Joel Osteen - Necessary Endings
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I want to talk to you today about Necessary Endings. We all have times when things come to an end that we weren't expecting. We were going along fine, enjoying life, then the company downsizes, and we're let go. A relationship doesn't work out. The door closes on a dream, we didn't have any control over it. It's easy to get discouraged, "God where were you"? But God is called the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He has designed certain things to come to an end to move us into a new level of our destiny. We may not understand it, doesn't make sense, but it's a necessary ending. Without that door closing you wouldn't see the greater things God has in store. And we're believing, holding on to our dreams, standing on the promises, but sometimes it takes more faith to accept what God is doing, to recognize that the ending is a part of his plan.
The same God that opens doors, closes doors. The same place you saw abundance in one season, may seem like a famine in another. You had a great friendship with that co-worker, but now things have changed, they've moved on. If you don't understand that God has necessary endings, you'll fight every closed door, try to hold on to things that God has done with. But the ending wasn't random. You're not just unlucky, a bad break, it was the hand of God. The author and the finisher. When that door closes, keep your fingers and your feelings out of the door. You'll be tempted to hold on, "Why did this happen? It's not fair". Let it go. God is in control of your life. He's the one that opens doors, and closes doors. He's the one that changes seasons. You were in spring, now maybe you're going into winter. That means you're getting prepared to blossom in new ways.
I've learned: God never brings things to an end without having something better coming, something more rewarding, more fulfilling, new relationships, new dreams, new mountains to climb. Instead of seeing it as a bad break, try a new perspective, "This was a necessary ending. God stopped it, so I could see the greater things he has in store".
When God brought the Israelites out of slavery, they were in the desert headed toward the Promised Land. There were two million people, but nothing to eat. So every morning God gave them manna, something like bread that formed on the ground. For 40 years they had this supernatural provision. Wherever they went, they could count on that manna would be there. But when they got close to the Promised Land, the scripture says (Joshua 5:12), "The manna ceased and they never saw manna again". Imagine going out one morning to get breakfast, like you've done for four decades, all of a sudden there's no manna. They were confused, "God, what's going on? Where are you? Did we do something wrong"?
What do you do when what's worked in the past doesn't work anymore? Seems like the favor is gone. I'm sure they were worried, but the reason God stopped the manna is they were about to go into the Promised Land. Had he not stopped that temporary provision, they would have been satisfied to live off the manna the rest of their lives. They were comfortable, they were satisfied, but God was not satisfied. He didn't want them to live off of manna, he was taking them to a land flowing with milk and honey, a land of abundance, where the clusters of grapes were so large, it took two people to carry them. The manna ceasing wasn't a bad break, it wasn't random, it was a necessary ending. God stopped the manna to push them in to the fullness of what he had in store.
They could have been stubborn, "I'm not going to this new place, I'm going to keep believing for this manna. I've seen it before, I believe it'll come back again". When something comes to an end, don't stay where God was, go where God is, go into the new thing. It doesn't mean the old was bad, the manna you had, that was a good season. You were grateful, you can celebrate the time you had, celebrate the friendship, the opportunity, the life of that loved one that passed. That was all a part of God's plan for your life. But now you have to accept the new thing God is doing. Don't get stuck in the old. God likes freshness. He's not going to let you get stagnant, he changes seasons, he closes doors to force us into new opportunities, new growth, new relationships.
If you don't understand that he has necessary endings, then you'll get bitter when the manna ceases. "Why did this door close? Why did this person walk away? Why did this contract get canceled"? God knows what he's doing. Without that ending, you wouldn't see your Promised Land. But we get comfortable with the manna too. We don't like change, we don't want to have to stretch, but God loves us too much to let us stay in the desert. He's not going to let you stay at one level, he'll close doors, stop provision, cause people to walk away. When the manna ceases, it's not because you've lost his favor, it's because a new door is about to open, you're going to see favor in greater ways, you're going to discover talent you didn't know you had, see friendships, opportunities, fulfillment more than you've imagined. The right attitude is, "God, I trust you. I don't like this, but I know, it's a necessary ending, that you're ordering my steps, that you wouldn't have allowed this manna to cease, unless you had something better coming".
