Joel Osteen — An Expected End
I want to talk to you today about "An expected end". I was with a well-known actor a few years ago, and he not only stars in major movies, he writes them. We walked into this room that had a large, glass wall overlooking his property. There were all these five by seven index cards stuck up on the wall, probably 150 of them.
He explained how he was writing a movie and those were all the different scenes. He studies them and moves things around, adds a scene here, takes away a scene there. He told, to have a good movie, you need ups and downs, conflicts and victories, good characters and bad, twists and turns. While it was very fascinating, it was very confusing. It looked so complicated.
I said to him, "How do you even know where to start? He said, "Oh, that's the easy part. You always start with your final scene. You have to decide how you want the movie to end. Once you establish the ending, then you work backwards and fill in all the details". He said, "In fact, in a lot of movies, you don't shoot in sequential order. Sometimes you shoot the final scene first, and then you shoot the rest of the movie".
This is what God has done for each one of us. The scripture says God declares the end from the beginning. When God planned out your life, he started with your final scene. He started with where he wants you to end up, Jeremiah said, "God's plans for you are for good and not harm, to give you an your end has already been established". Your final scene has already been shot.
The good news, you don't end in defeat, end in failure, end in disappointment. You end in victory. You end as more than a conqueror. You end fulfilling your purpose. When you understand your end has been established, you won't go through life discouraged because of a disappointment, bitter because of a loss, frustrated because a dream hasn't come to pass. You'll stay in peace knowing that, in the end, it's all going to work out to your advantage.
But here's the key, like any good movie, there will be twists and turns. You think, "I know I'm supposed to be going this way, why am I going the opposite direction? My goal is over here. Why am I headed the wrong way"? There will be scenes that, on their own, don't make sense. If you stop right there, the divorce, the sickness, the loss would look like it didn't work for your good. Looks like it got the best of you. What you don't realize is that is not your final scene.
As long as you're breathing, your movie is still going, and you may be in a difficult scene right now, something you don't understand, negative medical report, setback in your finances. You have to remind yourself that is not how your story ends. You have an expected end.
The Creator of the universe, the most high God, has planned your days for good, not harm, and if you'll keep moving forward, at some point, you'll come into another twist, but this time a good break, a promotion, a healing. God knows how to weave it all together.
Your end has already been we see this principle in the life of Joseph. God destined him to become a great leader, to rule a nation, to help the israelites during a time of famine. It had already been established, and Joseph started off well. As a young man, he was his father's favorite child, went around wearing that coat of many colors, the coat that represented favor.
But at 17 years of age, Joseph's life had an unusual twist. His brothers were jealous, they sold him into slavery. He could've been discouraged and thought, "I must not have heard God right. He showed me a dream that I'd rule a nation, but it sure didn't happen". No, Joseph understood this principle, he knew that was just one scene. He knew his end had already been established, so he kept being his best.
He was lied about, falsely accused, they put him in prison, another unusual twist. It looked like he was moving away from his destiny, and this is the real test of life: will you stay in faith when you're doing the right thing, but the wrong thing is happening? Will you continue being your best even when you're not getting the credit? Will you stay passionate even though the door closed, you didn't get the promotion, you think you're moving the wrong way?
This is where Joseph excelled. In prison, he didn't fall apart. He kept doing the right thing, and 13 years after he was sold into slavery, he interpreted a dream for the pharaoh. Pharaoh was so impressed that he brought him out of prison and put him in charge of the whole nation. He saw his dream come to pass. He saw the expected end.
If Joseph were standing here today, he would tell you, "Don't get discouraged by the detours, by the twists of life, by the things you don't understand". They are all necessary scenes in your movie. By themselves, they may not make sense, but when God brings it all together, you too will come out fulfilling your purpose, but this is where many people get frustrated, lose their passion.
"Joel, if God was good, why did I have the bad break? Why did I go through the loss? Why didn't my relationship make it"? We may never understand why, but I can tell you this. God wouldn't have allowed it if it wasn't going to somehow work for your good.
Nothing that's happened to you can keep you from your destiny. The only thing that can stop you is you. If you get negative, bitter, lose your passion, that can keep you from God's best, and you may have had unfair things happen, but I've learned the depth of your pain is an indication of the height of your future.
