Joel Osteen — Even Now Faith
I want to talk to you today about "Even now faith". We all face situations that look like they're never going to work out. We don't see how we could get out of debt, how we could accomplish a dream. It's been too long. The odds are against us.
Too often, we settle where we are and just accept the fact that, "Hey, it wasn't meant to be," and in the scripture, there's a lady named Martha that faced one of these impossible situations. Her brother Lazarus was extremely sick. Martha and her sister Mary were very close to Jesus so they sent word for Jesus to come to their house and pray for Lazarus.
Well, Jesus was in another city and he kept getting delayed. A day went by and Martha said to her assistant, "Did you tell Jesus it was me asking for him"? The assistant said, "Yes, I told him it was you". "Well, did you tell him "Yes, I told him it was urgent". Another day went by, and they're waiting and waiting. Night falls and still no sign of Jesus. They wake up early the next morning, looking out the windows, knowing that any moment, Jesus would arrive. After all, it's been 3 days since they first asked for him. They're getting more and more upset, "Where is he? I can't understand what's taking him so long"?
Finally, their worst nightmare comes true, Lazarus died. They're distraught, upset. They've just lost their brother. To make matters worse, they knew that their good friend Jesus could have healed Lazarus. They had seen him open blind eyes, cure the lepers, turn water into wine. It would have been no big deal for Jesus to heal their brother. Four days after Lazarus had died, Jesus showed up, knocked on the front door, said, "Here I am. What can I do for you"?
Has it ever seemed like God showed up too late? You prayed, you believed, but the problem didn't turn around. The medical report wasn't good. The business didn't make it. Martha was crying, and she went up to him and said, "Jesus, if you would have been here sooner, my brother wouldn't have died". She was saying, "Jesus, how could you do this to us? We're your friends. We hang out together. We have you over for dinner. The least you could do is show up when we have an emergency".
Martha could have turned and walked away, bitter, angry, complaining. That would be the end of the story. We wouldn't be talking about it today. But in that dark season, when it looked like it was too late, too far gone, Martha did something extremely significant. It's a key to seeing negative she said, "If you would have been here sooner, he wouldn't have died. But I know, even now whatever you ask God will do it for you".
Notice, those two simple words: "It looks impossible, but even now you can turn it around. He's been dead for 4 days, but even now, you can raise him back up. I don't see a way, but even now, you can make a way".
There will be times in life, like with Martha, you have to have even now faith. "God, the medical report doesn't look good. But I believe even now you can heal me". "My business is hanging by a thread, but even now, you can prosper me". "My marriage looks like it's over, but even now you can restore me". When it looks impossible the odds are against you, you don't see how it could work out, don't complain. Don't get bitter.
Dig your heals in "God, even now you can turn my child around". "I've had this addiction for years, but even now you can set me free". "Been believing to have a baby. The medical report says it's not going to happen. But God, I'm bold enough to believe, like Martha, that even now, in spite of how long it's been, in spite of what I've been told, in spite of what I feel, I know you have you control the universe. Nothing's too hard for you. I may not see a way, but I know you have a way".
When you have this even now faith, God will move heaven and earth to do what he promised, and whatever you think is too far gone, the dreams you've given up on, the promises you've let go of, God is saying, "I can still bring them to pass. I can still restore the relationship. I can still prosper you and put you into overflow. I can still give you the desires of your heart".
I know a young lady named Vanessa. She's a medical doctor that attends here, and years back, she started experiencing terrible pain in her joints. It got so bad, she could hardly stand it. She ended up having surgery on her knees, but unfortunately, it didn't help. It continued to get worse. She got to the place where she was so crippled, she had to walk with a cane.
When she would come to church, it would take her 45 minutes to walk from the parking lot to her seat in the auditorium. During the week, she would get up at 3 o'clock in the morning to start getting her joints loosened up so she could be at work at 8. This was a gene that had been in her family line that kept getting passed down. Her father had the same illness he died from complications of it at 43. Her grandmother was a paraplegic, had the same problem.
It looked like this was Vanessa's destiny. She could've thought, "Hey, too bad for me. It's in my DNA. Can't do anything about this". No, Vanessa was like Martha. Her attitude was, "Even though it looks impossible, even though medical science says there's nothing they can do, even though daddy had it and grandmother had it, this is a new day. God, I believe even now, in spite of what's been passed down, in spite of what the experts have told me, I know you made my body. You can correct what's wrong. You said you would restore health unto me and heal of my wounds".
