Joel Osteen - Extra Mile Blessings
I want to talk to you today about Extra Mile Blessings. There are times God asks us to do things that are hard, things that don't make sense: to give something to others when we need it more than them. To take a step of faith when we don't have the experience. To forgive someone that doesn't deserve it. Everything in our logic says, "This is not right. That's too much. It's not fair". God is asking you to go the extra mile. Anytime you obey, there's a blessing that follows. If you're going to see extra mile blessings, you have to have extra mile obedience. When you do the hard thing that God's asking you to do, it's not because God's trying to make your life miserable, it's because he has something awesome coming your way. He's setting you up for promotion, divine connections, favor that you've never seen.
You can't reach the fullness of your destiny without extra mile obedience. There are good breaks, increase, healing that are only connected to doing the right thing when it's hard. When you pass that test, you will come into moments that thrust you into your purpose. It's good to obey into small things, that's important, to be kind to a neighbor, to give to charity, a co-worker is rude and you let it go - that's not real difficult. But when you're about to go to a new level, when you're about to see something unusual, out of the ordinary, don't be surprised if God asks you to do a hard thing, to go the extra mile. "God, I'll keep giving my offerings each week, but not that money I have saved up for my dreams. I'll forgive that relative that offended me yesterday, but not that one that hurt me five years ago. I'll go to work on time, do my best, I can't apply for the management position, God you know I'm not qualified". There are extra mile blessings waiting for you, something out of the ordinary. The question is: will you have extra mile obedience?
Is God asking you to do something that seems too hard, uncomfortable, to break away from friends that'll cause you new to compromise, to be more disciplined in what you're watching, to go back to school and sharpen your skills? Everything in your reasoning will tell you, "You don't have time. It's not going to work. Don't rock the boat". Yes, it may be difficult, but if you could see the blessing that is attached to that obedience, if you could see the joy, the fulfillment, the provision, then you would dig down deep and do it.
First kings 17, there was a widow that lived in the city of zeraphath. Her husband had died, and now she was living alone with her one son. There was a drought in the land, dried up all the crops, she couldn't find any groceries. All she had left was a little flower, and a little oil, just enough for one meal. She was out picking up sticks to build a fire, she was going to cook her last meal. She had already accepted: once they ate it this was it. A few days earlier the prophet Elijah was at the Jordan river where he had been living. Every morning the ravens, these birds would come to him, and that's how he survived. Well, the ravens quit coming, God said to him in verse 8, "Go to the city of Zarephath, there is a widow that will feed you there". It's interesting that God sent him to a widow that didn't have any food. When God does things that don't make sense, that means he's up to something out of the ordinary, something supernatural is about to happen.
Elijah came walking into town, saw the widow gathering up the wood. He said, "Excuse me ma'am. I'm traveling through the city, would you please bring me a cup of water"? That was no problem. She was kind, and giving, she stopped what she was doing. Despite her own challenges she went to get the water. Most of us are like her. If it's not too much, we're going to do it. If it's a small thing, no problem. But here's the test: as she was going to get the water, Elijah said, "Ma'am, I'm hungry too. Please bring me a loaf of bread as well". The water was easy, the bread was hard. She said, "Sir, I swear by the Lord your God, I don't have any bread in my house. I only have enough flour to make me and my son some food. We're going to eat it then we're going to die".
You would think Elijah would say, "I'm so sorry. I'm going to help you get food. I'm gonna try to find you something to eat". Instead after she just poured out her heart, after she just swore that she didn't have any food, Elijah said in effect, "I understand you don't have enough for all of us, but make me a loaf of bread first. Give me what I need. If you'll do this, the Lord God of Israel says, 'there will always be plenty of flour and plenty of oil left in your containers'". Elijah was saying, "If you'll have extra mile obedience, if you'll do something that doesn't make sense, that doesn't seem logical, nothing in your reasoning says 'make him a meal when you need a meal', but if you'll do it you'll see an extra mile blessing, you'll see supernatural provision, supernatural increase".
What God asks you to do is not always going to make sense, it's not always going to be logical - that's what faith is all about. Give away what you need, make him a meal first. This widow didn't understand it. Her thoughts told her, "You're making a mistake. This couldn't be God. You and your son should be eating this meal". But this woman dared to obey. She took that step of faith and made him a meal first. Verse 16 says, "She and her son continued to eat from the flower and the oil, for no matter how much they used there was always plenty left in their containers". When you have extra mile obedience you set miracles into motion, God begins to pour out blessings, open up doors, bring supernatural provisions, supernatural healing, things that you couldn't make happen, things that will thrust you into new levels of your destiny. Are you missing the great things God wants to do because you're not willing to do the hard things? Don't talk to yourself out of it: the more difficult it is, the greater the blessing.
