Joel Osteen - Believing Without A Sign
I want to talk to you today аbout: Believing Without a Sign. We all have goals and dreams and promises we're standing on, and when we see God's favor, doors opening, our health improving, the right people showing up, it's easy to believe, we know God's at work. But sometimes we're doing our best, praying, believing, but nothing's happening. The medical report is not getting better, doors are not opening, our finances are not improving, there's no sign that it's going to happen. It's easy to get discouraged and give up on what we're believing for. But the scripture says (Hebrew 11:1), "Faith is the evidence of things not seen". If you can see it, it doesn't take any faith.
If you have the evidence it's easy to stay encouraged, but to reach your destiny there will be these times when there is no evidence. Every circumstance says, "You'll never get well. Never meet the right person. Never accomplish that dream. You're no better off now than you were a year ago". We think, "God, if you just give me a sign, you just let me know that you're working. If I just see something improving", well this is when you have to dig down deep and say, "I don't have to have the evidence. I'm not moved by what I see, I'm moved by what I know. And God, I know you are faithful to what you promised". Just because you don't see a sign doesn't mean God is not working. Don't believe those lies that nothing is happening: in the unseen realm God is arranging things in your favor, lining up the healing, the right people, the promotion.
And the fact that you can't see anything happening, that's God showing you that he trusts you. You don't have to see everything to keep moving forward, you've matured to the point where you walk by faith and not by sight. Where God is taking you, the amazing future he has planned, is going to require you to believe without a sign, to trust him when there's no evidence. If you have to see everything to stay encouraged, see it to keep believing, it will limit how high you will go. You have to pass this test of staying in faith when nothing is improving, thanking God when all the circumstances say "It's never going to change". And you may be there now, you've been praying and believing, but it doesn't seem like it's doing any good, you don't see any evidence, kind of feels like God's on vacation, he doesn't even hear your prayers.
The silence doesn't mean God has forgotten about you. He sees your faithfulness, he sees you doing the right thing when it's hard. When you could have given up you went the extra mile and kept believing, you felt like complaining, but you kept praising. When every thought said it was never going to happen, you kept thanking God that he was working. Let me encourage you: your time is coming. What God promised is on the way. Don't get talked out of it. Don't let people, delays, doubts, convince you to give up. Your breakthrough is already on the schedule. Your miracle has already been set in motion. Seems like nothing is happening, but suddenly it's going to change, suddenly the dream come to pass, suddenly the right person shows up.
Jesus told Thomas (John 20:19), "Because you have seen me, you have believed. But blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe". You haven't seen it, but you keep believing, God says there's a blessing coming. Because you believe without the evidence, believe without the sign, favor is coming, healing is coming, victory is coming. And don't be a Thomas, "God show me a sign, then I'll believe. Let my circumstances improve, then I'll stay in faith. Open this door, then I'll know you're working". God is looking for people who believe without a sign, who are not moved by what they don't see, who don't need the evidence to prove to them that God is working.
2 Kings chapter 20, king Hezekiah became very sick. He was close to death when the prophet Isaiah showed up at the palace. I'm sure he was hoping for some good news, maybe Isaiah will come and prophesy that things are about to turn around, that I'm about to get well. But it wasn't what he was thinking. Isaiah said, "King Hezekiah, I have a word from the Lord for you. God says 'set your house in order for you will surely die'." he didn't say "Maybe you'll pass, there's a chance you're not going to make it, it's not looking too good, king". There was no doubt, "This is the end, you will not recover from this illness". Hezekiah could have been depressed, defeated, given up on life. But he began to pray. He reminded God of all the good he had done, how he had torn down the pagan shrines and removed all the idols. He poured his heart out and asked God in his mercy to spare his life. Before Isaiah left the palace grounds, God changed his mind, told his Isaiah to go back and give him this new report. He said, "Tell Hezekiah this: Hezekiah, the Lord says he has heard your prayers, and he's going to heal you. In three days you will get out of this bed, and he will add 15 more years to your life".
Now you can imagine how excited and how overwhelmed Hezekiah was. He just received this amazing promise that this death sentence had been reversed. But Hezekiah was kind of like us. After the excitement wore off, he started thinking "How do I know I'm going to get well? I don't look any different, I don't feel any better, nothing has changed". Doubt started to come, "Is it really going to happen? Are you sure that's what God said"? Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "What sign will the Lord give me to prove that I'm going to get well"? He was saying, "Isaiah, I appreciate what you've told me, that's encouraging, but I need some evidence. I need to see something so I'll believe. I need God to prove that he's going to do it". Isaiah said, "All right, God will give you a sign. Do you want the shadow on the sundial to go 10 degrees forward or 10 degrees backwards"? Hezekiah said "Backwards". They watched as the shadow defied the odds and went backwards.
