Full text of pastor Joel Osteen’s sermon #896 titled “If You Only Knew” which was delivered on Oct 03, 2021.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Joel Osteen – Pastor and author
God bless you. It’s a joy to have you with us today. If you are ever in our area, please stop by. Be a part of one of our services. These are the finest people in all of Houston, Texas right here at Lakewood. Also, hope you will stay connected with us during the week. We have a daily podcast you can download. Our YouTube channel, watch the messages anytime. You can follow us on social media. We’ll keep you encouraged and inspired.
I’d like to start with something funny. And I heard about these two men, Archie and Jack. They had debated their whole life as to whether Jesus was white or whether He was black. Archie was certain He was white. Jack was just as certain He was black.
As fate would have it, they died on the same day, rushed to the pearly gates, said, “Saint Peter, please tell us. We’ve been arguing our whole life: is Jesus white or is He black?”
About that time, Jesus stepped up and said, “buenos dias”.
Say it like you mean it.
This is my Bible. I am what it says I am, I have what it says I have, I can do what it says I can do. Today I will be taught the Word of God. I boldly confess my mind is alert; my heart is receptive; I will never be the same. In Jesus name. God bless you.
I want to talk to you today about: If You Only Knew.
We all go through disappointments in life and things we don’t understand. Sometimes we make mistakes and bring trouble on ourselves. It’s easy to get discouraged and lose our passion.
But God won’t allow anything to happen that will keep you from your purpose. He’s already taken into account every bad break, every person that walked away, every mistake.
What we can’t see is how He’s working behind the scenes. And sometimes He has to close a door so He can open a bigger door, He’ll move a person out of your life because they’re limiting your growth. What looks like a disappointment is really the hand of God ordering your steps.
Doesn’t make sense now, but down the road you’ll see how if that door hadn’t have closed, you wouldn’t have met that person, that introduced you to a friend, that had an opportunity that took you to a new level.
If you only knew what God was up to, you wouldn’t live upset. If you only knew how He’s going to connect the dots in your life, how all things are going to work for your good, you’d get your passion back.
Maybe you went through a loss, you’re discouraged, thinking that you’ve seen your best days. I know that’s difficult, but if you only knew that God has beauty for those ashes, if you only knew the new doors that are going to open, the new friendships that are coming. If you only knew your latter days will be better than your former days. It looks like the end, but really it’s a new beginning.
The best part of your life is still in front of you. Perhaps you’ve made mistakes, and you’re not where you thought you would be in life, you’ve accepted that you can’t reach your dreams, you won’t see God’s favor, “Look what you’ve done”. That didn’t stop your destiny. God knew every mistake you would make, every failure. He’s already lined up restoration, another chance.
When God told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh, Jonah went the other way, exactly opposite of what he knew he was supposed to do. God didn’t say “I’m done with you, Jonah. See if I’ll ever help you again”.
A couple days later Jonah was thrown overboard, in the middle of the sea in a huge storm. You would think God would say, “See, Jonah, I told you what to do, now you’re in trouble, you’re on your own”. God had a big fish already in place, a whale waiting to rescue Jonah, swallowed him up and carried him to the shore like a cruise liner.
Three days later spit him up on dry ground. You may be off course, thinking you’ve missed your destiny. If you only knew what great lengths God is going to go to to get you back on course, if you only knew there are whales waiting for you to rescue you, to protect you, to bring you back into your purpose.
You can’t outrun the mercy of God. You can’t get too far away, too far down. The Psalmist said if I’d go to the depths of the ocean, God you were there. If I go to the heights of the heaven you’re still there.
When the fish spit Jonah out, God told him to go to the city of Nineveh, He gave him another chance. This time Jonah went, he got back on course, he fulfilled His purpose.
You may have gone your own way, done things that were not the best. You think that God wouldn’t have anything to do with you. But like Jonah you can still become who you were created to be. Don’t sit around condemned, listening to the accuser, reminding you of everything you’ve done wrong.