It didn't happen overnight, but little by little, she kept getting better and better and better. Today, she's perfectly healthy and whole. She can walk without pain and without that cane. You don't have to learn to live with things that keep getting passed down. "Well, Joel, everybody in my family is depressed". Maybe so, but you can be the turning point. Why don't you rise up and say, "God, I believe even now you're freeing me from this depression"? When you do that, the Creator of the universe breathes in your direction. He dispatches angels. You'll feel a strength, a joy, a freedom that you didn't have before.
Addictions may have been passed down to you. You can't do anything about that part, but you can put an end to it. "God, I believe even right now you are freeing me from these addictions". "Well, Joel, my family, we're poor, defeated. We never get any good breaks. I come from the wrong side of the tracks". No, there's no such thing as the wrong side of the tracks. The most high God breathed his life into you. He's crowned you with his favor. He put seeds of greatness on the inside.
Don't accept lack and defeat as your destiny. It may have been that way in the past, but God raised you up to put an end to it. Your attitude should be, "God, I want to thank you that even now you're prospering me. Even now you're opening up new doors, bringing opportunity, divine connections, increase across my path".
He's an even now God, but you have to have this even now faith. Here's why, God meets us at the level of our expectations. If you don't expect to get well, then you won't get well. If you don't expect to you don't expect to overcome the addiction, to be free from that depression, then you'll get stuck where you are. Why don't you take the limits off of God?
Dare to say, like Martha, "God, I don't see how this can happen in the natural. My brother's been dead for 4 days. He's already in the tomb". In other words, "The medical report says I won't get well. Business is slow. My marriage is on the rock. But God, I believe even now, in spite of how bad it looks, in spite of the setbacks I've suffered, I know your power is greater than any power that's trying to stop me. You said what's meant for my harm you would use to my advantage. So, Lord, I want to thank you that I'm not only coming out, yet I'm coming out better".
"I still believe, even though the medical report is not good". "I still believe that my children will be mighty in the land". "I still believe that I'll live debt-free, pay off my house, and be a blessing to others". "I still believe that I'll accomplish my dreams, build that orphanage, start my business, step into the fullness of my destiny".
When he and the israelites came to a dead end at the Red Sea, they had nowhere to go. Pharaoh and his army was quickly closing in. It looked like they would easily be captured and returned as slaves. But Moses didn't panic. He didn't complain. He understood this principle. He said, "God, it looks impossible, but I know even now you can deliver us". He held up the rod. The Red Sea parted. They went through on dry ground.
How about Abraham? God gave him the promise that he would have a baby. He and his wife, Sarah, were way too old, almost 80. This would defy the laws of nature. I can hear Abraham every morning, "God, all the odds are against us. It's not possible in the natural. But God, I believe even now you can give us this baby. In spite of how old we are, in spite of what our natural reasoning is telling us, you can make a way. And one day, when they were almost 100 years old, they had that baby.
The promise came to pass. My sister Lisa was born with something the doctors told my parents that she would most likely never be able to walk or to talk, but she would need constant 24-hour care, and of course, my parents were devastated. They never dreamed they'd be dealing with an unhealthy baby. But they didn't get bitter. They didn't start complaining. They did what I'm asking you to do. They said, "God, this doesn't look possible in the natural. Will be disabled. But God, we know you can do what medicine cannot do. God, even now we believe you can heal our daughter".
And again, like Vanessa, it didn't happen instantly, but Lisa kept getting better and better, and today, she's as healthy as can be, one of the ministers here on staff. Seventy-seven years old, still going strong, so. But you know, I think about how different life would be if my parents would have just accepted it and thought, "Hey, too bad. This is our lot in life".
No, if you want to step into the fullness of your destiny, if you're going to overcome these challenges and see the greatness of God's favor, you've got to have this even now faith. When it looks impossible, "God, I know you can do the impossible". When you don't see a way, "God, I know you still have a way". When your natural reasoning is telling you, "It's never going to work out". "God, I know you're a supernatural God".
It's significant that Jesus waited 4 days to go pray for Lazarus. He knew he was sick. In fact, Jesus knew he was going to die. He could have gone on the first day, healed Lazarus, and saved them all of that trouble, or at least he could have arrived on the second or third day, and they wouldn't have had to but there's always a reason for a delay. We may not understand it. Sometimes it's just a test of our faith.