And God is merciful. Sometimes he'll give you a sign, but here's my point: if you live by this approach, "God, prove that you're going to do what you said. God, I need some evidence. If I don't see something, I'm not going to believe". If you're always dependent on a sign, you won't reach the fullness of your destiny. Maybe like Hezekiah you're praying for a sign, but you're not seeing anything, the sundial is not going backwards. The right attitude is, "God, I don't have to have a sign. You don't have to prove to me that you're going to do it, you've already proved to me who you are. You've already made ways where I didn't see a way. You've already opened doors that I could never open. You've already defeated giants that were much bigger. You've already broken chains that I could never break. God, I trust you with no evidence. I'm not a Thomas, I don't have to see it to believe it. I'm not a Hezekiah, you don't have to prove to me that you're faithful. You've already shown yourself faithful".
And yes, it's great when God gives you a sign, but don't rely on a sign, don't become dependent on seeing then you'll believe. That doesn't take much faith. Your faith kicks in when there's no evidence. Instead of asking God to prove to you what he's going to do, why don't you turn it around and prove to God who you are, prove to him that you're not going to be moved by what you see, prove that you're not going to give up because things aren't changing, prove that you're going to stand in faith when every circumstance says "It's never going to happen".
What's interesting is right before Hezekiah got sick he had just seen the greatest victory of his life. The Assyrian army was coming against him and the people of Judah, they were much bigger, had more resources. The night before the Assyrians were going to attack, the angel of the Lord went into their camp and killed a hundred and eighty five thousand of their soldiers. The others took off running, the people of Judah, Hezekiah were spared. You would think Hezekiah would need a sign? He just saw a supernatural victory, he just saw God show out. But how many times do we forget what God has done? Like Hezekiah, God has shown up and turned things around for us, he's healed us, protected us, freed us, promoted us. If you need a sign, look back at the goodness of God in your life. Look back at how you brought you through the pandemic, how he gave you a strength when you didn't think you could go on, how he promoted you when you weren't next in line, look back at how he's turned your child around, how he brought someone great into your life to love, and how that one good break cause your business to take off. When you need evidence, look back at the faithfulness of God.
This is what Elijah did. There was a great famine in the land, and for three and a half years it hadn't rained: no water, no crops. People were barely surviving. When nothing looked any different, in the middle of this drought Elijah showed up and said (1 Kings 18:41), "I hear the sound of the abundance of rain". He was so bold, he went and told king Ahab "This drought is coming to an end. Rain is on the way". When he said that there wasn't a cloud in the sky, no sign of rain. God will put things in your spirit that contradict what you see. He heard an abundance of rain, he saw barren ground, crops dried up, drought, famine. The key is don't let what you see override what you've heard. If you're always looking for a sign, you're going to get discouraged. "I heard rain, but I see drought. I heard healing, but I see sickness. I heard abundance, but I see lack. I heard freedom, Joel, but all I see is addictions, depression, dysfunction. When I see something different then I'll believe. When I have some evidence then I'll get my hopes up".
No, don't be a Hezekiah, be an Elijah. You don't have to have a sign, God doesn't have to prove to you that he's going to do what he's promised, you've seen his faithfulness, you have a history with God. He's made things happen all through your life that you could have never made happen. Now do your part and believe without a sign. Stay in faith where there's no evidence. Don't let what you see talk you out of what you've heard. It's very powerful when you can say, "I don't see any sign of what I'm believing for, but that's okay, I don't need a sign, I know God's on the throne. I know he's in control. I know what he started he will finish".
Elijah went to the top of mount Carmel and he began to pray. He bowed down and began to thank God that rain was coming, that what he heard in his spirit was on the way. He asked his assistant to go look on the other side of the mountain, see if there was any sign of rain. He wasn't dependent on a sign, he was looking for God's goodness, he was expecting rain. That's different than "I'm not going to believe unless I have a sign". His attitude was, "I know God's at work, it could happen any moment. I know rain is coming". He had this confidence, this unshakable faith. The assistant came back said, "Sorry, Elijah, there are no clouds. The skies are as clear as can be. I checked the latest radar, super doppler, nothing inside". Elijah didn't get depressed, "God, I must have heard you wrong". He kept thanking God that rain was coming. He didn't let the lack of evidence convince him that it wasn't going to happen, he kept looking for the rain, he kept talking like it was going to happen.