If you only knew what God was going to do, how He’s not just going to restore you, not just bring you out and set you on the sidelines, He’s going to put you back into purpose. His calling is still on your life. The assignment He has for you didn’t get cancelled because you took a detour. He’s still going to honor you. You’re still going to see dreams come to pass. You’re still going to have a healthy family.
If you only knew what God was doing behind the scenes. If you only knew how He’s working out His plan for your life. If you only knew what He started He’s going to finish. If you only knew how He’s fighting battles for you, then you would trust Him, you would live from a place of peace, a place of faith.
You wouldn’t fight all the things you don’t like: the disappointments, the delays, the betrayals, they had to happen, they’re a part of His plan. You couldn’t step into the fullness of your destiny without them. It wasn’t comfortable, it didn’t make sense, but you wouldn’t see your greatness without those challenges.
John Chapter 4, Jesus was traveling with his disciples from Judea to Galilee. They stopped in Samaria. The disciples went into town to buy food. Jesus was waiting at a well. At noon time this Samaritan woman came to the well to get water. She had been married five times, and was now living with the sixth man. She’d gone through great rejection and heartache, been taken advantage of, she felt ashamed, unworthy, unattractive, devalued. On top of that people would talk about her, make disparaging remarks, so much so that she came to the well at noon, the hottest part of the day. Everyone else came in the morning, she didn’t want to see anyone, she didn’t want to feel their judgment, hear their comments.
As a little girl, I am sure she dreamed of getting married, having a happy family, but life didn’t turn out the way she had thought. She had made mistakes, other people had done her wrong, now she was hurting and lonely.
At the well Jesus asked her for a drink of water. This woman was surprised, because back then the Samaritans didn’t have anything to do with the Jews. On top of that, in that culture a man would never speak to a woman that he didn’t know.
But I love the fact that Jesus broke rules to reach people, he went against protocol, against what was accepted to lift the fallen, to restore the broken, to heal the hurting.
She said to Jesus, “You’re a Jew. I’m a Samaritan. Why are you asking me for a drink?” (John 4:9, NIV)
Jesus said to her, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am, you would ask me and I would give you living water.” He was saying “If you only knew what I’m about to do for you. If you only knew how I’m about to heal the hurts, restore your sense of value, thrust you into your purpose, then you would gladly give me a drink of water”.
She said “But sir, you have nothing to draw water with. You don’t have a bucket. Where are you going to get this living water? And besides, are you greater than our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well?”
Jesus said “If you drink this water, you will soon get thirsty, but when you drink the water I give you, you will never thirst again.”
She said, “Please, give me this water”.
Jesus began to tell her about her life, and how she had had five husbands. She was amazed at how He knew everything. She said “Sir, you must be a prophet. I know one day the Messiah, the Christ will come”.
Jesus said to her, “I am the Messiah”.
The first person Jesus ever told he was the Messiah wasn’t an influential leader, wasn’t a priest in the synagogue, wasn’t the mayor of the city — it was this lady. A lady that had made mistakes, a lady that had been mistreated, a lady that had suffered heartache, the least likely one.
You may have made mistakes, had people do you wrong, gone through bad breaks. God is saying to you: if you only knew what I’m about to do. If you only knew how I’m going to make miracles out of your mistakes. If you only knew how I’m going to restore you, heal you, and still make something great out of your life.
This lady came to the well, beaten down, unworthy, thinking that she would always be looked down on, defeated, but she left that day with a new passion, a new self image. She saw herself as valuable, redeemed, forgiven.
She ran back and told the whole town to come see this man Jesus. They all flooded out to see Him. She didn’t just get changed, but she changed her city. Now she was no longer looked down on, she had respect. She was no longer broken, unworthy, she felt valuable. She knew she was a child of the Most High God.
What’s interesting is, Samaria wasn’t the shortest route from Judea to Galilee, there was a quicker way. But Jesus said, “I must go through Samaria” (John 4:4). I can hear the disciples saying, “Jesus, that’s the long way. It’s hot, we’re tired, let’s take the shortcut”.
Jesus said, “No, there’s a woman there I need to see. Someone that’s made mistakes, someone that’s off course, someone that’s been rejected, that feels forgotten about. I have to tell her what I’m about to do”.