God could have had Elijah show up, tell the woman, "God wants you to know that he sees you're struggling, he's going to supply all of your needs". He could have done it without her feeding Elijah, but most of the time an act of obedience is required. If you'll do the hard thing when it doesn't seem logical, you don't feel like it, everything in your intellect is telling you this doesn't make sense. If you'll have this extra mile obedience you'll see God show out in your life. He wouldn't ask you to do something hard unless he had something amazing coming. Is he asking you to forgive someone that hurt you? You've been holding on for years, they don't deserve it, they were wrong. You're not excusing their behavior, you're letting go of the poison. If you could see what God has in store on the other side of the forgiveness, you wouldn't think twice. There are extra mile blessings, new relationships, new opportunities, greater joy.
Think about Joseph. His brothers betrayed him, he went through 13 years of injustice, rejection, in prison, dream shattered, all because of his brother's jealousy. One day they showed up at the palace, now he was in charge, vindicated, promoted. His brothers were standing before him, trying to buy food in a famine. This was Joseph's big chance to get them back, get even. Everything in him said, "Treat them the way they treated you", but Joseph could hear that still small voice saying, "Forgive. Be good to them. Let it go". It's one thing to forgive when someone's rude to you at the office, doesn't take a lot of effort, but these brothers sold Joseph into slavery, they took his freedom. He lost years of his life. Being away from his family, not following his dreams, because of what they did to him. In one sense he had a right to be angry, to get revenge, but Joseph understood this principle: he had extra mile obedience, he forgave people that didn't deserve it, he forgave the people that tried to ruin his life. Because God could trust him to do the hard thing, forgive when it wasn't fair, be good to people that weren't good to him, God poured out extra mile blessings he put Joseph in charge of the whole nation.
When you have extra mile obedience, you do what God's asking you to do when it's hard, it's not fair, it doesn't make sense, there's no limit to how high God will take you. Is God asking you to break away from some people that are pulling you down? You know they're a negative influence, causing you to compromise. "Joel, they've been my friend for years. We always hang out". I know it's not easy, but where could you go, what could you become if you did the hard thing? God wouldn't be asking you if he didn't have extra mile blessings in store. Is God asking you to keep a good attitude in a negative situation? You're working hard, but not seeing growth. Praying for your child they're not changing. You lost a client, business is slow, you're tempted to complain, live sour, being critical. No, do the hard thing, keep being your best, keep thanking God, keep being good to people, keep declaring the victory. When you do the hard thing you set miracles into motion, angels go to work, good brakes come looking for you.
The early 1970s Lakewood started to grow, we had less than 200 people for 13 years. Now, my father's dreams were starting to come to pass. We were in the original building, the little feed store, we needed a larger auditorium. One Sunday my father announced to the congregation that we were going to build a new sanctuary that held a thousand people. He asked everyone if they would pray about what they could give toward it, in a few weeks he was going to take up a special offering. The whole church was excited, people gave generously, we had enough to get started. Well, there was a small Spanish-speaking church down the road, and they had been building a new church building for months. It was going very slowly. One afternoon my father stopped by to see how they were doing. He had never met them, didn't know anyone, he just wanted to be friendly and let them know that we were praying for them.
They told how they started their building, but it cost more than they thought. They had some setbacks and ran out of funds. Now it was just sitting there half finished, had part of the roof, part of the walls, and nothing inside. The next day my father heard that still small voice saying, "I want you to give that money you took up for your new building to that Spanish church, so they can finish their building". His first thought was, "Get behind me Satan. That could not be God. That money is for our sanctuary". He began to reason it out, "We need it more than they do. Our church is bigger, we're going to have more of an impact", on and on. But he couldn't get away from it. Down deep he knew he was supposed to give that money.
Like Elijah and the widow, it was a test. Will you make me a meal first? Will you do a hard thing, something you don't understand? Give away what you need? After debating a few days he finally decided to do it. The Spanish pastor was thrilled, he couldn't believe it, they were able to finish their building. What's interesting is the funds for Lakewood's building started coming in from all over. A lady flew into town that my father had never met, never been to Lakewood, she had read some of his books. She handed my father a check for more than what we gave the Spanish church. One lady out of the blue, like that widow woman, there was supernatural provision. The money came in for the foundation, then the steel, then the wall, the seats, the sound system, the whole building was built debt-free. We never lacked for resources not just that building, but my father built another sanctuary, and another, and another paid cash for everyone, never borrowed. The provision kept coming. It all started when he did a hard thing. He gave away what he needed.