I can hear king Ahab kind of laughing, "Elijah, where's that rain you were talking about? Thought you've said there's going to be an abundance, I haven't felt one little drop". Elijah said, "Ahab, I'm not worried, I don't need a sign to believe. I'm not dependent on the evidence. I know what God has spoken to me". Elijah sent the assistant out and asked him to look and see if he saw any sign of rain again. He came back again, and again, and again with the same report, "Not a cloud in the sky. Perfectly clear". Six times no sign, six times nothing had changed, six times this negative report, "It's not going to happen, Elijah, just accept it. No rain is coming".
You may be where Elijah was. You know what God has promised you, the health, the freedom, the abundance, a spouse, a child, but you've been looking, standing in faith, thanking God, but there's no evidence, nothing is improving, no good breaks, you still can't conceive. This is when you have to dig down deep, "God, I'm not moved by what I don't see. I know you're a faithful God. I'm going to keep looking, keep expecting, keep praising, keep declaring, keep thanking you that it's on the way". Don't let the clear sky fool you. God can change things suddenly. He controls the universe. One touch of his favor and you'll see the abundance of rain. You're not seeing any sign of it? That's a test. What are you made of? You're going to give up, get discouraged, settle for mediocrity, or are you going to do like Elijah and keep believing despite what you're seeing?
On the seventh time the assistant came back, said "This time I saw a small cloud in the sky about the size of a man's hand". Wasn't long after that that the heavens opened up, there was a huge downpour. The three and a half year drought suddenly came to an end. Like Elijah many of you have been faithful, you believed when every circumstance says it wasn't going to happen, you didn't listen to the naysayers, you didn't get talked out of it, you've been looking for God's goodness. I believe you're about to come in to your seventh time, you're about to see the open windows of heaven, something better than you've imagined, more rewarding, more fulfilling. The scripture says there was a remarkable rainstorm. God is going to do something remarkable in your life, out of the ordinary, that will exceed your expectations.
Now, it's significant that Elijah's assistant, someone close to him kept bringing him this news that is not going to happen, there are no clouds. And he didn't mean to be negative, he was just reporting the facts. But sometimes the people closest to you will try to talk you out of what God put in your heart. Now, they may mean well, but they didn't hear what God spoke to you. They keep telling you what they saw, you can't let that drown out what you've heard. Don't let their negative comments, their doubt, "You still think you're gonna get well? It's been a long battle. You really believe your child is going to get back on course? He's doing worse than ever. You think you're going to have a bountiful year? I don't see it, inflation, gas prices, the pandemic". They're looking at it in the natural, but we serve a supernatural God.
But there will be these seasons like Elijah that you're looking, expecting, believing, but again and again there's no sign, no improvement. What if on the fourth time Elijah would have said to the assistant, "I guess you're right, it's not going to rain isn't it"? Or on the fifth time he got discouraged, "God, I know what I heard you say, but surely it would have happened by now, at least I'd see some clouds, some wind, a sign of things changing". Maybe that's where you are: on your fourth time, no evidence. Your fifth time, still no sign. Your sixth time, sky's still blue. Don't give up now, those are tests. Yes, it'd be much easier if like Hezekiah we always got a sign, but we never grow, we wouldn't reach our potential. Where God is taking you is going to take unshakable faith, not moved by what you see, not discouraged because of a lack of evidence.
I know today I'm not looking at Thomas's, "Lord show me and I'll believe". I'm not looking at Hezekiah's, "God, give me a sign and I'll trust you". I'm looking at Elijah's, "God we believe without a sign. We keep looking for rain, even though the skies are clear, we don't let people, time, delays, what's not happening talk us out of what we've heard in our spirit". I'm looking at people that are headed for an abundance of rain, an abundance of joy, an abundance of favor, an abundance of resources, for something remarkable, uncommon, that will take your family to a new level.
Right after we acquired this place the former Compaq Center, a company filed a lawsuit to try to keep us from moving in. They were a huge real estate company that owned all the property around this building. We've just come off of this great victory, only to find out that it was now tied up in the courts, and we couldn't move forward. Our attorneys told us that it could take up to 10 years to settle. They had met with the other side, but they were in no hurry to do something. In fact the more they delayed, the more at a disadvantage we were. Our main attorney called and said, "Joel, they're playing hardball. They don't want to talk, they don't want to negotiate, they're stubborn". A month went by, nothing happened. Two months, nothing. Three months, four months, five months, like Elijah not a cloud in the sky, no evidence it is ever going to work out.