When construction workers are going to build a tall building, they have to dig down many stories first for the foundation. Taller the building, the deeper the foundation, and when you go through things that you don't understand, difficult situations, you may not like it, it may be uncomfortable, but God is getting you prepared to take you higher than you've ever imagined. You may think it's there to defeat you, but God's going to use it to promote you.
No bad break can stop you. All the forces of darkness cannot hold you back. God has an expected end for you. But again, along the way, everything is not going to make sense. This is what faith is all about. You have to trust that even in the twists of life, in the things you don't understand, that God still knows what he's doing.
That even when, promised you one thing, but you're seeing just the opposite, defeat, betrayal, that's when you have to dig your heels in and say, "God, I don't understand it, but I trust you. I believe your plans for me are for good, that you've already shot my final scene, you've already established my end. So lord, I want to thank you that I will fulfill my purpose, that I will become everything you've created me to be".
I've heard it said God always ends in all is well, so if all is not well, that simply means it's not the end. "Well, Joel, it's not well in my finances. I lost a big client last week, I'm discouraged". No, stay in peace, it's not the end. That's just one scene. Favor is coming. Promotion, good breaks are headed your way. If it's not well in your health, don't settle there, think, "Well, this is the way it's always going to be". No, another scene is coming.
God promises the number of your days he will fulfill. If it's not your time to go, you're not going to go. Maybe it's not well in a relationship, you went through a breakup, you're lonely, you don't think you'll ever meet the right person. That's not the end. That one disappointment, that one person that left, they can't change your ending. They can't rewrite your movie. God has already established it. They don't have that much power. God has already lined up the person of your dreams, somebody better than you can imagine.
They're just a couple of scenes away, just a matter Isaiah said, "What God has purposed, who can annul"? This means God has a purpose for your life. He's planned out your days, lined up your scenes, and established your ending. Then it asked, "Who can stop it"? Into space. I spoke worlds into existence. I'm the all-powerful Creator of the universe. Now, who can stop my plan for your life? Who can change your ending"?
People can't, unfair situations can't, tragedy can't. God has the final say, and when you're on one of those detours, something that doesn't make sense, you don't understand it, don't get upset, it's just one scene.
When it all comes together, like Joseph, it's going to work for your good. See, if Joseph hadn't have been betrayed by his brothers, if he hadn't been sold into slavery, if he hadn't been put into prison, he would've never made it to his throne.
Those were all necessary scenes on the way to his established end. What am I saying? What you may think is a setback is really a setup for God to get you to the fullness now, we can either go through life fighting everything we don't like, upset, bitter, offended, or we can stay in peace knowing that God is directing our steps, and even the twists, the things we don't understand, in the end they will work to our advantage.
Sometimes when I'm traveling and not able to watch a ballgame at home, I'll record it. A few weeks back, there was an important basketball game on that I missed, and I sat down the next week to watch it, and I already knew the outcome. I mean, I'd seen all the highlights, read the news reports. The team I was pulling for had won. We played really badly, could hardly make a shot, fell behind.
I didn't get the least bit worried. I just sat there calmly enjoying the game. The next quarter, the star player got in foul trouble, had to sit the bench. We fell further behind. I didn't get uptight. Came out the second half, started off just as badly, couldn't do anything right. Normally, I would've been on the edge, what's going to happen. But since I knew the outcome, it totally changed my perspective.
In fact, the further behind we fell, the more I thought, "Wow, this is going to be some kind of comeback. I can't wait to see what's going to happen". All the worry, the anxiety was taken away because of the expected end.
There are times in life when it looks like our opponents, the depression, the sickness, the legal situation is getting the best of us. We're falling behind, it's easy to get discouraged. "Oh Joel, I can't accomplish my dreams, the odds are against me. I'll never get well, the medical report's too bad".
Just like this ballgame that was recorded, you have to remind yourself that the end has already been set, and when you feel like you're falling behind, you're outclassed, outsized, outnumbered, instead of being discouraged, have this new perspective. That means you're about to see a major comeback. Any moment things are going to shift in your favor, a good break, a promotion, a healing. God says he always causes you to triumph. Not part of the time, not most of the time, God's already lined up your victory parade.