When you have extra mile obedience, you're going to see these extra mile blessings. This really boils down to a question of trust. God was saying to the widow, "If you take care of the prophet, if you give your last meal, do you trust me that I'll take care of you"? He was saying to my father, "If you give the funds to that Spanish church, do you trust me that I'll give you the funds for your church"? "If you forgive that person that hurts you, do you trust me that I'll make it up to you"? "If you step out in faith, take that position, do you trust me that I'll give you the confidence, the skill, the ability to succeed"? On the way to your destiny God is going to ask you to do things that require great trust. You can't have extra mile obedience, if you're not convinced that God is going to take care of you, that he has the favor, the blessings, the funds, the people, the confidence to get you to your purpose.
The last Sunday that we were in our former location, right before we moved here to the Compaq Center, I was driving home that afternoon after church, and it was very emotional, pulling out of the parking lot for the last time. I'd spent my whole life at that location. I was leaving there, there was a rainbow in the sky, looked like it stretched from the old building to this place. It was like God was saying, "I'm doing a new thing". I felt very grateful. About that time I drove by that Spanish-speaking church that my parents and the first congregation had helped build some 30 years earlier. They had a little marquee out front, and said, "Thank you Lakewood for giving us our building".
And I thought about, I wonder where I would be if my father had not had extra mile obedience? Had he not done the right thing when it was hard? Had he not proven to God that he would trust him even when he didn't understand, even when it didn't make sense, would I be here? Would I be seeing the blessing and favor on my life? Where will your children be 30 years from now, if you will have extra mile obedience? What kind of good breaks, abundance, favor will they see, because you did the right thing when it was hard? You could have played it safe, not taking any risk, held onto the hurts, but like this widow you said, "God, I trust you. Doesn't make sense, but I'm going to do it even though I don't understand it".
You had extra mile obedience, get ready, you're going to see extra mile blessings. Blessings that not only catapult you ahead, but your children and grandchildren will be better off. They will walk in favor and blessing because of you. Any time God asks you to do something hard, that's a sign that something big is in your future. The widowed woman went from getting by each day, having just enough to survive, to having abundance, provision that never ran out. My father went from believing for one sanctuary, hoping to have the funds to pay for that thousand seat auditorium, to having the funds over the years to build multiple auditoriums, much bigger than he ever imagined.
Don't put off the hard thing. God wouldn't be asking you to do it if he didn't have something much better in your future. But sometimes we let fear hold us back, "What if I do it, Joel, it doesn't work? What if I make the profit the meal and I starve? What if I give these funds, and we can't build our sanctuary"? David said (Psalm 37:25), "I was young and now I'm old and I've never once seen the righteous forsaken". God is not going to let you down. Don't let fear and doubt keep you from seeing the greatness of our God. He's going to ask you to do things that don't make sense, it's because faith has to do with your heart and not necessarily your mind. That's why the scripture says, "Lean not to your own understanding".
If you can figure it out, make it work on paper, you've calculated how it can happen, then you don't need faith. But when you're like this widow, you calculate, "I have enough flour for one meal. I've made bread my whole life. I've concluded: we're limited", that's when faith has to kick in. "God, if you want me to make the profit a meal first, you want me to do something I don't understand, I trust you. It doesn't make sense to me, but I realize I'm natural and you're supernatural, you control the universe, you spoke worlds into existence. You stopped the sun for Joshua, you gave Sarah a baby at 90 years old, you parted the sea from Moses, you opened the prison doors for Paul, you brought water out of a rock for the Israelites. I realize you're Jehovah Jireh, my Provider, my Healer, my Deliverer, my Waymaker, my promise keeper, my miracle worker".
Jesus was on the sea shore of Galilee about to teach the people. So many were gathered, he didn't have enough room. He saw a boat over to the side, and the owner, a man named Peter was cleaning his nets. Jesus had never met Peter, but he asked to borrow the boat. He pushed out from the shore and started teaching, the scripture says Peter had fished all night and caught nothing. He was a little frustrated, tired, ready to get home, as soon as this man gets out of his boat. When Jesus finished, he asked Peter to do something that didn't seem logical. He said (Luke 5:4), "Peter, launch out into the deep and you will catch a great haul of fish".
I can imagine Peter thinking, "Excuse me, I'm a professional fisherman, you're a teacher. I didn't tell you how to teach, I've been doing this for years, I know when to fish, this is not the right time". Everything in his reasoning said, "Don't do it, going to be a waste of time". He could have said, "Jesus, sir, I appreciate your suggestions, thanks for your advice, but that doesn't make sense". He could have walked away, and we would have never heard of Peter. But I love the fact that even though Peter didn't understand it, even though it went against his logic, he said (Luke 5:5), "Jesus, we've worked all night and caught nothing, nevertheless, at your word we will go back out." he threw out his net and caught so many fish, that his neck began to break.
