the whole camp. Before long all two million people were afraid, complaining. They turned around and went back into the desert, they never made it in to the Promised Land. They ended up wandering 40 years in the desert. They never did make it into the Promised Land.
Before you see dreams come to pass, before you see healing, promotion, restoration, don't be surprised if you find giants on your land, obstacles, disappointments, setbacks that look too big. How could you defeat the sickness? The report came back worse. How could you accomplish the dream, you lost your main client? You thought that person was the right one, but it didn't work out? That's a test. Are you going to do like them, get discouraged, settle where you are? Or are you going to have I-Still-Believe faith? You have to say like the apostle Paul, "None of these things move me". God wouldn't have brought you to it, if he wasn't going to bring you through it. He's in control. What you're facing may be bigger than you, but it's not bigger than our God. Greater is he that's in you, that he that's coming against you. This is not the time to give up, turn around, start complaining - this is the time to show God what you're made of.
"Yes, it looks impossible, I didn't see it coming, don't know how it can work out, but God, I still believe you're on the throne. You make rivers in the desert. You resurrect what looks dead. You surround me with favor. You being for me is more than the world being against me". Don't be afraid by the opposition, that's a sign that you're close to your victory. There will always be giants on your Promised Land, always some reason to retreat - don't take the bait. In the face of the giant dare to say "I still believe". The medical report didn't get better - "I still believe". Your family member has gotten worse - "I still believe". You do your part and God will bring giants down, he'll take care of what's trying to stop you.
The other two spies, Joshua and Caleb saw the same giants, the same obstacles, but they had I-Still-Believe faith. They said, "Yes, Moses, the giants are big, yes they're powerful, but we are well able. Let us go in at once and take the land". Out of those two million people they were the only two that ever made it into the Promised Land. This shows us: when you have I-Still-Believe faith - you're the exception. Most people are going to get discouraged, most are going to quit believing when they see the giants. Ten spies had faith and gave up. Two had faith and kept believing.
My challenge is: don't be a part of the 80 percent, be a part of the 20, be the exception. It's easy to get talked out of your dreams, it's easy to dwell on the negative, how big the obstacle is, how it's never going to work out - doubters are a dime a dozen. If you're going to see the fullness of your destiny you have to be a Joshua, be a Caleb. You don't deny the facts, but you're not moved by the facts. In the face of the giants you declare "I still believe". If you'll do this, I believe and declare: you're going to make it into your Promised Land. What God put in your heart is on the way. Dreams are coming to pass, problems are turning around, healing is coming, favor, restoration, breakthroughs, new levels of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen? Amen.