Joel Osteen — Further, Faster
I want to talk to you today about going further faster. We're living in a day where God is speeding things up. What should have taken you a lifetime to accomplish, because you honor God, he's going to do it in a fraction of the time.
In your career, maybe it should take you 20 years to work your way up to that position, 20 years to build your business up. No, things have shifted. God is going to give you breaks that you didn't deserve. He's going to bring the right people across your path. You're going to see opportunity like you've never seen before. It's going to take you further faster.
Get those two words down in your spirit. It may look like, in the natural, it's going to take you years to get out of debt, years to get well, years to overcome that problem. No, you need to get ready. You've come into this shift.
Think of it like a car. When you shift from second gear up to fourth gear, the engine is still running at the same speed. It's not working any harder, but you're going faster. You're covering more ground. The higher gears have greater capacity. They're designed to go faster.
In the same way, because you've kept God first place, he's shifting you to a higher gear. You're going to go further faster not because you're working harder trying to make it all happen. No, you're putting the same effort, being your best every day, but, all of a sudden, you get a good break that thrusts you years down the road. You get a promotion that you weren't qualified for.
You're going to look up and think, "How did I get here? It should have taken me another 20 years, but here I am. Medical report said it'd take me 5 years to recover, but I did it in 6 months. Should have taken me most of my career to get into management, but here I am at the age of 30". What is that? God taking you further faster. Part of the shift is acceleration. It's not going to take as long to accomplish your goals as you think. Not going to take as long to get out of that problem as it looks.
Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, is breathing in your direction. He's going to cause things to fall into place. The right people are going to be drawn to you. Good breaks, opportunities, healing, restoration, favor, it's not going to be business as usual. You've come into a shift. It's going to be business as unusual.
In December of 2003, we signed a 60-year lease with the city of Houston for this facility. We always wanted to own it, but the lease was the best thing to make it happen at the time, and deep down, I knew sometime during that 60-year period, God would give us the ability to purchase it. 2003, I was 40 years old. I would be 100 years old at the end of the lease. I said, "God, I want to purchase this building in my lifetime. I don't want to leave it up in the air for the next generation".
3 years ago, 7 years into our 60-year lease, the city was running low on funds. The tax revenues were not what they projected. They decided to sell off some of their excess properties to make up for the shortfall in the budget. The mayor's office called and asked if we would be interested in purchasing the facility, buying out the lease. A building like this, to build today, would cost $500 million, and, of course, we were interested, but we had to see what the sell price was going to be.
The city did an appraisal. They had to take into account whoever bought the property, they would still have to honor our 60-year lease. The appraisal came back not at $100 million, not at $50 million, but at $7 1/2 million. Today, we own this beautiful facility free and clear, no lease involved.
Here is my point. What could have taken 60 years, God did 53 years sooner. He took us further faster. Now, you may think it's going to take you 30 years to get out of debt, 30 years to pay your house off, you've already run the numbers, calculated it all. By the time you're 107 years old, you're going to be debt-free. Yeah, you're going to be in heaven debt-free. No, you don't know what God is up to. You don't know what God has already destined to come across your path. One phone call like we received, one contract, one good break, one inheritance and you're totally debt-free. You're into overflow.
Now, you need to get ready. God is saying, "It's going to happen sooner than you think. I am shifting things in your favor. You're going to come into acceleration". What should have taken you a lifetime to accomplish, he's going to do in a split-second of time. Now, don't talk yourself out of it, "Well, I don't know, Joel, I don't have the seniority. I got all these college loans, this debt. I've gone as far as I can".
No, be a believer and not a doubter. You may not see a way, and our attitude should be, "God, I'm in agreement with you. I believe you have shifted things in my favor. You are taking me further faster. I will accomplish my dream sooner than I think. I will overcome these problems quicker than I thought". When you do that, almighty God will open doors that no man can shut. He'll connect you to the right people. His favor will thrust you years down the road.
Back in 1949, there was a young minister named Billy Graham traveling the country holding meetings in large auditoriums. He was having success, but he wasn't really nationally known. That summer, he conducted a meeting a gentleman showed up by the name of William Randolph Hearst. Mr. Hearst owned newspapers all across the country. He was so touched that night, he sent a message to all of his publishers to write favorable articles the next week, the whole country was talking about this young minister. He came to national prominence, Billy Graham, practically overnight because of this one man.
What was that? A divine shift, God taking him further faster. Could have taken him his whole lifetime to gain that kind of respect and credibility, but God used one man to show him favor and open doors that took now, the good news is God has already lined up the right people for you. They are already in your future. Before they show up. They will open doors that you could not open. They will show you favor even though you didn't ask. They will use their influence to make you look good. They're ordained by God to accelerate and what's interesting is Billy Graham didn't search him out. He searched Billy Graham out. You don't have to go try to find the right people. You just honor God and the right people will find you. They'll pick you out of a crowd. They'll knock on your door. They'll show up at your office. For some reason, they will want to be good to you. That's a divine connection.
