Joel Osteen — Right On Time
I want to talk to you today about Right on time. We all have things we're dream to come to pass, waiting for our health to improve, waiting to meet the right person. We know God put the promise in our heart, but we wonder why it's taking so long. But the scripture talks about how there is an appointed time for the promise to be fulfilled.
If there's a right time, that means any other time is the wrong time, and if you don't understand that God will always be right on time, then the delays, the detours, the waiting periods will cause you to be frustrated, and it's not enough to just trust God, you have to trust his timing. He knows when you're ready. He knows when it's the right person, when to open the door, when to turn it around, and if it's not happening yet, you have to be mature enough to accept that it's not the right time.
Instead of living upset, why don't you do like David and say, "God, my times are in your hands. You know when to bless me, when to promote me, when to deliver me. Hebrews says, "Through faith and patience we inherit the promises". It's easy to have faith, it's easy to believe for your dreams, but faith without patience can get you into trouble.
Just ask Moses. As a young man, he knew he was supposed to deliver the Israelites. He had the promise, but he didn't have the patience. He got in a hurry and killed a man that was mistreating a Hebrew slave. His heart was right, but his timing was off. He had to flee for his life. He spent 40 years in the desert all because he got out of God's timing.
Psalm 106 says, "They did not wait for God's plan to unfold," and what you're believing for may be taking you're not making progress, not seeing a dream come to pass, but God knows what he's doing. Don't try to force things to happen. You don't have to promote yourself, manipulate people, convince them to like you. Yes, we should be determined, but you don't have to beat down a door. At the right time, things will fall into place. At the right time, the right people will show up.
Now, do your part and wait for the promise to unfold. You're not falling behind, you're not being left out, you're right on schedule. God is working behind the scenes. You may not be able to see it, but he's lining up the right people, he's arranging the right breaks, he's ordering your steps. Be patient and you'll see his plan unfold.
Matthew 11 in the message translation, it talks about the unforced rhythms of grace. Unforced means you don't have to struggle, fight against everything, make it happen. You can relax and live at rest knowing that God is it may not be happening on your timetable, but God knows when the right time is, and if you don't understand this, you'll wonder, "Why isn't it happening faster? Why am I not making more progress? What's wrong"? Nothing is wrong, it's just not the right time.
Why don't you come into the unforced rhythms of grace? Quit worrying, quit being frustrated, your times are in his hands. God that created the universe for your life. The scripture says, "When you delight yourself in the Lord, he will give you the desires of your heart". Doesn't say you have to work for it, you have to earn it, make it happen. God is going to give it to you. It's going to happen without the struggle, without the frustration, without all the experience. It's going to be easier than you think. You'll know it was the hand of God because you didn't have to force the door to open, you didn't have to manipulate people. God made things happen that you couldn't make happen.
Now, I know you trust God, but I'm asking you to trust his timing. Quit being frustrated because it's not happening as fast as you would like. Every season is not a growing season. Every season is not harvest. There are seasons of planting, seasons of watering, fertilizing, pulling up the weeds. Those are important seasons. They are times of testing, where we're showing God what we're made of. Are we going to keep a good attitude when we're not seeing growth, not making progress? Are we going to have faith and patience?
Psalm 1 tells us to meditate on God's word day and night. That means we're not worried, we're not upset, wondering why it's taking so long. We're at peace. We know God's in control. When you do this, it says, "You will be like a tree planted by the waters that brings forth fruit in its season". It doesn't say it will bring forth fruit 365 days a year. It says in its season. It implies there will be waiting periods, periods of no growth, periods where we we have some lemon trees in our backyard at home. They don't produce lemons all year long. They have a season where they're full of lemons, all kinds of growth. But at certain times of year, when there's no growth, no blossoms, if those lemon trees could talk, they wouldn't be worried, thinking, "What's wrong? We don't have any lemons. We've lost our touch. God has forgotten about us". They would be as calm and peaceful as can be, why? They know there's nothing wrong, they're just not in season.
