Joel Osteen - Your Future is Set
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I want to talk to you today about Your Future Is Set. It's easy to worry about tomorrow, and how is everything going to work out, "I'm concerned about my children. I have this problem at work". The uncertainty can bring anxiety, where we live stressed and uptight. We look at things on the short term, but God's been working on you for generations. He didn't just start when you got here. Long before you were born he has lined up what you need, arranging things to fall into place so you can fulfill your purpose.
God told Abraham, "Your children will be in Egypt for 400 years, then I will bring them out with great abundance". God had a 400-year strategy. We're planning about tomorrow, believing for this week, hopping for next month - God is way ahead of you. He was thinking of you hundreds of years ago. Before your father and mother even knew each other, God was working on your behalf, generations back, bringing everything into alignment, the right people, good breaks, solutions to problems, mercy for mistakes. It's already planned out.
When the Israelites came out of slavery, loaded down with treasure, just like God promised, it looked like that just suddenly happened, God just decided to bless them. The truth is: that blessing had been lined up for 400 years. God had plan to let Pharaoh capture them. He'd already planned they would go through things that weren't fair, have to endure that suffering. But the plan didn't stop there. There was a plan to bring them out, a plan to make the enemy pay, a plan to turn around the injustice, a plan to thrust them into their purpose.
Yes, we all go through disappointments and things we don't understand, we make mistakes and bring trouble on ourselves, and we don't see how we accomplish our dreams now. We feel like we're in captivity, we've had these bad breaks. That's not the end of the story. Like with the Israelites, generations back God was working on your behalf. That bad break can't stop you, how you were raised, even the mistake you made, that didn't catch God off guard. He knew about it. He's already taken it into account. That's why we can stay in peace. That's why we can sleep well at night. You're not doing life on your own. You're a part of much bigger plan, that God has purposed things for you that he started generations ago.
Now, thoughts will whisper, "It's nothing special about you. You're not important. You're just one of the 7 billion people on the earth". No, God chose you to be here. He has an assignment for your life. You need to feel this sense of destiny, this sense of purpose. Your life matters. You are strategic. There's something significant for you to accomplish. And at times it'll feel like you're stuck, obstacles too big, the sickness too great, the pressure too much. You have to remind yourself that the Creator of the universe is not only with you right now, but he's been orchestrating things in your favor for generations. God wouldn't have given you breath to breathe if he didn't have an amazing future for you.
Sometimes you have to go through the pain to get to the purpose, through the weeping to get to the joy, through the struggle to get to the abundance. If you keep being faithful, and you're going to see what God's been working on for generations, you're going to come into houses that you didn't build, vineyards that you didn't plant, promotion you didn't deserve, mercy when you should have received judgement.
Think about Zacchaeus. He was a tax collector, and they were known for being dishonest, and cheating people. And he was the chief tax collector, the worst one. Everyone looked down on him ,saw him as a fraud. Seems like God wouldn't have anything to do with him, "Zacchaeus, you're making poor choices. If you would live better, quit cheating everyone, have a little integrity, then I'd help you". But God doesn't judge the way we judge. We look at people how they are, but God sees what they can become. We see the dirt, God sees the treasure. We see the mess, God sees the miracle.
Jesus was passing through the town, and when Zacchaeus heard about it something came alive on the inside, this desire to see Jesus. Even though Zacchaeus knew he was doing wrong, even though he knew he was off course, God in his great mercy begin to draw Zacchaeus. He felt this longing, "I've got to see this man". God never writes anyone off. No matter how many mistakes you've made, how many failures, how many times we've blown it, God is full of mercy, he still has a purpose for your life. What I love about God is: he never consults your past to determine your future. What you've done in the past does not stop what God has planed for you. Now, sometimes religion will try to beat you down, make you feel like you're not worthy. The enemy is called the accuser, he'll try to convince you that nothing good is in your future. Don't believe those lies, God's calling is still on your life. You can still become who you were created to be.
When Zacchaeus arrived, it was so crowded, people had lined the street to see Jesus. And Zacchaeus was short, well hundreds of people in front of him, he could have gone back home, thought, "Too bad, didn't work out". But he looked over and saw this sycamore tree. He had an idea, "If I get up in that tree, I'll be able to see Jesus". He went and climbed the tree, grabbed this branch, another branch, climbed higher and higher, now he had a perfect view, he could see everything so clearly. In a few moments Jesus came walking by. This is what everyone was waiting for. They're all trying to get Jesus attention: waving, shouting. Zacchaeus was taking it all in.
