Joel Osteen — Favor In The Storm
I want to talk to you today about favor in the storm. When we think of favor, we think of something good happening. We received a promotion. We met someone special. The medical report turned around.
We know that's the favor of God, but when we face difficulties, things aren't going our way, we're still taking the medical treatment, our finances haven't turned around, the promotion didn't go through, doesn't seem like we have favor.
We have all these obstacles, but having favor doesn't mean you won't have challenges. Favor is what's keeping those challenges from defeating you, and when you're in a difficult time, you may not see it, but favor is what's pushing back forces of darkness. Favor is what's keeping that sickness from taking your life. Favor is what protected you in that accident.
If you didn't have favor, you wouldn't still be here. The enemy would've taken you out. You may not recognize it, but you have favor in the storm, favor taking the treatment, favor dealing with an the scripture says God's favor surrounds you. It doesn't come and go. It's with you in the good times and in the tough times.
When the israelites were headed to the promised land, they came to the Red Sea. Pharaoh had just let them go, but he changed his mind, and he and his army came chasing them. The israelites were at a dead end. They had nowhere to go. Moses held up his staff and the waters parted. Those 2 million people begin to walk through on dry ground.
We look at it today and, in hindsight, it's easy to see they had favor. The waters parted, but imagine being there, having to walk between walls of water, not knowing if, at any moment, they were going to collapse, holding your children tightly, the enemy chasing you, closing in.
It was loud. People were panicking, all I don't think they walked through calm and collected. They were nervous, afraid, thinking of everything that "What have these walls of water don't hold up, and we all drown? What if we won't make it through in time? What if the pharaoh catches us"? There were a thousand things they could have worried about. It wasn't until they got to the other side, until they were back on land, that they began to rejoice. Then they knew they had favor. The truth is, they had favor the whole time. They just couldn't see it.
Favor is what was holding back the walls of water. Favor is what kept the enemy from catching them. When we're in the middle of a difficulty, sometimes, we don't recognize that we have favor. It's easy to focus on all the things that could happen. "What if I don't get well? What if I can't find another job? What if my child doesn't get back on course"? You could live worried, losing sleep, panicked. No, stay in peace. You have favor in the storm. God is pushing back forces of he's not allowing the sickness, the addiction, the trouble at work to keep you from your purpose.
There is a force working for you in the middle of the storm that is greater than any force that's trying to stop you. When you look around, you may see walls of water. You see opposition, trouble, sickness. It looks frightening, but keep the right perspective. It cannot defeat you. Like the israelites, the favor God put on your life is going to bring you safely through. The enemy doesn't have the final say. God does, and what he has purposed for your life will come to pass. No bad break can stop you, no sickness, no addiction, no person. God is in control.
Instead of being frustrated by the problem, worried about your health, upset over the bad break, turn it around. "Father, thank you that I have favor in the storm. Thank you that favor is keeping my enemies from me".
It's easy to believe we have favor when good things are happening. What I want us to see is we have favor when we're in between walls of water. We have favor when enemies are chasing us. The psalmist said, "God has anointed you. He is steadying you, making you strong, and your enemies will not get the best of you".
In the middle of that difficulty, you need to remind yourself who you are. You are anointed. You've been hand-picked by God. He's crowned you with favor. He said he always causes you to triumph. Right now, he's steadying you. He's making you stronger. If you could see behind the scenes, you would see him pushing back the opposition. You would see him making your crooked places straight, lining up the right people.
Instead of complaining about the storm, you need to let the enemy know, "You are not going to get the best of me. You are messing with the wrong person. You may knock me down, but when you come against me one way, God said he will defeat you and cause you to flee seven ways". You don't have to live worried, focused on the problems, wondering why it happened.
You know a secret. You have favor in the storm. You know God is fighting your battles. You know what was meant for harm, he's turning to your advantage, and here's the key. The enemy wouldn't be fighting you if you weren't a threat. He wouldn't be trying to stop you if you weren't on the verge of something amazing. He knows you're about to step into a new level. He knows you're about to take new ground for your family. You're about to come into your promised land. You're about to see something you've never seen.
He can sense God's about to exceed your expectations, so he's working overtime to try to get you worried, frustrated, overwhelmed by problems, not expecting anything good. No, get ready. Favor is about to turn things favor is about to catapult you to a new level. Favor is going to help you break that addiction. "Well, Joel, if I had favor, why did I have these problems in the first place"? Favor is not going to keep you from the storm, but favor will bring you out of the storm. God wouldn't have allowed it if he didn't have a purpose.