When I was 19 years old, I came back from college to start a television ministry here at Lakewood. My brother and sisters all got their four-year degree, but I took the one year plan. I didn't need as much as them. I always knew I wanted to work at the church, and I loved production, editing, lighting. I was young, I had a lot of enthusiasm, but I didn't have a lot of training. So we hired this man that was in his 60s, very seasoned producer. He'd worked for the today show, and went on to produce big network specials. He was very talented, and very experienced. He and I hit it all. He was so friendly, I was with him night and day, learning so much, and he taught me about what the right camera angles were, about good pacing, about lighting.
As I watched him direct the program with my father up there speaking, I was in awe. I thought, "He is so amazing. How does he know how to do all this"? I felt so blessed to have him, but one morning after about a year he came in and said, "Joel, I'm moving back to California. I've done everything I need to do here". I almost passed out. I said, "Are you kidding? You can't move. Everything's going to fall apart. Who's going to do the program"? He looked at me and said, "You are. You know how to do what I do. You can direct, you can edit, you can put the program together". I thought, "There's no way". We offered him more money, we said, "You can live in California, just fly in a couple weekends a month". None of that worked. He was set, "I'm done here".
When God closes a door, you can't open it. If someone wants to leave, you have to accept that their a part in your story is over. Some people are like scaffolding, they come into your life for a season to get you to a certain point, but if they stayed they would limit your growth. That scaffolding has to come off, so you can rise higher. I was praying, "God, change his mind. God, call him to want to stay". Sometimes we're praying against what God has ordained, what he has set in motion. We think, "Man, the enemy is shutting this door". No, the enemy is not in control of your doors, God is your doorkeeper, he's the one that opens and closes doors. He brings people in, and moves people out.
My friend left and went back to California, and I had to get out of my comfort zone, stretch, grow, start doing things I never thought I could do. As I stepped up, I discovered it wasn't as hard as I thought. First month went by, I thought, "I'm not too bad at this". Six months went by, I thought, "I'm pretty good at this". A year later I thought, "What do we ever need him for"? Had God not close that door, I would have never stepped into my potential. Had that manna not ceased, I'd still be in the desert so to speak, I wouldn't have seen the abundance, the favor that God had in store for me. At the time I didn't like it. I was fighting it, but I realized now: it was a necessary ending. It was the hand of God shutting a door to force me into my purpose. Quit being discouraged over who walked away. If they left you, you didn't need them. If they walked away, let them go. God has new relationships, new opportunities. If you had to have them to fulfill your destiny, they wouldn't be able to leave.
In the scripture, Ruth and her sister-in-law Orpah both lost their husbands. Their mother-in-law, Naomi, since her sons had died, she was moving back to her hometown of Bethlehem. She told Ruth and Orpah to go back to their hometowns, hopefully they'd find another husband. Oprah said, "That's a great idea". She kissed Naomi and moved on. But Ruth said, "Naomi, I'm not going to leave you. Your God will be my God, your home will be my home". Naomi said, "No, Ruth, I'm an old woman. Don't come with me, there's no future here, go live your life". But Ruth wouldn't leave her. She went back with Naomi. She met her husband there, ended up becoming the great great grandmother of king David. My point is: the people that are supposed to stay with you, you won't be able to get rid of. You can't talk them out of it. They'll stick with you through thick and thin. On the other hand the people that are supposed to go, you can't convince them to stay.
When God closes the door, you can't pay them enough, compliment them enough, treat them good enough. You have to accept that it's a necessary ending, that God is changing the season. And they may be a good person, you enjoyed the time together, but to become who you were created to be, they have to exit the stage. You have to move forward into new relationships, new opportunities, and new growth. I think one of the hardest things for us is to let things go. We fight closed doors, get discouraged over who walked away, and bitter over the dream that didn't work out. You have to realize: God stopped it not to make your life miserable, but to get you into your Promised Land. The manna ceased because he's taken you into something bigger, better, more fulfilling. May not make sense right now: the disappointment, the loss, the rejection, but later on you'll see what God was up to. If he hadn't closed that door, you wouldn't have stepped into the new level. If he hadn't caused that person to move on, you wouldn't have met that divine connection. If that opportunity didn't dry up, you wouldn't have discovered the potential in you. Trust him when you don't understand. He opens doors, and he closes doors. It's not random, it's a necessary ending.