This woman came from a culture that worshiped idols. Their gods were made out of stone, no life, no response. Jesus showed up and said, “I’m going to give you living water”. They were used to dead gods, he said “I’m the Messiah, I’m the living God”.
You may have some big obstacles, you don’t see how you can overcome the sickness, how you can break the addiction, how you can accomplish your dreams, but if you only knew who our God is. He’s not a weak, lifeless, limited God, that used to live, a statue that we can reverence – our God is alive, He still parts Red Seas, He still brings dead things back to life, He still protects in the fiery furnace, He still makes rivers in the desert, He still brings walls down, He still defeats giants, He still breaks chains in the midnight hour. He’s still a waymaker, a promise keeper, a miracle worker.
Like this woman life may have thrown you a curve, you’ve settled where you are, thinking this is as good as it gets, just live with the addiction, just accept those bad breaks limited you, that person that walked away soured your life. God is saying: if you only knew what I’m about to do. I’m about to promote you in the pandemic. I’m about to honor you in front of your enemies. I’m about to heal you despite what the report says. I’m about to free you from what looks permanent.
I’m about to bring someone into your life better than you’ve imagined. If you only knew what God was up to you’d get your fire back. Those bad breaks didn’t stop your purpose, the mistakes you made didn’t cancel your destiny. You’re about to see God show out in your life.
My father went through a big disappointment. He was married at a young age, and unfortunately the marriage didn’t work out. Denominational leaders told him that he would never pastor again, that that failure had disqualified him. He eventually left his church and started selling insurance. He was very down on himself, living condemned, thinking that he had seen his best days.
But the same God that came to the well for that woman that was broken and lonely, came to my father. Daddy thought it was all downhill, that he would never pastor, never be in ministry, never have a family. But God said: if you only knew what I’m going to do, if you only knew you’re going to meet Dolores Pilgrim, a young nursing student and fall in love. If you only knew you’re going to have four average children, and one exceptional child. If you only knew… you’re going to pastor Lakewood and have influence around the world, you wouldn’t live defeated, down on yourself because of mistakes, no passion because of bad breaks.
See, we get stuck in the heartache, the disappointment, the guilt, the shame. “Should have done better, what was wrong with me”? God knows we’re human. Quit being so hard on yourself. Your mistakes didn’t stop what God has planned for your life, you’re not that powerful.
If you could stop your destiny, none of us would make it. Abraham made a mistake, had a baby out of wedlock, that didn’t stop the promised child. He’s called the father of our faith. If he made mistakes and didn’t miss his purpose, then you shouldn’t beat yourself up because you’ve made mistakes.
Now I’m not saying about being loose and doing whatever you want, but when your heart is to please God, when down deep you want to do the right thing, but you make mistakes, that is not going to stop your purpose. What will stop you is: if you start living condemned, down on yourself, no passion.
That’s why Jesus showed up and said to this woman, “If you only knew what I’m about to do. If you only knew the gift I have for you. If you only knew who you’re talking to”. He was saying, “I’m not just anyone, I’m the God who spoke worlds into existence. I’m the God who flung stars into space. I’m the God that crowned you with favor, that planned out your days for good”.
Jesus spoke faith into the lady. He could have condemned her, “You’re getting what you deserve, too bad, it’s just life”. Now He said, “Get ready I’m about to do something awesome in your life”.
You may have had your share of setbacks. You can come up with good reasons why you can’t be happy, why you can’t get married, why your business can’t succeed. In your own strength that may be true, but you’re not on your own. The God who breathed life into you is saying, “If you only knew the doors I’m going to open. If you only knew the favor I’m about to show you, if you only knew how I’m going to connect the dots, those things that you don’t understand, that were painful, that weren’t fair, I saw them, and they’re going to all work for your good. They’re leading you to an amazing future, to something better than you’ve imagined”.
As a teenager Joseph’s father gave him a coat of many colors. That coat represented favor. He was the youngest son at the time, and his father’s favorite. Joseph had a big dream to lead a nation. He knew God’s hands were on him, but his brothers didn’t like the favor on his life.