God will cause them to use their expertise, even their funds to take you further faster. Here is what will happen. You'll accomplish more in less time. You'll be promoted beyond your education. You'll increase beyond your experience. The right people will help you go where you could not go on your own.
We have some good friends named Jerry and Jana Lackey. They attended Lakewood for many years and then they moved to Botswana, Africa, to do missions work. They live out in the middle of nowhere taking care of the orphans and feeding the poor and teaching people, doing amazing work. One time, they didn't have electricity, any of the modern conveniences that we have. But they've stayed faithful year after year and they've seen God's blessings. They've built orphanages and clinics and schools and God's favor has been on their life.
But their big dream was to build a major youth center; 70% of the population in Botswana is under this youth center would be a place where the young people could come and grow and learn and make friends, but it was going to cost $5 million. That's a lot even here, but over there where the annual income is less than $1,000, that was unheard of, and Jerry and Jana, they've raised funds over the years but nothing even close to this magnitude.
But one day, a German businessman was visiting Botswana with his wife, they fell in love with the country. Got back home to the states, they want to do something to help. They googled the phrase "Botswana orphanages" and the Lackey's organization came up. It's called "Love Botswana outreach". He sent them a donation for $20,000. He said, "I want to do more". A few weeks went by, he sent them the Lackeys were just so thrilled. He said, "I want to come see you".
That man and his wife showed up in Botswana and they stayed at this very exclusive safari resort right there about 15 miles from the Lackey's missions complex. Jerry went to pick him up one morning and the man that owned the resort said to Jerry, "Hey, the resort's for sale. Would you like to buy it"? He thought Jerry was a wealthy businessman and Jerry kind of laughed, said, "Man, I'm a missionary living down the road. I don't have that kind of money, but thank you".
Well, this German businessman overheard the conversation. He asked Jerry to find out more about it. Jerry thought he wanted to buy it for himself, but that German man bought this big, exclusive, beautiful resort and gave it to Jerry and Jana for their outreaches. They were overwhelmed. The German man came to see their missions complex and he noticed the plans they had drawn for this big youth center. This was the greatest thing that Jana and Jerry had ever dreamed to do, something that they prayed and believed that, somehow, they could accomplish in their lifetime.
The man asked them how much it was going to cost. They said, "$5 million". He said, "I'll write you a check," in just a few days, they're going to dedicate, totally debt-free, that brand-new youth facility. What was that? God taking they're young people in their 40s. Notice what I'm calling "Young" now? It looked like they'd be praying, believing, raising funds their whole life, but they came into this shift. God brought one man across their path, a divine connection.
Listen, you don't need everyone to help you. You just need one person God-ordained and you will accomplish in a split-second what could have taken you your whole lifetime. "Well, Joel, I don't know if this will happen for me. I never get any good breaks". It's not going to happen with that attitude. You cannot think thoughts of defeat and lack all day and expect to have abundance. You can't talk mediocrity and expect to have victory. You are prophesying your future, and if you want to see this shift occur in your own life, you've got to get in agreement and say, "Yes, God, this is for me. I believe you've lined up the right people. I know they're already in my future. I just want to thank you that I'll accomplish my dreams sooner than I think".
In the natural, it may not look like it, but remember we he's about to release floods of his favor, floods of healing, floods of good breaks. Don't think of all the reasons this is not going to work. God wouldn't have given you the dream unless he already had a way to bring it to pass, and if you will stay in faith, like the Lackeys, it will not only happen sooner than you think, it will be bigger than you imagine. That's the way our God is. He likes to do exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond.
I read about a certain kind of plant. It's called the "Chinese Bamboo". For the first 4 years, it barely grows above ground. You hardly see anything happening. Even though you water it, fertilize it, make sure it's getting sunlight, it looks like you're wasting your time. But what you can't see is, under the ground, it's developing a massive root system. The roots are spreading out in every possible direction. In the 5th year, once the roots are properly established, the plant will take off and shoot up to as high as 80 feet in the air, from 0 to 80 feet all in one year.
Many of you, like Jerry and Jana, you've been faithful. You've given. You've served. You've helped others. You've sown a lot of seeds, but you haven't seen a lot of progress. Yes, God's been good to you, you're grateful, but nothing really out of the ordinary. That was the equivalent of your 4 years of developing roots. You were proving to God that you would be faithful. You were proving you would do the right thing when it was hard.
