Joel Osteen - Upstream Blessings
I want to talk to you today about Upstream Blessings. We all have situations where we're praying and believing, but we don't see anything happening. Our health isn't improving, child isn't turning around, we haven't met the right person. It's easy to get discouraged and think, that God didn't hear us. Maybe it's not meant to be. But what you can't see is God is working upstream. He said in Isaiah 45:2, "I will go ahead of you and make crooked places straight".
There are things he's already done. The moment you prayed he set the miracle into motion, he lined up the healing, the right person, the breaks you need. Now, the key is you have to stay in faith until those upstream blessings make it down to you. Thoughts would tell you, "It's never going to happen. Nothing's changing. Don't get your hopes up". Don't get talked out of it. If you're going to see upstream blessings, you have to have upstream faith. "I'm not by what I see, I know God is working, I know things have changed in my favor, I know the answer is on the way". If you have that kind of attitude, it's just a matter of time before you see what God has done upstream.
This is what Joshua had to do. Moses had just died, and now he was leading the Israelites toward the Promised Land. They were camped at the Jordan river. They needed to cross, but it was harvest season, the Jordan was overflowing its banks, was nearly a mile across. The current was strong, it was so forceful, there was no way. God told Joshua to tell the priest to take the Ark of the Covenant, that represented the presence of God, and to walk into the Jordan river. This was the first test of Joshua's leadership. 2 million Israelites were watching with great anticipation, believing that these waters were going to part like the Red Sea. The priest were walking slowly toward the banks, people praying and believing, "God, let it happen". As they got closer and closer, it was more and more intense, this incredible drama. Finally, their feet touched the water, this big moment and... Nothing happened! Everything looked just the same!
They went in ankle deep - nothing. Knee deep - still nothing. What do you do when you've done the right thing, but it doesn't work out? You took steps of faith, you prayed, you went the extra mile, but the waters didn't part, you didn't get the contract, your health didn't improve, the problem hasn't resolved? That's where Joshua was. He could've thought, "God, where are you? Why isn't it parting? I did what you said, I sent the priest in". I can hear people whispering, "We're never going to cross this river. Joshua is sure not like Moses, he doesn't have it". They didn't see any sign of things changing, nothing looked any different, rivers still swollen, current just as strong.
But the scripture says (Joshua 3:15-16), "The moment the feet of the priest touched the water at the river's edge, the water begin piling up at a town upstream called Adam". Adam was 20 miles from where they were. The miracle had happened, they just couldn't see it yet. 20 miles upstream God had damned up the waters, he stopped the flow, it was just a matter of time before the Israelites would see the effects of what God had already done upstream. The priest stood in the water, waited and waited... I can imagine after a couple of hours, all the Israelites were standing there kind of disappointed, thinking they were stuck. One of them said, "Is it my imagination or is the current not as strong? Doesn't look like it's flowing as fast". Other spoke up and said, "I think you're right, it doesn't look as swollen as it was. I think it's going down a little". Kept getting slow and slower, less and less water, until finally the whole riverbed was dry. The Israelites were able to walk across.
Like with them, there are things God has done in your life upstream. He's already taking care of what you're worried about, it's already damned up those waters, stop the sickness, broken the addiction, lined up the right person. Now you may not be able to see it yet, all the circumstances look just the same, the rivers still swollen, your business is still struggling, the medical report hasn't changed, your loved ones still off course. Don't let what's happening downstream talk you out of what God has done upstream. If you're going to see upstream blessings, you have to keep believing, keep praising, keep expecting. Walk by faith and not by sight. "I don't see any sign of it, nothing's improving, but God, I know you're working, I know you're faithful, I know what you promised me is on the way".
What's significant is the priest stayed in the water with the Ark of the Covenant until the waters receded. They could have waited five minutes and thought, "Well, we did what we were told to do, but nothing happened. Let's go back home". After 10 minutes they could have thought, "We're wasting our time". 30 minutes, "Come on, man, we look like fools out of here. Joshua didn't hear from God, he had too much pizza last night". After an hour, "I'm tired. The water is cold, my feet are hurting. This isn't meant to be".
No, these priest stayed there in faith. As they were standing in these waters that didn't part, in circumstances that weren't changing, every thought say, "It's not going to happen". I can hear them declaring, "The Lord is good, and his mercy endures for generations". I can hear them singing, "Way maker, promise keeper, you're the light in the darkness". I can hear one of them saying, "God, you've done it in the past, we know you're going to do it this time. That you're being for us is more than those that are against us. We will make it in our Promise Land".