We don't understand everything that happens. Sometimes life is not fair, but you have to trust that God knows what he's doing. At the Red Sea, before it parted, the israelites could have thought, "God, you said we were going to the promised land. You brought us out of slavery. Why did you change your mind? Why are you going to let pharaoh and his men recapture us"?
It didn't make sense to them, but God's ways are not our ways. When that water parted, the israelites went through on dry ground. Pharaoh and his army, the waters closed back up when they came chasing them, and sometimes God will take you through a difficulty to get rid of what's chasing you. You'll make it through the storm, but what you didn't need, what was going to hinder you for years to come, the addiction, the dysfunction, the toxic relationship, it won't make it through.
If those enemies had not drowned, the israelites would've lived with the constant threat that, any moment, pharaoh and his men could show up and try to recapture them, and yes, it was nerve-wracking having to go through walls of water. I'm sure they didn't like it, but God had a purpose. You may not like the difficulty. It may not seem fair, but you're going to come out of that storm free from things that would have held you back your whole life. God told the israelites, "The enemies you see today, you will see no more". God is saying that to you. That addiction that's held you back for years is not permanent.
When you come through the storm, you will see it. No, that sickness, that trouble at work, the loneliness is not your destiny. Breakthroughs are coming. Freedom is coming. Healing is coming. Abundance is coming. What's trying to stop you is only temporary. Don't be discouraged by the storm. God has you in the palm of his hand. He didn't send you into the storm by yourself. He's right there with you. The enemy cannot take you out. God has a hedge of protection around you. He controls the walls of water. It may seem frightening, but he's pushing back the opposition.
Like the three hebrew teenagers that were thrown into the fiery furnace, he's the fourth man in the fire. You're not in there alone. Favor is in the fire with you. When those teenagers came out of the furnace unharmed, without the smell of smoke, all their enemies had a new perspective. They knew there was something special about them. They knew they were anointed. The king even said, "From now on, we're going to worship".
They didn't like going through the furnace, but God used that difficulty to get rid of what would have hindered them their whole life. God changed their enemy's mind and gave them a new respect, and what you're going through may not be all about you. It's about God getting rid of what's hindering you. He's putting you in position to reach the fullness of your destiny.
This is what happened with Isaac. In Genesis 26, there was a great famine in the land. Isaac was going to move away to a different country, try to get out of the famine, find someplace where he could plant his crops, have good soil and plenty of water, but God told him to stay where he was, to not leave that place, and God would bless him and his descendants. God was saying, "Isaac, you don't have to go somewhere to try to find favor. I'm going to bless you. I'm going to prosper you in spite of what the conditions look like".
Logically speaking, it didn't make sense. The ground was hard and dry, not enough water to irrigate his crops. Isaac could have talked himself out of it, but he understood this principle, that he had favor in the famine. He went out in the middle of the drought and planted his whole field. I can hear his neighbors, the philistines, saying, "What is this guy thinking? He is wasting his time. Doesn't he know nothing can grow in a famine"?
Verse 12 says, "That year, Isaac's crops were tremendous. He harvested 100 times more than he planted, for the lord blessed him, and he became very wealthy". Notice, he didn't have to leave, try to get out of the famine, go somewhere to be blessed. God can increase you in spite of what's going on around you. Don't complain because you don't have the job you want. "Joel, if my supervisor would give me credit, if I could move out of this neighborhood, if business wasn't so slow".
There is favor on your life right now to cause you to prosper, but as long as you think you have too many disadvantages, you're waiting to get out of the famine, then you'll start believing. Then you'll start being your best. That will limit you. Do like Isaac. "Father, thank you that I have favor in the famine. Thank you that you're opening doors no man can shut, causing me to stand out, bringing opportunity. Thank you that whatever I touch will prosper and succeed". Your job is not your source. God is your source. He can bless you in unusual he's not limited by your salary, by your training, by your experience. He has ways to increase you that you've never thought of. He can cause people to be good to you. He can bring opportunity. He can give you ideas and creativity.
A man told me recently how he received an inheritance from a family member he had never met. He didn't even know they were related. They didn't have the same last names. At first, he thought it was a mistake, but that one good break put him into overflow. He didn't see it coming. God has some unexpected blessings, things you don't see coming. "Well, Joel, I don't know any relatives like that". Neither did he, but they found him.