When Joseph showed up to check on them in another city, at their father’s request, they thought this was their big chance to get rid of Joseph. It’s significant that they took his robe of many colors off of him, and threw him into a pit. They killed an animal, put blood on it and took the robe back to their father, said they found it along the way.
Their father Jacob was heartbroken, he said “A wild animal has killed Joseph”.
What’s interesting is they took the robe away from him, but they couldn’t take the favor. They sold him as a slave, Joseph had favor working for his owner. He was falsely accused and put in prison, but Joseph had favor in prison.
13 years later the Pharaoh had a dream he didn’t understand, they called Joseph out of the prison, he interpreted the dream for the Pharaoh. He was so impressed he said, “Who better to lead our nation than Joseph”? The scripture says, “The Pharaoh put a royal robe on Joseph.” (Genesis 41:42) He took off his prison clothes, and he put a robe of influence, a robe of authority, a robe of honor.
But I can imagine, during those 13 years there were some lonely nights, where Joseph thought about that colorful robe that his father had given him, when his brothers tore it off, he was so disappointed, heartbroken, betrayed by his own family. He lost something that was important to him, didn’t seem fair, why did that happen?
But when this Pharaoh put the new robe on him, a robe that said, “I lead a nation”, a robe of great authority, a light turned on for Joseph. He realized, “It had to happen. I had to lose the robe of many colors in order to get this royal robe”. The robe of many colors was supposed to be temporary. God had something bigger, better, more rewarding.
And sometimes we’re disappointed over what we’ve lost, we know it was good, it represented favor, but it didn’t last. The door closed, the load didn’t go through, the person walked away, we don’t understand why it didn’t work out, why did I lose this coat of many colors, it meant so much to me?
But if you only knew what God was about to do. If you could see the coat of influence, the coat of honor, the coat of authority that’s coming, you would understand that it’s all a part of God’s plan. You have to trust Him when it doesn’t make sense. He’s not going to let you lose your coat of many colors unless there’s a royal robe that’s in your future. If you only knew where those disappointments are leading you.
Like with Joseph, you had to get pushed out, they had to be jealous, they had to betray you. It’s not that God has forgotten about you, it’s that he’s positioning you for greater influence, greater honor, greater favor.
Can He trust you when the robe of many colors is taken? Will you keep a good attitude, not get bitter, not think you’ve seen your best days? Joseph had plenty of opportunities to give up on his dream. In the pit feeling forgotten, working in a foreign country against his will, in prison for something that he didn’t do. How did he stay encouraged?
I believe, the same God that came to the well to meet the woman who was hurting, the same God that came to my father when he was heartbroken, came to Joseph, and whispered: “If you only knew what I’m about to do. If you only knew how I’m going to connect the dots. If you only knew how you’ll never miss this robe of many colors when I’m finished”.
That still small voice kept reminding him that God was in control, that his steps were being ordered, that what God started He would finish.
Are you discouraged over what didn’t work out, who did you wrong, “Why it’s taken so long”? If you only knew what God was up to, if you only knew the doors He’s about to open, if you only knew how He’s going to vindicate you, heal you, promote you, then you would trust Him while you don’t understand.
Stay in faith when it doesn’t make sense. Do the right thing when the wrong thing has happened. The fact that you lost the robe of many colors, you’ve been through disappointments, betrayals, injustice, that’s a sign that something awesome is on the way.
What God is about to do in your life will not just make up for every wrong, every injustice, but it will be so rewarding, you won’t think about what you’ve lost.
I heard about this young lady, she was going to meet her fiancé’s parents for the first time. They were known to be very picky and not easily impressed, and she was nervous about it all. She made sure her outfit was perfect, she looked the best that she possibly could.
On the way out the door she accidentally knocked a can of Coca-Cola over. It hit the floor and splashed up on her shoes and pant legs. She couldn’t believe it. Of all times she was trying to look good, and this happened. She didn’t have time to change, so she just wiped it off the best she could, and went on her way.
At her fiancé’s house she met the parents, and they visited for a while. They have a little dog that they’ve had for many years. The whole time that dog was at this young lady’s feet, it followed her through the house, would not leave her side. When she stopped, the dog stopped. Where she sat, the dog sat. For two hours, the dog was the girl’s best friend.