They stood in faith, they stood knowing God was working, they stood expecting things to change. They didn't see how, they didn't know when, but one thing they knew was that God was faithful, that he was in control, that what he purposed would come to pass. When you're standing in those waters, believing for things to change and waiting for what God promised, the way you're going to stay in the water and not give up is by keeping the presence of God on your life, by praising him when you don't see anything changing, by thanking him that is on the way when there's no sign of it, by declaring his promises in the middle of water that's not moving.
The medical report says, "I'm not going to get well, but God, I believe you're restoring health back into me. My child's off course, but Lord, I want to thank you that as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. My business is slow, I lost that contract, but God, you said even in famine the righteous would have more than enough. Lord I thank you that I will lend and not borrow, that I will have a bountiful year".
Don't come out of that water. Your obedience stepping into the water is what activated the miracle, and it's going to be your obedience of staying in the water that will cause you to see what God's done upstream. The miracle was set in motion when you prayed. God dispatched angels with the healing, the favor, the freedom. But you may not see it right away. The waters may not part immediately. This is a test of your faith. A lot of people get out of the water, "Nothing happened, Joel, this doesn't work for me". No, the upstream blessing is there, but you have to have upstream faith, knowing that it's coming for it to get to you.
Daniel 10, Daniel had been praying, fasting, asking God to help him. Didn't seem like anything was happening, nothing was changing. And I'm sure he thought, "God, where are you? You brought me out of the lion's den, you didn't let king Nebuchadnezzar stop me, I've seen your power, you've shown me your favor, why aren't you doing anything now"? He was tempted to come out of the water, get discouraged and give up on what he was believing for. One morning he was out by a river, and he saw a vision. This angel appeared to him and said (in verse 12), "Daniel, from the first day you prayed, your request was heard in heaven".
When we don't see anything happening we think, "God must not have heard us, nothing is changing". No, the moment you prayed, God heard your request. The angel went on to say, "God sent me with the answer, but for 21 days the prince of Persia blocked me. Then Michael, the Archangel, came and helped me break through the opposition". Notice, the first day he prayed, something happened upstream. God set the miracle into motion, but for 21 days the waters didn't recede so to speak. For 21 days every thought told Daniel, "What had happened by now? It's not meant to be". Daniel could have been talked out of it, but he had upstream faith. His attitude was, "I know there are things that God has already done that I can't see right now, so I'm going to keep believing, expecting, praising, knowing that it's on the way".
When you have kind of attitude, you're going to come in to your 21st day. Like with Daniel, the moment you prayed, according to God's word, he did something upstream. He dispatched the angel, he set things in motion. You can't see it right now, but upstream things have changed in your favor, upstream healing has been released, upstream the right people have been lined up, upstream the breaks you need, the restoration, the vindication has been put in place. It's in your future. Don't let what's happening downstream talk you out of the blessings that are upstream. Angels have been dispatched with your name on them, bringing healing, favor, abundance. Now, do your part and have upstream faith: "God, I believe the moment I prayed you not only heard me, but you answered my prayer. I'm not moved by what I see, I'm moved by what I know. I know you're faithful, I know I'm healed, I know I'm blessed, I know my children are mighty in the land. I know my latter will be better than my former days".
When Joshua was standing at the Jordan river, I'm sure his mind flashed back to a time when he was much younger. He and the Israelites had just come out of slavery, they were at the Red Sea, but the Pharaoh changed his mind and came chasing after them, was at dead end: the sea on one side, the Pharaoh and the armies on the other. He saw his mentor Moses hold up his rod, and there was this great wind with such force that it pushed back the water, instantly it part. Those 2 million people walk through this dry path with walls of water 20 feet high on each side. The hand of God supernaturally making a way. Well, fast forward many years, when Joshua was at this Jordan river, he sent these priests into the water, and I'm sure he was expecting this huge wind, something supernatural to instantly push the waters back, make walls where they could pass through. This time nothing happened. They didn't feel any wind, see any water moving, hear anything different.