Maybe you're not seeing any growth, you feel stuck, but like those lemon trees, there's nothing wrong, it's just timing. You're in a waiting period or perhaps a development period, but when you come into your season, you're going to bear much fruit. Now, the question is, when you're not in the growing season, a harvest season, are you going to get discouraged and think it'll never change? Are you going to lose your passion and give up on what God promised you? If you'll keep meditating on God's word, keep your mind filled with thoughts of faith and hope, then without even trying, you're going to come in to your season.
Those lemon trees don't have to work to produce lemons. They don't have to struggle and put forth all this effort. When they're in season, it happens automatically. It's just who they are.
When you come into your season, you're not going to struggle, you're not going to make things happen. You're going to naturally bear fruit. That means God's going to cause the right people to find you. Gifts and talents are going to come out that you didn't know you had. Good breaks are going to chase you down. You may have been waiting for a long time. You're tempted to get discouraged, but get ready, your season is coming. You're about to see new growth, unexpected favor, blessings that catapult you to the next level. You couldn't have made it happen on your own, but because you were faithful in you did the right thing when it was slow, God's going to bring you into harvest season, into a season of abundance.
But the truth is none of us like to go through the waiting periods. It's easy to get frustrated and say, "God, if I'm going to come into my season in 6 months or my season in 2 years, why don't you just do it now? Save me the frustration. Bring the right person now, give me the promotion now". If he promoted you before you were ready, it wouldn't be a blessing, it would be a burden. You wouldn't be able to handle it. He has to get you prepared for what he has in store. He loves you too much to do it too soon, and you may have a promise in your heart. You know God's given it to you, but you don't see anything happening.
That's a season of waiting. God's using that to do a work in you. You will have faith and patience, then you're growing, your spiritual muscles are getting stronger, your character is being developed. "Well, Joel, my friends, they're all being promoted, but not me. I don't understand it. I come to church every Sunday, they only come on Easter". No, don't compare your situation to somebody else's, you're not running their race. God may be going to take you to a higher level. It's going to require more more discipline. Keep doing the right thing, your season is coming.
When our son Jonathan was 10 years old, I didn't give him the car keys, say, "Jonathan, go take a drive. I want you to have everything I have stored up for you". I didn't let him have the car, not because I wanted to keep something good from him, push him down, make his life miserable. I didn't do it because I loved him. I knew him having a car at 10 wouldn't be a blessing, it would be a curse, and sometimes, God shows his love for us not by what he gives us, but by what he withholds. If God would've let you marry that first person you really wanted to marry, you probably wouldn't be here today, at least in your right mind. If he would've let you have that baby, that promotion, that new house before you were ready, it would've limited your future.
God knows what we can handle, so sometimes, in order to protect us, he says, "Not now". Don't fight it, trust his timing. No doesn't mean never, it means it's not the right time. Jonathan has a car now, he just had to grow up. It's all a part of the process. A good father may have a good gift, but he won't give it at the wrong time, and God is not a good father, he's a great father. He has great gifts in store for you. He has more than you can ask or think.
What am I saying? Don't be frustrated if he's not giving it to you yet. Keep growing, keep being good to people, keep passing the test. God can see the big picture. He knows what you're going to need. You may think you're ready, but you can't see how high God is going to take you, how much influence and resources he's going to entrust you with. God not only knows what you need, he knows who you're going to need, and sometimes, God is saying, "Not now," because somebody else that's going to be involved is not ready. He's still working on them. They're going to be instrumental in your life. They're going to open a door, be a close friend. They're going to be a spouse. Waiting periods with a good attitude.
After college, I came back to Lakewood and started the television ministry. I loved doing production, editing, putting my father's messages on television. Plus, we would do big concerts and live television specials. My father was very supportive. He let us buy the best equipment, put on these exciting events, but toward the end of his life, he didn't want to do that anymore, and one time, I lined up all these radio stations to carry my father's broadcast. I told my dad, "If you'll less than an hour, we can make the openings and closes, and the radio program will go out all over the world".