Now, you need to get ready. God is saying, "You're coming into your 5th year. You're going to see explosive growth that will take you to beyond your training, beyond your experience". In this 5th year, good breaks will find you. The right people will search you out. Opportunity will come the 5th year is harvest time. It's favor time. You're going to reap from all the seeds that you've sown down through the years. Nothing you've ever given has gone unnoticed. Every sacrifice you've made, every time you stopped to help someone, God sees that, and the scripture talks about how God will reward us in this life, not just the sweet by-and-by.
Because you've been faithful, there is a harvest stored up, and like the Lackeys, God is about to release everything that belongs to you. It's going to happen sooner than you think. It's going to be bigger than you imagine. God is going to bring out gifts and talents you didn't even know you had. He's going to open up new doors of opportunity. This 5th year is when God is going to shoot you up higher than you ever even dreamed out.
A lady in the scripture named Ruth experienced this 5th year. She was living in a foreign country taking care of her mother-in-law, Naomi. They were both widows and they were very poor. They didn't have any income, and Ruth would go out into the fields early every morning and gather up the leftover wheat that the workers had missed. That's how they were living, day after day, month after month.
Ruth was very faithful. She could have gone back to her hometown and done her own thing, but she didn't want to leave Naomi, her mother-in-law, an older woman, by herself. She sowed these seeds of kindness and generosity. It looked like this was her lot in life, to struggle, to barely get by, to live off of the leftovers. But one day, a man named Boaz, he owned all those fields, the wealthiest man in the area, he noticed Ruth and he told his workers to leave handfuls of wheat on purpose for Ruth to make it easier on her. She didn't have to work so hard. She kept being her best, kept honoring God, and she came into her 5th year. Boaz, he ended up falling in love with Ruth and they got married.
Now, instead of working in the field, Ruth owned the field. She didn't have to pick up leftovers ever again. God took her further faster, and what I love about this story is it Ruth was satisfied living off of leftovers. She was content. Her needs was being supplied. But God wasn't satisfied. That was fine for a season, a time of testing and proving for Ruth, but God did not want that to be permanent. God didn't want Ruth to spend her life gathering up leftovers, working in the field. God wanted her to own that field.
Friends, God's dream for your life is much bigger than your own. Don't get satisfied just have your needs supplied. Yes, be grateful, but God has so much more in store. He wants you to come into overflow, into abundance, to where you can be a greater blessing wherever you go. You may be working for that company, but God knows how to shift things to where you own your own company. God does not want you to spend your life cleaning that office. God wants you to be running that office. You may be teaching at that school, and that's great, but don't be surprised if you end up running that school. You may be working behind the scenes, like I was for 17 years, but then you come into your 5th year and you see explosive growth and God takes you places that you've never even dreamed.
What am I saying? Make room for God to do something big in this new year. Go out every day with this expectancy, "God is working in my life right now. Lord, I just want to thank you for explosive blessings, for divine connections, for unprecedented favor".
That's what a man in the scripture did by the name of Nehemiah. He had a dream to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. In the natural, it was impossible. He was living 1,000 miles away working as a cup bearer for the king. He didn't have the money, on paper, he didn't have a chance. But Nehemiah knew that God's favor was on him, and he asked this king for permission to take a leave of absence to go and rebuild that wall.
Notice his boldness. He wasn't a high-level cabinet member. He wasn't a senior advisor in the administration. He was working in the kitchen cooking food, cleaning the tables. He could have thought, "Who am I? I could never do something big. I don't have the influence. I don't have the money. I don't know the right people". No, Nehemiah 2, verse 8 shows us his attitude. He said, "The king granted me this request because the gracious hand of God was upon me". He was saying, "It may not but I have a secret weapon, something that you cannot see. The favor of God is on my life".
Nehemiah went out and started rebuilding the wall. He had all kinds of opposition. City leaders wouldn't give him a permit. Critics tried to stop him. Bandits came up and he had to fight them off. One thing after another, he just kept being his best, doing what God called him to do, and that should have taken him years and years, but Nehemiah rebuilt that wall in just 52 days. What was that? God taking him further faster. God had it all lined up. God gave him favor with the king. God arranged the right people, the resources, the protection. Should have taken years. That wall had been down for a long time. Should have taken him his whole lifetime, but with God's help, he did it it in 52 days.
Now, your dream may seem too big, you think, "Oh, man, Joel, I've waited too long. I've missed too many opportunities. I don't have the resources, the connections". No, just like with Nehemiah, God has it all figured out, and because you've honored him, God is saying, "I'm bringing you into your 5th year. I'm going to connect you to the right people. I'm going to give you breaks that you didn't deserve. I'm going to open doors that you weren't qualified for. I'm going to give you wisdom beyond your years".
God is going to accelerate his plan for your life. You could be going along normal pace, been that way for years and years, but, now, you've hit this shift. Get ready for acceleration. Get ready for new doors to open. Get ready for the right people to show up at your doorstep. Have this attitude of expectancy, further faster.