But just because God did it one way, doesn't mean he's going to do it that way every time. Sometimes the miracle is going to take place, but it's going to be upstream. It was no less of a miracle, it just didn't happen where they could see it right there. If they woulda had cellphones, someone would have called, "Hey, it happened! The Jordan quit flowing! Somehow got all damned up, just stay in peace, it's a matter of time for you see what God has done". See, it's easy to have faith when you have a Red Sea miracle, when God does something instantly, turns it around you can see it, feel it, touch it. It's easy to say, "God, you are good, thank you for what you've done". But real faith is when you don't see anything happening, nothing's moving, but you thank God that he's working upstream. You know, the moment you prayed, things shifted in your favor.
You say, "God, I don't see it, but I believe you're working. I don't feel any better, but I know I'm healed. The angel hasn't shown up yet, but I know my breakthrough is on the way". See, downstream faith says, "I'll believe when I see things changing. When my health starts to improve, when I get that promotion, when my boss begins to treat me better, then I'll thank God, Joel, then I'll have a good attitude". Here's the problem: you won't see upstream blessings, if you only have downstream faith. And sure, sometimes God's good, you'll see the Red Sea part, God does it instantly, he begins to turn it around, but there will be these times where you come to a Jordan river: you prayed, you stood in faith, you declared his promises, but the waters didn't part, the wind didn't blow, the angel didn't show up.
Are you going to get discouraged, give up on what you're believing for, only have downstream faith? Or you going to dig your heels in and say, "I'm not moved by what I don't see. God, I know upstream you've already changed things, you've already damned up the waters, stop this sickness, lined up the promotion, set the right people in my path. Lord, I thank you that is on the way".
God has upstream blessings for you, things you're believing for. He's already set into motion, but he's looking for upstream faith. Don't get talked out of it, don't let what hasn't happened, how long it's been, how unlikely it looks convince you to quit believing. Stay in those waters, and keep the Ark of the Covenant with you, keep the presence of God, "Lord, I thank you that you're fighting my battles. Thank you that what you promised me is on the way. I know your favor surrounds me, goodness and mercy are following me. What you have purposed for my life will come to pass".
When my mother was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer back in 1981, the doctors gave her a few weeks to live. There was no treatment they could give her, and they send her home at 46 years old, basically to die. On December 11th she and my father laid on the ground in their bedroom and asked God for a miracle. They prayed the prayer of faith. Not, "God, why did this happen? Just let her die in peace, it must be her time to go". No they said, "God, we know you're the healer. You can do what medicine cannot do. God, we're asking you to give her more years, to restore health back into her. God, you said with long life you would satisfy us". They prayed a bold prayer. Like Moses, they held up that rod, but the waters didn't part. She wasn't at a Red Sea, she was at a Jordan river. Nothing happened, she didn't feel any better, look any better, the medical report didn't change.
My mother could have been depressed, thoughts were telling her, "You're done. You heard the doctors, a few weeks to live, just accept it". But my parents believed that when they prayed God did something upstream, that the tide in to turn, that the miracle was set in motion. Like those priest, my mother never got out of the water. She didn't see anything improving, but that didn't change her mindset. I would hear her going through the house, "I will live and not die, and declare the works of the Lord. God is restoring health back into me. What he started in my life he will finish". She had upstream faith. "I don't see it, feel it, no sign of it, but I believe it's already done. I believe things have changed. That this angel has been dispatched with my name on it".
Months went by and nothing really happened, no sign of improvement, but we begin to realize she's still here. They said a few weeks, and it's been 6 months, she's not any worse. It's been 9 months, she hasn't gone downhill. We realized the waters were receding, the healing was coming. Little by little she got better and better, until one day few years later she was back to normal, completely healthy. No medical explanation, no logical solution, was a hand of God. Here's my point: it was upstream. The miracle had taken place, but it hadn't flowed down to her yet.
If you only have downstream faith, "Joel, I'll believe when I see it", that's going to keep you from upstream blessings. The things you're concerned about now, dreams you want to accomplish, and situations need to turn around, you'll be tempted to get discouraged, think God hasn't heard you, why isn't it happening. Can I encourage you? It's upstream. God has already taken care of it. Now, stay in faith while it flows downstream. Don't get talked out of it while you're waiting for things to change.