When she was about to leave, the mother said: we’ve had plenty of people over to our house, but this dog has never taken to anyone like you, there must be something very special about you. She didn’t realize the dog liked the smell of coke on her pants.
Sometimes what we think is a disappointment is really the hand of God. His ways are not our ways. Instead of being frustrated by what doesn’t work out, try a different approach and say, “God, I trust you. I may not understand it, it may be uncomfortable, but I know you wouldn’t have allowed it if it wasn’t going to work to my advantage”.
If you only knew what God is going to do, you’d stay in peace. If you only knew how He’s going to connect the dots, you wouldn’t fight everything that doesn’t go your way. If you only knew how He’s going to take your mistakes and make miracles out of them, how your poor choices are not going to stop your destiny, then you’d get your passion back. You’d stir your faith up and start dreaming again, start hoping again, start believing again.
There’s a lady in the scripture named Rahab. She was a prostitute. She didn’t like who she had become, she never thought she’d end up where she was, but life has a way of taking turns, we find ourselves disappointed, hurting, in dysfunction. She felt stuck, how could she ever get out?
She was living in a city that worshiped idols. I can imagine some nights she would look up at the stars, say “God, if you’re real, help me to change, God show me a better path”.
Thought said, “Are you crazy? God would never have anything to do with you, look at how you’re living”.
But when you take one step toward God, He’ll come running towards you. God doesn’t judge the way people judge. People will write you off, discount you, “You can’t do anything great, you’ve made too many mistakes. You come from the wrong family. You’re not talented enough”.
If you only knew how God sees you. He calls you a masterpiece, He put royal blood in your veins, He’s crowned you with favor. You have seeds of greatness. Nothing you’ve done has lessened your value. Nothing you’ve done has made Him love you any less. He’s still going to make something significant out of your life.
Joshua sent men in to spy out her city, the city of Jericho. Word got out that they were there, and Rahab hid the spies in her house, made sure they were saved. In the return the spies told her that whoever was in her house when the Israelites attacked the city, they would be spared.
Rahab and her relatives were the only ones that survived. That was the turning point. Rahab married a man from the tribe of Judah, they had a son named Boaz. Boaz had a son named Jesse. Jesse had a son named David. That means Rahab is in the family line of Jesus.
If you only knew how God can not only bring you out of a mess, but still do something awesome with your life. Rahab is now listed in Hebrews 11 as one of the heroes of faith. Imagine someone telling her while she was still in that profession, that “One day you’re going to make such an impact, you’re going to do something so significant, that thousands of years from now people are going to be talking about you”, she would have thought, “You have the wrong person. Do you see what I do for a living, the mistakes I’ve made, the culture I come out of”? None of that is going to stop what our God is about to do.
You may have plenty of reasons why you’re limited, you’ve seen your best days, you’ve made too many mistakes. God is saying to you, “If you only knew what I’m about to do. If you only knew the favor I’m about to show you. If you only knew the doors I’m about to open, the healing, the restoration”.
If you only knew the gifts God has for you, then you would ask for living water, that means you would ask big, you’d believe big, you’d get rid of the guilt, let go of the discouragement, what didn’t work out, mistakes you’ve made, and get ready for something that you haven’t seen.
This is a new day. God is doing a new thing. Chains that have held you back are being broken right now. Strongholds in your mind are coming down. Yes, you lost that coat of many colors, but don’t worry, you’re about to see a robe of greater influence, greater authority. God is about to connect the dots.
The bad breaks, the disappointments, the people that tried to stop you, it’s all working for your good. I believe and declare: you’re coming into promotion like you’ve never seen. Like Rahab, favored that you didn’t deserve. Like the woman at the well, you’re not only going to be restored, healed, and free, but you’re going to impact your family, your city, your world for the glory of God. And if you received it, can you say amen?
I’d like to give you an opportunity to make Jesus the Lord of your life. Would you pray with me? Just say: Lord Jesus, I repent of my sins. Come into my heart. I make you my Lord and Savior.