Happened to my father, he was pastoring a church back in the late 1950s. He'd been there for years, church was growing, they just built a new sanctuary, his future looks so bright. My sister Lisa was born with a birth injury, and the doctors told my parents that she may never walk or be able to feed herself. My father went to a hotel downtown for a few days to pray and read the scripture. He told how he took off his denominational glasses, and read the Bible like he was reading it for the first time. He saw how Jesus went around healing people, how he's a God that can do the impossible. He was taught in seminary that the day of miracles was over. He came back to his church so fired up, and started preaching this new message of faith and victory. He thought they'd be so excited, but it was just the opposite. It didn't fit into their tradition. It caused so much contention, and so much discord, they ended up asking my parents to leave.
They never dreamed that would happen. These were their friends, people they had spent years with, now they felt the sting of rejection. It was unfair, didn't make sense. Here's the key: it wasn't the enemy pushing them out, it was the hand of God shutting that door. And they couldn't see it, it was painful, but instead of sitting around in self-pity, thinking about what didn't work out, they went out and found an old rundown feed store. Mother's day 1959, they started Lakewood. They weren't in the big beautiful sanctuary, stained glass windows, like they had just built. They were in this little feed store. Instead of having a thousand members, they had 90. Looked like it was a big setback, the truth is it was a big setup for what God was about to do.
My parents stayed faithful. The church grew from 90 to 200, then they had to build an auditorium for a thousand, then four thousand, then eight thousand. 64 years later we're still going strong. But looking back now, we can see that was a necessary ending. Had the manna not stop, had the people not ask them to leave, we wouldn't have Lakewood. They wouldn't have seen the abundance, the new levels, the new growth. The fact is: they were happy with the manna, they were satisfied wherever they were, but God has so much more in store. You haven't seen, heard or imagined what he has in your future. And sometimes to take you to the next level, he has to close a door, he'll do things you don't understand, that don't make sense. Looks like a bad break, a disappointment, but really it's a necessary ending. It's God closing a door, because he's about to open a much bigger door. He's going to take you where you've never imagined.
And yes, the rejection was unfair, the people that walked away was discouraging, the loss of that loved one was painful, but you're right where the Israelites were. The manna ceased. You could be down, "God, I don't understand it". Have this new perspective: the manna ceasing is a sign you're about to come into abundance, overflow, divine connections, good breaks that catapult you ahead. It's easy to trust God when everything's going our way, doors opening, children succeeding, relationships healthy. The question is: will you trust him when doors close, when people walk away, when the dream doesn't work out? It's not happenstance, not just a bad break, it's a necessary ending. It's God positioning you for the new things he's about to do.
God wouldn't have closed the door unless he was going to open up a better door. He wouldn't have let Orpah walk away, unless he was bringing somebody even better. He's taken you from glory to glory. Now one level of glory may come to an end, so you can step into the greater glory. Don't get stuck looking back, trying to figure out, "Why didn't it work out? Why did they treat me this way? Why did my business slow down"? Just keep moving forward, honoring God, knowing that it was a necessary ending, that God wouldn't have stopped it if he didn't have something better coming. Are you fighting endings, bitter over what God stopped, discouraged over what didn't last? What if you knew that it had to happen? And even though it felt like a bad break, it was God leading you into the fullness of your destiny.
Jesus was hanging on the cross, wearing a crown of thorns. Before he passed he said, "It is finished". Seemed like he was done, they had finally killed him, he even admitted it was over. But the truth is: it was a necessary ending. It was all a part of God's plan. If he wasn't supposed to be crucified, he would have never gone to the cross. He told the soldiers, "I could call down ten thousand angels right now to come rescue me". He was saying, "You think you're in control, that you're getting the best of me, but my Father is in control. You didn't take my life, I'm laying it down". Without that ending we wouldn't have salvation. His life in his physical body ceased, but only so he could rise again, come back with a glorified body, with all power, with the keys of death and hell. When it's a necessary ending, God is up to something big. And thought was whispering, "Where is your God now? How come you're going through the hurt, the breakup, the lost"? No, don't worry, your time is coming. God wouldn't have allowed it if you weren't about to step in to your Promised Land.
Mary Magdalene and some other women went to the tomb that Sunday morning. They were going to put perfume on Jesus body. An angel met them there, and said (Luke 24:5), "Why do you seek the living among the dead? Jesus is not here, he has risen". The angel was saying, "Why are you going to where God was? You need to go to where God is". Why are you stuck on who hurt you, who walked away, who pushed you out? That had to end. That door had to close. That manna had to cease, so you could go to the next level of victory, abundance and favor.