The scripture talks about how, when you honor God, when you keep him first place, his blessings will chase you down. You don't have to go after them. They will come after you, but too often, we're focused on "I can't expect anything good. I'm in a famine". God is not limited by the conditions, by the economy, by your job, by your family, by your training. He owns it all.
Like with Isaac, one touch of his favor will take you and your family to a new level. The scripture says Isaac's wealth continued to increase. He acquired large flocks of sheep and goats and great herds of cattle and had many employees. This all started from him believing that he had favor in the famine. He could have focused on the conditions, lived with a limited mind-set. "I can't plant here. I can't expect anything good. I'm in a drought". Instead, he dared to believe.
Are you letting the conditions talk you out of what God put in your heart, thinking, one day, when you get favor, when you're out of the famine, when the company promotes you, when you get the training? Favor is what gives you the advantage. Favor is what's going to catapult you to a new level. Favor is going to make things happen that you didn't see before.
A few years ago, my sister, Lisa, and her husband, Kevin, were going to sell their house. Typical houses in their neighborhood were taking anywhere from six months to two years to sell, and they couldn't purchase their new house until they sold the old one. They could have thought, "Too bad. It's going to be a long wait. We picked the wrong time to sell". Instead, like Isaac, they believed they had favor in the famine, and they prayed, asked God that their house would not only sell quickly, but that they would get close to their asking price.
The first day it was on the market, a lady came in and said, "I'll buy it, and if you'll take it off the market, I'll pay you more than you're asking for it". God is not limited by the conditions. Why don't you take the limits off of him? Quit thinking of all the reasons why you can't be blessed, can't accomplish your dreams, why you won't get well, not meet the right person. You may not see a way, but God has a way.
When you believe, all things Isaac was so blessed, the scripture says the philistines became jealous of him. The same people that were making fun of him for planting in the famine, the same ones that were telling him he was wasting his time, now they were upset that he was being blessed. It's funny how people that won't do what you're willing to do will become jealous when you're blessed, and they're not.
You dared to take the step of faith. You dared to pray, to stretch, to plant, to believe. Now, you're seeing increase in favor. Don't be surprised when the philistines show up. The naysayers are not happy when they see you rising higher. They'll find fault, criticize, try to bait you into conflict. Just run your race. It's not about you. It's about the favor on your life. Don't let the chatter distract you, the negative comments, the jealousy, the envy. You don't have to answer to people. You don't have to prove yourself. Stay focused on your goals, and God will take care of the philistines.
A man named Zerubbabel was rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. It had been destroyed years earlier, and the king had issued a decree to have it rebuilt. Everything was going great. He laid the foundation, built the altar. Then the opposition came, people that didn't want it rebuilt. They started bribing the workers, paying people to cause trouble, stirring up all kinds of turmoil. Zerubbabel could have thought, "God, I'm doing what you asked me to do, but I have all this opposition. These powerful people are coming against me".
It didn't look like he had favor. It looked like his enemies were getting the best of him, but you can't see what God is doing behind the scenes. It may look like it's going to stop you, but if you'll stay in faith, God will use it to promote you, and the people opposing sent a letter to their king, lying about Zerubbabel, saying, "These people that are rebuilding they're going to try to overthrow you. They're not going to pay taxes. It's going to be a big mistake".
The king asked Zerubbabel who gave him permission to rebuild it. He told the king, "We are servants of the most high God, and there was a temple here built by an Israeli king years earlier, and he issued a decree to have it rebuilt". The king had his men search the royal archives, and they found the decree. He called the opposition in and said, "Do not hinder these people. Let them rebuild the temple. Not only that, I decree that you are to help them. You are to use my funds to pay the full construction cost, and you are to take them food and supplies every day".
They meant it for harm. God turned it for good. You may have people and circumstances coming against you. God knows how to cause it to they were trying to stop him. They ended up having to help without their opposition, he wouldn't have had the temple totally paid for. Not only that, they had to bring them food every day. God said he'll prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies. Sometimes he'll even have your enemies serve you dinner. I can hear Zerubbabel saying, "Can I get some ketchup with my french fries"?
God knows how to vindicate you. Those people that are trying to hold you down, stir up trouble, stay in peace. It's going to backfire. The psalmist said, "The trap the enemy set for you, they will fall in themselves". God is working in ways that you cannot see. It may look like opposition. The truth is, it's the hand of God setting you up for promotion.