About that time Jesus stopped, he turned and looked up in the tree. I'm sure Zacchaeus nearly passed out, now all the eyes were on him. You could hear a pin drop. Zacchaeus thought, "Oh, man, great, he's going to let me have it. He knows I'm a sinner. He knows I cheat people". He was feeling so guilty. But Jesus said, "Zacchaeus, come down out of that tree. I want to go to your house and have dinner". First thing Zacchaeus thought was, "How does he know my name? I've never met him, I don't run in his circles, I'm not a religious person". Can I tell you? God knows your name. You may have never spoken to him, but he'll speak to you. He doesn't hold your faults against you he. Doesn't say, "Man, you hadn't perform well enough. I'm not going to have anything to do with you". No, he's calling your name.
What's significant is: the name Zacchaeus means "Pure one. Jesus could have said, "Hey, mister up there in the tree. Hey sir". But on purpose he called his name, "Hey, Zacchaeus". He was saying, "Hey, pure one". He was calling him not who he was, but who he could become. The religious leaders, they were offended. They said, "Why would Jesus go eat with such scum? Notice the people called him scum, but Jesus called him pure one. Don't go by what people call you, go by what God calls you. Zacchaeus came down on a tree, went to dinner, that was the turning point in his life. He repented. Repent means to change your ways, quit being dishonest. He quit cheating people, and he started making decisions that honored God. But none of this would have happened if Zacchaeus hadn't climbed that tree.
There are sycamore trees that have lived over 2000 years. Here's how strategic God is. Way before Zacchaeus was born, God knew, "I have to plant a tree here, because in a few hundred years a man's going to come along, named Zacchaeus, that's off course, that needs my mercy. This tree is going to be necessary to bring him into his purpose". That tree didn't happen overnight. Generations back God was thinking about Zacchaeus. There are blessings you're going to come into, mercy, favor, opportunity that God has been working on for you for generations. You don't have to worry about the right doors opening, the right people showing up, how is it going to work out. God has already planted your trees. He's already lined up what you need for your purpose.
There maybe things that look impossible, how you can accomplish that dream, or how your child will get back on course, how you overcome that heartache. God's already been working on it. You're going to come into a tree, something that you couldn't make happen. It's the hand of God moving you into your purpose. When you understand this, it takes the pressure off. You can live in peace, knowing that as long as you keep God first place, your future is set, God has it all lined up.
Back in the 1800s, a 17-year-old girl was sent from Norway to America by her family. They were very poor, and could only afford to send one person. They send her with high hopes that she would somehow get a good education, and be able to support the family, so they could all come over. After the long boat ride, she got off the bus downtown Chicago. You can imagine how she felt, not able to speak the language, "Why did I have to leave my family? Now I'm here all alone". She had no money, and no place to stay. She walked around the block and saw this home with a porch light on, knocked on the door and asked if she could stay for a night or two. The family graciously took her in. The next day she saw this charity that took care of babies with no mothers. She was so draw to it, she went in and they hired her. She worked there for years, and eventually got married, had a daughter. That daughter would come to the charity and take care of the babies as well.
Fast forward 150 years, friend of mine pastors a successful church downtown Chicago, and they've been seeing growth and favor, and they needed a larger auditorium. He didn't want to leave downtown, but finding property there seemed impossible. Kept looking and looking, he finally found a one-acre tract of land right next to the united center, the basketball arena. He inquired about it, things started falling into place. The land is incredibly valuable, but he had favor with the mayor, city officials. Against all odds they sold him the property to build a sanctuary. First new church to be built in downtown Chicago in over 50 years.
He was so excited. Before he announced it to the church, he wanted to take his grandmother by. When they pulled up to the property, she started weeping and weeping. She said, "This is the same property where your great-great-grandmother worked in the baby's home. This is where I came as her granddaughter to take care of the children". That seventeen-year-old girl from Norway, she wondered why she had to come, why she had to leave her family, it didn't make sense. But she was a tree. She was fulfilling a divine purpose. Now, my friends stepped in the blessings that started four generations back. 150 years earlier God was orchestrating things that would propel him into his purpose.
You don't know what God is up to, you don't know what you're about to step into, the doors that will open, the opportunity that will come, the favor that will find you. God's been working for generations to move you into your purpose. You haven't seen, heard or imagined what he has in store. See, we think situationally, "I have this problem. This obstacle looks too big. How could I ever get that property"? But God thinks generationally. He says, "Don't worry, before you got here I started lining up good breaks that you could never make happen. Before you were born, I was arranging things in your favor". You don't have to worry about your future, your future is set. Everything you need is already in motion, it's already strategically orchestrated. The good news: it's going to be better than you thought, more rewarding, more fulfilling than you can imagine.