When Jesus said, "It is finished", that was symbolic. It was showing us that when God puts an end to things, in the natural sometimes it will look like it's done. Jesus breathed his last breath, his lungs weren't moving anymore, no pulse. The soldiers even declared, "He died. He couldn't save himself". All the circumstances said it was over, but God wouldn't have allowed the end if he didn't have a greater beginning coming. Don't go about what it looks like. God is doing things that you can't see. In them natural it may look like the enemy got the best of you, the door closed, person walked away, the business didn't make. It the only reason the manna stopped is because there's a Promised Land in your future, there's something bigger, better, more rewarding than you can imagine.
I talked to a lady that owns her own business, and she at least spaced in this shopping mall for many years, always paid her bills, was a good tenant. One day she received an email from her landLord, saying they were going to double her rent. Came out of nowhere, didn't give her any warning. She couldn't make a profit paying that much, they were basically forcing her out of business. She was discouraged, didn't understand it. One night she was flipping through the channels, and came across our program. And I was talking along these lines about how sometimes God will allow a door to close to open something better, how it won't always make sense, but to trust that he has our best interests at heart. She hadn't been able to sleep, she was so worried, she came back to that place of peace, believing that God was ordering her steps.
A couple of weeks later a man called that she had never met, and said that he had twice the space in a better shopping center for half the cost. She couldn't believe it. She didn't find him, he came to her. She moved in there, and she told me in the lobby, "Joel, I've never been so blessed, never dreamed I'd have this much business". It looked like a setback, but really it was God setting her up to do something more than she could imagine. And I know we have to hold on to our dreams, we have to stand in faith, but we also have to realize that God has necessary endings. Sometimes he'll stop things, he'll cause the manna to cease, he'll push you out like with my father. It's because he has something better coming.
Trust him with your closed doors. He controls the seasons. And sometimes you're in spring for a long time, blossoming, fruitful, then the season changes. You come into winter. God will stop things that we're working. If you're stubborn, you try to force it, and get upset because it's not what it used to be, then you'll live frustrating. Be open to what God is doing. He's the author and the finisher. There are times he will say, "This season is finished". It was a good season, it was productive, you enjoyed it, but to see the new things he has in store, that season will come to an end. That's when you have to trust, "God, you know what's best for me. I may not like this, but I'm going to stay in faith, knowing that this is a necessary ending, and it's leading me to a greater beginning".
1 Kings chapter 17, God told Elijah to go to the brook Cherith, and the ravens would feed him there. He arrived at the brook, and just like God promised, he had provision week after week. He didn't have to go get the food, every day like clockwork the ravens came to him. I'm sure he thought, "Doesn't get any better than this. I'm so blessed". He was comfortable, he knew God's favor was on him, but after a few months the ravens quit coming, the brooks dried up. God told him to leave that place, and go to the city of Zarephath, a widow would take care of them there. He could have thought, "This couldn't be God. This is where I've seen provisions, this is where I've seen favor". He could have been stubborn and tried to stay in what used to be. The problem was, there was no provision there anymore. He didn't do something wrong, he didn't run out of favor, it was God stopping it to move him into a new level of his destiny.
When he got to Zarephath, that's when his ministry began. He saw some of the greatest miracles recorded in the scripture. But it's significant that it happened after the brook dried up, after the ravens quit coming. That door closing wasn't a bad break, he wasn't unlucky, it was a necessary ending. Don't fight the things that God brings to an end. It may be the way you thought your dream would work out. "I thought I'd always be by this brook, Joel. I thought I'd always have this friend". In my own life I thought I'd always be behind the scenes. I thought I'd always be in television productions. But when my father passed, God put an end to that. He had to close that door, so I would step into the new things that he had in store.
Stay open: God's ways are not our ways. Sometimes the brook will dry up, sometimes the manna will cease, sometimes Orpah will walk away. Those aren't random, those are necessary endings. It's the hand of God closing one door, to open another door. And yes, hold on to your dreams, hold on to those promises, but stay open to how God is going to do it. Some of the things we're worried about, losing sleep, trying to make work out, we don't realize: God is the one changing the seasons, moving people out, pushing us into our purpose. When seasons are changing, don't get stuck where God was, go where God is. He's doing a new thing. The manna ceasing means: you're about to go into your Promised Land. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: like the Israelites, you're going to see supernatural provision, abundance, opportunity. Like Elijah, that closed door is leading to the best part of your life, greater favor, greater relationships, better health, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen?