(Photo: screen grab)
Lakewood Church pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen, and their two teen children, visited the Hillsong Conference in Sydney on Wednesday, and the Texas megachurch preacher delivered the same message of hope, perseverance, and positivity that has brought him worldwide fame.
The Osteens delivered messages of encouragement at length between pauses of worship conducted by Lakewood Church worship leader and Grammy Award-winning artist Israel Houghton and the New Breed and the Osteen children, Jonathan and Alexandra.
Similar to the messages preached at his Houston congregation and found in his best-selling books, Pastor Osteen spoke about getting over setbacks in life, and faithfully giving God their best and expecting blessings in return.
"When you honor God, He will always honor you," said Osteen, listing off things like time, energy and money as assets that can be used to honor God.
Exhorting listeners to realize that God is not "keeping a record of their wrongs" or mad at them, the megachurch preacher suggested, "God is madly in love with you."
"When God looked way down to 2013, He said 'who can I look to … to fulfill my purpose,'" said Osteen, turning to the subject of individual callings. He noted how the Bible tells of God calling Abraham, Moses and others for specific purposes. "…God looked in your eyes, my eyes... and God said I'm choosing you to live in that generation."
"You have an assignment. Somebody needs your gifts...," he added. "No matter your age, God has a plan and a destiny for you..."
Sharing three points he believes are pivotal in living a victorious life, Osteen suggested that primary among them is intentionally thinking positive thoughts and dispelling negative ones.
"Until you change your internal dialogue, you'll never reach your highest potential," he said, adding, "You have enough people against you...be for yourself."
Osteen, 50, insisted that speaking positive messages about oneself is not the same as bragging. "You're not better than anybody else," he clarified, "but you're not less than anybody else. You're a child of the Most High God."
Second on Osteen's list of strategies for victorious living was starting everyday as if it were a new beginning.
"When you get up in the morning, forgive the people that hurt you the day before," he suggested.
"Victoria called it 'shaking it off,'" he added, referring to his wife's remarks on letting go of hurts and avoiding developing grudges that can cause bitterness.
"You'll never enjoy the day if you bring negative baggage into the day," the Your Best Life Now author added.
Finally, he insisted that victorious living meant choosing to ignore some things and picking battles wisely.
"You only have so much emotional energy for every day," Osteen said. "A lot of times, we're using our emotional energy thinking about what they said about us."
He added, "The truth is, somebody is always talking about you, so you have to let it go … if it's not a part of your God-given destiny."
On the same point, Osteen stressed the importance of not only forgiving others, but forgiving oneself for mistakes and shortcomings. "You can't change the past. You might be able to undo it but you can't change it," he insisted. But that does not mean it is too late to live up to God's calling — "You can still become everything God has created you to be."
"God is called the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," he added.
"I can understand how He's called the God of Abraham … and the God of Isaac ... but when He says He's the God of Jacob" that doesn't make a lot of sense, the pastor admitted, noting that Jacob's name actually connotes a "deceiver" or "supplanter" and that the Bible shows Jacob made many bad choices.
"Later in life, Jacob got things straightened out," Osteen continued. "God even changed his name from Jacob, which means deceiver, to Israel, which means prince of God..."
God, referred to in the Old and New Testaments as "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," is never identified in those specific Biblical passages as "the God of Israel (the man)," said Osteen. He insisted that there must have been a reason for that particular phrasing.
Adding that "God uses ordinary people that have flaws and weaknesses to do extraordinary things," Osteen reminded the Hillsong Conference attendees that the Bible shows that God used imperfect people like Jacob, David, Jonah, Miriam, Thomas, Sarah and even Lazarus, "who was dead" (the Gospel of John says Jesus resurrected him), to do great things.
"What's your excuse? Why can't you do something great? Why can't you be all God created you to be?" he questioned.
Sharing his own personal story, Osteen said of taking over leadership of Lakewood Church in 1999 after his father's death, "This opportunity came this way, and here I am. You don't know what God has in your future, but you keep honoring God ... and believing God's going to do great things in your life..."
Referencing Jeremiah 29:11-13, Osteen added, "Let's don't be average, let's be the exceptional people God made us to be."
Osteen concluded his exhortation Wednesday morning by reminding hearers to trust God even in times of uncertainty, which he referred to as the storms of life.
"Instead of using our faith to try and pray away our difficulties, instead believe that when the winds stop blowing, we'll be exactly where we're supposed to be," he said.
"There comes a point where you've done everything you can," Osteen added. "You gotta stop fighting it and trying to make it work out and just relinquish control."
"Sometimes God will deliver you from the fire and other times God will make you fireproof," he continued, referencing the narrative of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3. "What is now your test will soon become your testimony."
The Lakewood Church senior pastor, who joined Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter's House, Craig Groeschel of Lifechurch.tv and Judah Smith of The City Church at the 2013 Hillsong Conference, eventually went on to preach a traditional sermon on the theme of "being a magnet for blessings." Osteen closed out his appearance at the conference with an "altar call" and encouraged those new to faith in Jesus Christ to find a "good, Bible-believing church" to attend.
Under Osteen's leadership, Lakewood Church has become the largest congregation in the U.S., attracting approximately 45,000 attendees every week, and millions of viewers around the world through the ministry's television broadcasts.