What's interesting is when they tore down the children's home to build the united center, they left that one acre undeveloped. That doesn't make sense. Why wouldn't they use that land? They could have made the building larger, built a pavilion, build a food court. They could have sold it to retail, restaurants, clubs. That land is so valuable, but what God has for you is not going to go to anyone else. What has your name on it is going to come to you. That means: what hasn't worked out, what you didn't get, the contract that didn't go through, that wasn't supposed to be yours. If it didn't happen, God has something better. He hasn't been working for generations to let you miss what's supposed to be yours.
He told Abraham, "After 400 years I'm going to bring your descendants out with great abundance". Well, his descendant slaves, they had no money, no resources, nothing looked like they would leave with abundance. But on their way out God calls them to have favor with their oppressors. They gave the Israelites their gold, their Jewelry, their clothing. Didn't make sense. You're giving us your valuables? We're the slaves.
God has some things in your future that are not going to make sense, things that are going to boggle your mind. He knows how to give you property that seems impossible, he knows how to that child around, how to restore your health, how to cause people to favor you and open doors that you couldn't open. What I want us to see is he's been working for generations, getting us ready for this moment. You're going to come into some generational blessings, generational favor, generational increase. It's the hand of God doing things you never saw coming. When you know your future is set, it's easy to stay in faith. When you know that God works generationally, and not just situationally, then you won't get upset when things happen that you don't understand, disappointments, closed doors.
Like that young woman from Norway, you're a part of the bigger plan. God is using you to not only fulfill your purpose, but to bring about his purpose in others. That's why you shouldn't fight everything you don't like, live upset over the betrayal, bitter over the door that closed, frustrated because the dream hasn't come to pass. God knows what he's doing. We're not going to understand it all right now. We can only see a small part of his plan. God's looking back 400 years. He's looking ahead 400 years. You can be confident that his plans for you are for good. They may not look good at the time, but if you'll stay in faith, you'll see what God is up to. You'll come into these moments of favor, that catapult you ahead.
This what happened with Ruth in the scripture. Life was good, she was going along fine, then her husband suddenly passed. She never dreamed she would become a widow at a young age. You can imagine how heartbroken she was. Sometimes life doesn't seem fair. If you'll keep moving forward, God says he has beauty for those ashes. In these difficult times God is up to something, he's doing things that we can't see right now. Ruth's mother in law Naomi was a widow as well, and now both of her sons had died. She decided to move back to her hometown of Bethlehem. She told Ruth and the other daughter-in-law Orpah to go back to their hometowns. Orpah left, but Ruth said, "No, Naomi, I'm going with you. Your God will be my God. Your home will be my home". Ruth was from Moab, she wasn't the same nationality as Naomi, or the same faith, but she wouldn't Naomi.
The people that are supposed to stay with you, you won't be able to get rid of. If they walked away, they weren't supposed to stay. Quit trying to hold on to people that don't want to be there. If you needed them to fulfill your destiny, they couldn't have walked away. You can imagine Ruth and Naomi traveling back to Bethlehem, so discouraged. Naomi got bitter, she said, "I went out full with my husband and two sons, now I'm coming home empty". She was saying, "This is not how I thought things would turn out. This is not what I had planned for my life". But all this time God was up to something. She couldn't see it right then, but God was positioning her in route.
He had to get them back to Bethlehem, that's where Ruth would meet a man named Boaz. He owned all the fields, very influential, very wealthy. This caused Naomi to come back to life. Instead of sitting around bitter, she started giving Ruth relationship advice, telling her to get this man, "Put on this perfume. Wear this dress. When you see him, talk to him this way", telling her how to flirt. Why was she so passionate about helping Ruth win this man over? She wasn't just doing a girl thing, this was a part of God's divine plan. Ruth ended up marrying Boaz. They had a son named Obed. Obed had a son named Jesse. Jesse had a son named David. Ruth became the great-great-grandmother of David. Without Ruth we wouldn't have David. Without David we wouldn't have Jesus. He came to the lineage of David.