Are we going to get discouraged and give up? If Martha would have gotten bitter, complained, angry, she could have stopped them miracle, and this is where many people miss God's best. While you're waiting for the problem to turn around, waiting for your health to improve, waiting for a child to get on the right course, that's a very critical time. Can you pass the test of staying in faith when you don't see anything happening? Can you keep a good attitude when God is silent? You're calling out to him. Like Martha, you sent word, you're praying, but he's not coming.
For some reason, he's delayed. He's not answering. The situation is not improving. This is when many people get discouraged and think, "Well, too bad, it wasn't meant to be". "Joel, I believed 5 years ago that I could get out of debt, but, man, not now. I'm way over my head". Or "I used to believe that I'd get healthy again, that I'd meet the right person, that I'd accomplish my dream, but it's been too long. I've had too many setbacks".
No, how you wait will determine whether or not when Jesus arrived at mary and Martha's house, he said to them, "Take me to the place where you've buried Lazarus. Take me to the tomb". He was saying, in effect, "take me to the place where you quit believing. Take me to the place where you gave up on your dreams, and you decided that you wouldn't get well, that you wouldn't meet the right person".
If you don't go back to that place and stir up your faith, and get your passion back, it will tie the hands of almighty God. You've got to go back to that place where you quit believing and ask yourself, "Is my God bigger than this problem? Is my God greater than this addiction? Is my God more powerful than this sickness? Is he still Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord my provider? Is he still Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord my healer" is he still El Shaddai, the God who is more than enough"?
When you remind yourself who your God is, the all-powerful Creator of the universe, something comes alive on the inside. One angel in the old testament destroyed 180,000 of the enemies of God. He's all powerful. He can turn any situation around. He's got you in the palm of his hand. He knows how to get when Jesus said, "Take me to the tomb, roll away the stone," I can imagine Martha said, "No, Jesus, I don't want to go there. It stinks, he's been dead for 4 days".
Maybe something you went through a divorce, a bankruptcy, a friend betrayed you, and now like with Lazarus, it stinks. It's a mess. But unless you're willing to deal with your stinky stuff, you probably won't get your miracle. We make excuses. "Joel, they hurt me". "He walked out of a relationship. It wasn't my fault. That's why I'm angry and bitter". No, you've got to do your part and let go of the bitterness. You've got to forgive the people that have done you wrong, deal with the stinky stuff. Or maybe, "My business didn't make it. I went through bankruptcy, I tried, but, man, I'm a failure". No, failure is an event. It's not who you are. Don't put that label on you. You are a child if one dream dies, you have to dream another dream.
A young man I met a few years ago had taken the state bar for his law degree for the second time and failed. It had been over a year, and he was working as a legal assistant, and you could tell he wasn't fulfilled. I asked him when he was going to take the state bar again. He kind of laughed, and he said, "Oh, man, Joel, I've already failed it twice. That just wasn't meant to be," and I told him what I'm telling you. If God is going to resurrect that dream, if you're going to step into the fullness of your destiny, you've got to roll away the stone.
Those two failures may stink. It may not be pretty, but that is not the end of your story. God didn't put the dream in you to lie dormant. He didn't give you the promise to just kind of tease you and take you halfway there, and you may have had some setbacks, may not have happened on your timetable. The heavens may have been silent when you prayed. But don't take that as a sign that God is not there. He's closely watching you. This is a test. What are you going to do, settle where you are, get discouraged, bitter, "It wasn't meant to be"? No, you've got to do your part. Roll away the stone. And get your passion back. "God, I failed this test two times. All the odds are against me, but I know even now you could help me to pass. Even now you're changing things in my favor".
Now, 3 or 4 month ago, I saw that young man out in the lobby. Had a big smile on his face. Put his hand up for a high five, said, "Joel, I did it. The third time was a charm. I passed that test," friends, God knows how to resurrect dead dreams. Don't talk yourself out of it. We make excuses. "Jesus, he's been dead for 4 days. They've already wrapped him up like a mummy". Or "I've taken the test twice and failed. No use taking it again". Or like Vanessa, "It's in my DNA. I'll never get well".
No, get rid of the excuses. We serve a supernatural God, and it may be taking a long time. The odds are against you. But keep passing the test. Keep doing the right thing. If you will do what you can, God will show up and do what you can't.