I had to do what I'm asking you to do: I just kept thanking God, "Father, I'm not moved by what I don't see. I don't need a sign, I'm not looking for evidence. God, I know when it's your time all the forces of darkness cannot stop what you have ordained for us". Doubt would try to come, negative thoughts, people tried to talk us out of it. Our main attorney told me, "Joel, what if I get them to give you enough funds to build a facility like this somewhere else"? I told him, "We don't want somewhere else. This building is a landmark in Houston. Two million Houstonians had come to this building every year for 30 years". Don't let a lack of evidence cause you to water down your dreams. Don't settle for mediocrity. What God has for you is going to take resilience, determination, perseverance.
You have to have a made-up mind. You can't be talked out of it, you can't be moved by what you see, because what you see may contradict what God put in your heart. You may not see anything improving. I didn't see the other side letting up, I didn't see any sign of progress. Like Elijah we heard "No" three times, four times, five times, no evidence, no budging, no movement. But if you'll stay in faith, you're going to come into your seventh time where things suddenly happen, suddenly doors open, suddenly the wrong people are moved out of the way, suddenly your health begins to turn around.
One day unexpectedly, almost two years later, our attorneys said that the other side had called and said they wanted to meet. He said, "Joel, don't get your hopes up, this is probably just a ploy to distract us". He didn't realize my hopes had already been up. For two years I'd been thanking God looking for his goodness, expecting his favor. We met with the CEO of the company. First thing he said was, "Joel, I watch you on television each week and my son-in-law is a youth pastor".
God knows how to bring the right people at the right time. 24 hours later they had agreed to let us have the building, and to lease us 9 000 covered parking spaces, so we didn't have to build a garage. You may not see any sign of what you're believing for, you could get discouraged, let the lack of evidence talk you out of it. No, stay in faith. God is working behind the scenes. Who knows you may be on your fourth time, your fifth time? This is not the time to give up. You are closer than you think. Your seventh time is coming. It's going to happen suddenly, it's going to be supernatural, something that you couldn't make happen.
The truth is that CEO could have shown up two years earlier. He could have come three months in. I wouldn't have had to pray, and believe, and trust, but these times we have to wait, believe, not be moved but what we don't see, that's preparing us for the new levels God has in store. Don't get discouraged because it's not happening on your timetable, everything is serving God's plan. When you're waiting, staying in faith, believing when there's no sign, you're growing, you're showing God what you're made of. Instead of God proving to you who he is, you're proving to him who you are. I mean anybody can get discouraged, anybody can be a Thomas, "I'm not going to believe unless I see it", but God is looking for Elijah's, people that aren't moved by the lack of evidence, people that don't water down their dreams, people that believe without a sign.
17 years old, God put a dream in my father's heart that one day he would pastor a church with thousands of people. He was raised very poor, got off the farm, in 1959 he and my mother started Lakewood on mother's day with 90 people. He eventually named the church "Lakewood international outreach center". The fact is it was a small neighborhood church, but he called it an "International outreach", that dream was still alive. But for 13 years Lakewood didn't really grow, it had less than 200 people. My father knew what God had spoken to him, a church with thousands, but there was no evidence.
He could have gotten discouraged, "God, show me a sign. Let me know that it's going to happen". But year after year my mother and father just kept being their best, he preached to those 90 people, thanking God that what he heard in his spirit was on the way. Be so much easier if we saw a good break, had a little growth, the right person showed up, but sometimes God will withhold the evidence. He's seeing what we're going to do? Are we going to be a Thomas, "God I'll believe, I'll give you my best if you show me a sign". No, God is giving you an opportunity to grow, to trust him in a greater way, to prove to him that you'll walk by faith and not by sight, so he can entrust you with more.
1972, 13 years later it was like God opened up a faucet, people started coming from Lakewood from all over the city. Lakewood grew from a couple hundred to a church over time of many thousands. He saw what God put in his spirit. But God could have done that the first year, the second year, but we have to pass these tests. We all go through silent seasons, where we're praying, believing, but nothing is changing. You don't see any sign that what God promised you is going to happen. You'll be tempted to walk away from a dream, to give up on a child, a spouse, a breakthrough. "God, if you'll just do what you did for Hezekiah, prove that you'll do it, then I'll believe again".
But most of the time it's going to be like Elijah, no sign, people saying it's not going to happen, your thoughts telling you "It's never going to rain". Do like he did: don't be moved by what you see. The skies may be clear right now, but your seventh time is coming. God sees your faithfulness, he sees you believing when there's no evidence. You are closer than you think. The clouds are starting to form right now. I believe and declare: your abundance of rain is on the way. What you're believing for is going to happen suddenly, unexpectedly. Healing, favor, breakthroughs, divine connections, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen? Amen.