The loss, the disappointment, the setback, it was all a set up. Ruth had to get to Bethlehem, she had to meet Boaz, she had to give birth to Obed. God was working generationally. Sometimes we can't see it, doesn't seem fair, "Why did I go through this loss? Why did this door closed? Why did this person walk away"? We get discouraged when we only look at things situationally, when we isolate it. By itself it's not fair, but when we understand that God works generationally, at times we step into generational blessings, we see things that started long before us, that catapult us into our destiny. Other times God is positioning us for other people to be blessed.
But you have to know: your life matters, you are important to God. He thought you are valuable, that he took time to plan all of your days before you were born. You have a divine assignment. The scripture says, "He's working all things according to the council of his will". That means he has the final say. He said his plans for you are for good. He said he will do exceedingly, abundantly all that you can imagine. Now, keep him first place, keep honoring him with your life. Do the right thing when it's hard, don't try to figure everything out, he's doing things that you can't understand right now, it won't make sense. If you have to know everything, you're going to be frustrated. Leave it in God's hands. "God, I don't know what you're doing, but I trust you. I know you're in control, that you're moving me in to my divine purpose".
It was a family that did missionary work in Mexico back in the 1950s, and they had young children that would go around with them singing and ministering. These children were very talented, great musicians. One of the sons in his teens left the church, and started singing in clubs and bars, struggled with addictions. Knew he was off course, he could feel the call of God on his life, but he kept being pulled away. My mother would see his name upon the marquees "Bill nash" in concert. She knew his background, how his family were missionaries, and so she would always pray for him. She never met him, didn't know the family, but for years she had this burden, "God, bring him back to church. Let him shine you".
Years later he was at a very low point, so distraught. He decided to get his life turned around, wanted to go to church, but he thought, "Nobody want me. I've made mistakes. I've lived a rough life. I don't fit in a church". Turned on the television, and there was my father, talking about the mercy of God, how you're never too far gone, how God is always standing with arms open wide, ready to receive you back. That Sunday he walked into Lakewood. First time he'd been to church in years. Someone recognized him in the very back, and took him down to see my mother, and she told how she'd been praying for him all those years. Big tears were running down his cheeks. That day was a turning point. Few months later bill gave his first Christian concert at Lakewood.
Well, fast forward 10 years, I was in the front lobby of the old church, the service was about to begin. I was and running upstairs to the TV department, and my dad was still the pastor, and the stairs were open to the lobby. Well, bill came around the corner at just the right time, said, "Hey, Joel, my cousin has a construction permit for the last full-powered television station in Houston. He would like you to be a part of it". We ended up purchasing the permit, putting the station on the air. I thought that's what I would do the rest of my life, be in production, run the station. 18 months later my father suddenly passed, and I became the pastor. Three years after that we got the Compaq Center. We took out a hundred-million-dollar loan to renovate this place. We had a balloon payment due before we could move in. We'd been raising the money, doing our best, but we weren't going to make it, we were significantly short. We decided to sell the station. We sold it in 60 days for 50% more than the leading experts told us we could get. It was those funds that allowed us to move into this building.
Now, look at how God was working: 60 years earlier a little boy was singing in a church in Mexico. I'm sure his family thought, "God, we raised him right, why did he get off course? Why is he not making good decisions"? But God knows how to use everything. Even things we don't understand. Had he not gotten off course, he wouldn't have seen my father, he wouldn't have ended up at Lakewood, I wouldn't have met him in the lobby, we would have never purchased the station, we would have the funds for this place. God is doing things that you can't see right now. We're looking at it situationally, he's working generationally. He can see the big picture. Now, there maybe things that don't make sense to you. You did the right thing, and the wrong thing happened. God is still in control. Don't judge your life by one season, let it unfold. You're going to see the hand of God, doing things you didn't see coming. I didn't see that station coming, but God put it in motion 70 years before I got here. He was working my behalf, orchestrating things in my future before I was born.
You don't know what God is up to. It looks like a setback, but really it's setting you up, it's positioning you for new levels of your destiny. David said in Psalm 31:14-15, "God, I trust you. My future is in your hands". Quit worrying about tomorrow. Your future is in God's hands. It's already been set. What God has purpose will come to pass. It's already lined up you're good breaks, the right people, solutions to problems. What you're worried about he's already worked out, it's a part of his divine plan. Why don't you come back to a place of peace, a place of faith? He didn't bring you this far to leave you. What he started he's going to finish. I believe and declare: like Zacchaeus, you're going to come into some of these trees, generational blessings, things God has been working on before you got here. Doors opening you couldn't open, the right people finding you, negative situation turning around, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. If you receive it, can you say amen?