When you have extra mile obedience, God will give you net breaking blessings, blessings you can't explain, increase it doesn't make sense. You weren't the most qualified, you didn't have the seniority, but the promotion came to you, the healing came to you, the right people came to you. It's significant there were no fish there a few hours before, but God knows how to bring the fish to your nets. What you tried before may not have worked, but when you hear God say, "Do it again", don't reason it out, don't talk yourself out of it, go back out. God is putting the fish, the provision, the healing, the good breaks right where you need it. Wasn't there last time? But it's going to be there next time.
A couple of years after Victoria and I were married we sold our town home. It was a beautiful place, backed up to the woods, and we made a good profit and we're looking for a house. One day Victoria called me at work, said "Joel, I found our new house, come see it". It was this old rundown house. It had been abandoned, doors were missing, had holes in the roof, there were buckets inside to catch the water. Had major foundation problems, the floors were all crooked. Nothing about the house was good, but it was on a nice piece of property close into the city. Victoria was so excited, she said "Joel, we can fix this up, and do this, and do that, we'll have fun living here".
I thought she had lost her mind, it didn't make sense. We just come from this beautiful town home, this place was a tear down. But when I would get quiet, I would hear that still small voice saying, "She's right, this is your property". I felt peace about it. We bought it and fixed it up. A year later a builder knocked on the door, and asked if we would sell the property. I said, "No, thanks, it's not for sale". He said, "How about if I give you this amount"? I said, "Like I said, we'd love to sell it". We sold him half the property, he built two houses on it, one for us and one for him. A year later we had a brand new beautiful home, something more than we ever imagined.
When you have extra mile obedience, you're going to see these extra mile blessings. Don't talk yourself out of what God is asking you to do. It's not always going to make sense. Make the prophet a meal first? Give the funds to the Spanish church? Go back out after we fished all night? Buy this old rundown house? Trust that God knows what's best for you. He'll never ask you to do a hard thing, unless there's something amazing coming. Sometimes we miss God's best, we miss the extra mile blessing, because we don't want to take a risk, we don't want to forgive, we don't want to give what we need. That's what's going to take you to the fullness of your destiny. That's where you'll see the greatness of our God.
My friends Craig and Samantha had their third child a while back. And for a couple of years everything was great, they began to notice little Connor wasn't developing like normal. He was diagnosed with autism, they're people of faith, they know God's in control, but it was still difficult. They could have sat around defeated, bitter, "Why did this happen"? But in the midst of their pain, Craig heard God say to him, "I'm going to use your son Connor to help people all over the world". Craig said, "God, my son can't even talk. He can't even ask for a cup of water, how's he going to help people"?
It wasn't long after that that Samantha walked in his room one night to put him into bed, he's just a small child. Conor had his Bible in his hand, he held it up and said, "This is my Bible. I am what it says I am" - he quoted the whole saying. He had been watching our videos, those words were the first he ever spoke. They were so thrilled, you heard him speaking on the video. Craig was the head of our children's ministry at the time, he realized we didn't have any programs for special needs children. Parents couldn't attend church with these children that are not able to sit through the service. He felt God telling him to start a ministry for special needs children.
He could have thought, "God, that's hard enough to raise our own son. Our hands are full, that doesn't make sense to take on more challenges". God was asking him to do a hard thing, to birth the ministry out of his pain. Craig and Samantha started the champions club for children with autism, and other special needs. The first month 300 new families joined the church. Today there are over 100 champions clubs in churches around the world. Craig had extra mile obedience, what happened? He has seen extra mile blessings. Just like God said, conor's influence is impacting people all over the world.
Is God asking you to do a hard thing, something that doesn't make sense, doesn't seem fair? If you'll take that step of faith, you'll see God show out in your life. It's easy to make excuses, reason it out, "What if I fail? They don't deserve it. I'm not really qualified". If you could see what's on the other side of that obedience, the joy, the favor, the promotion, the victory, then you wouldn't put it off. There are extra mile blessings waiting for you, blessings that will thrust you ahead. The way you release them is by having extra mile obedience. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: like the widow, you're going to see supernatural provision. Like Peter, net breaking blessings. Like my father, increase it affects your children. Like Craig and Samantha, out of your pain you will see your purpose, new doors opening, dreams coming to pass, favor that catapults you into your destiny, in Jesus name. If you receive it, can you say amen? Amen.