When Moses was 120 years old, he was about to die, he told the Israelites that he wasn't going to cross the Jordan river and go into the Promised Land, but that Joshua was their new leader, and they were to follow him. He said in Deuteronomy 31:3, "The Lord himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy the nations and give you the land". He was saying, "You're going to face situations where you don't think you can make it: the people are too big, the opposition too strong, but don't worry, God is going ahead of you, he's going to crossover and do what you can't do". He was telling them, "There are going to be upstream blessings waiting for you, things that can't see right now, favor, influence, resources. The Lord your God is going ahead of you". He was getting them prepared in their thinking to not let the circumstances talk them out of what God had already done.
He said in verse 8, "Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord himself is the one who goes before you. He will never fail you or never forsake you". Three times in six verses he said, "God will go ahead of you". God is saying unto you what he said to the Israelites. You're going to come in to some upstream blessings, things that God has already made happen, opportunity, healing, abundance. God is going before you right now, but here's the key: don't let downstream doubt keep you from upstream blessings. Instead of thinking about how big the obstacle is, how you never pay your house off, never meet the right person, why don't you have upstream faith? "God, I thank you that you're going ahead of me, opening doors that no person can shut. Doing what medicine cannot do. Taking me where I can't go on my own. Father, thank you for those upstream blessings".
Few years ago my brother Paul was in Haiti right after a big earthquake. And he and a team of surgeons, were operating on the injured, and taking care of people. And at one point the main monitor they were using during surgery to see the patient blood pressure and vital signs went out. Without that monitor they couldn't do anymore surgeries. The man in charge searched the little hospital, they looked everywhere, but couldn't find one. Paul and his team started making phone calls, but nothing was available. Takes several days to have one flown in from the States, and looked like they were at a standstill. Few hours later the hospital administrator, this local Haitian man came in carrying a brand-new monitor still in the box. They opened it, and it was exactly what they needed, all the right connections. And Paul and the other surgeons were so surprised that he would have the exact monitor.
He told how 2 years earlier he was at a hospital administrator's conference in the US. Everyone that attended was entered into a contest for a door prize. Out of several thousand people it just so happened that he won this monitor. He had no need for it at the time, it was still in storage. But God is going ahead of you. He knows what you're going to need in the future. That was an upstream blessing. God had the solution before they had the problem. He said in Isaiah, "Before you call I will answer you". That's why we can live in peace, not worried about our children, stress over our health, losing sleep over our finances. God is going ahead of you. There are things he is doing right now that you can't see. Maybe the waters aren't party, you don't see any sign of things changing. That's okay, have upstream faith. God is working, he's taking care of what you're concerned about. The angel has already been dispatched with the answer. There are upstream blessings coming your way.
Genesis 24, Abraham was living in the land of Canaan. He told his main assistant to go back to his original hometown, which was 400 miles away, and find a wife for his son Isaac. You can imagine the pressure on this man, "You want me to pick out a wife or your son"? He said in verse 5, "What if I can't find a young woman that will travel that far from home"? Abraham answered, "The Lord my God will send his angel ahead of you, and he will see to it that you find the right wife for my son".
Notice how Abraham believed in upstream blessings. He could've thought, "You're right. Good luck, just do the best you can". No, his attitude is was, "God is going before me. He's already arranged what I need. I know, the right person is on the way". This man arrived at Abraham's hometown, and he was waiting out by the stream. He prayed, "God, let the right girl for Isaac not only give me a drink when I ask, but let her bring water to my camels as well. That way I'll know she's the one". This you beautiful young woman came to this dream. He said, "I'm traveling through town, would you mind getting me a drink"? She said, "Sure, and let me get water for your camels too". The first girl that showed up was a divine connection. Her name was Rebecca, she became Isaac's wife.
It's easy to go through life worried, "How's it going to work out? I don't see anything happening. What if I don't meet the right person"? No, stay in peace, God has upstream blessings waiting for you. He's going before you right now. He's already sent the angel ahead of you, lining up the right people, the good breaks, the healing. Now, do your part and have upstream faith. The Jordan river may not be party, you don't see anything happening, but upstream the miracle has already taken place. God has stopped the water, it's just a matter of time before you see things change in your favor.
And don't let what you can't see talk you out of what has already happened. Walk by faith and not by sight. Keep believing, keep expecting, keep praising. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: you're about to see some upstream blessings. Like with the Israelites, those waters are about to recede. What you've been praying about is on the way. Like with Abraham, the right people are going to be waiting for you. Breakthroughs are coming, promotion, healing, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen today? Amen!