I'll never forget what he said. He said, "Joel, I don't want to do that. I'm 75 years old. I'm not looking for any more work. I just want to relax and pastor the church". I was so disappointed. I thought, "God, I'm young. You put big dreams in my heart. I don't want to do less, I want to do more". I didn't understand it, thought maybe it was time to move on, and I'd had an offer to go to work for another large ministry. But when I prayed about it, when I got quiet, I could hear the still small voice saying, "Joel, not yet. Be patient, you're in a waiting period, but your season is coming".
I told Victoria, "This is my father's vision. He's been here for nearly 40 years, and I'm not going to get sour because I'm not getting my way. I'm going to honor my father and do what he would like me to do". I made the decision to be my best in the waiting period, to do the right thing when I didn't feel like it. I never dreamed 2 years later my father would go to be with the Lord and I would become the pastor.
I realize now God put those dreams in my heart for my own ministry, it just wasn't the right time. Had I not passed the test and been faithful in the waiting periods, I don't believe I'd be standing here today.
God knows what he's doing. If he's asking you to wait, that means what he has in store is going to be bigger than what you've imagined. Is God saying to you, "Not now," in some area? You're praying for something to change, believing for a dream, a breakthrough, it's you're in a waiting period. Keep doing the right thing.
This is what Joseph did. He kept passing the test in the waiting periods, when it was unfair, when he was betrayed, when he was falsely accused. Had he not gone through those tests with the right attitude, developing his character, showing God what he was made of, he would've never taken the throne. You can have great faith, you can believe for big things, but without patience, you'll get stuck. Without going through the waiting periods with a good attitude, it will limit your destiny.
Joseph wasn't in a hurry. He knew he had to wait for God's plan to unfold. Now, along the way, it didn't always look like his steps were ordered, being thrown into a pit by his family, being put in prison for something that he didn't do. Could've said, "God, it's not fair, look at what they're doing to me". But you're not going to understand everything that happens. You may be in a difficult place, doesn't look like it's ever going to change. Stay encouraged, your steps are ordered. You're right on schedule.
The delay, the detour, the disappointment, it's all a part of God's plan, and if you'll be patient and wait for that plan to unfold, then like Joseph, you'll see God vindicate you, promote you, and take you to a new level of your destiny.
When God did something significant in the scripture, many times it says it happened suddenly, or immediately, or at once the prison doors were opened. They were in a waiting period. They didn't see anything happening, then all the sudden it happened. God was showing us he can turn things around without any warning. He can increase you unexpectedly, out of the ordinary. You didn't see it coming. You were just doing the right thing, going through the difficulty with faith and patience, and suddenly you came into your season. Suddenly, your business took off. Suddenly, your health improved.
One touch of God's favor can catapult you to the next level. When you know God has some suddenlies, even when it's taking a long time, you'll still have an expectancy, knowing that any moment your suddenly could show up. One good break, one phone call, meeting one right person, you'll come out of your waiting period into a season of blessing.
See, just as God orders steps into times of testing, times of proving, he orders steps into seasons of increase, seasons of promotion, and you may have been in a waiting period a long time, doing the right thing, being patient. God is saying, "Get ready, you're about to see some suddenlies". You're going to come into a season of much fruit, a season of new growth, where God thrusts you to the next level. He's going to put you at the right place at the right time. Steps, that doesn't mean God does it vaguely, go over here in this general area, do it in the next week or two. God is not vague, he's precise, he's detailed, he's specific down to the split second.
One Sunday, when my father was alive, I was up in the television control area at the other facility. The service was about to start, and I remembered I needed to tell my father something, so I ran downstairs, and the stairs were curved to where at one point, for 4 or 5 seconds when you were walking, you would look out over the front lobby, then they turned back toward the offices. As I was running down the stairs, as fast as I could in a big hurry, I came around that curve, and there was a man walking through the lobby right in position to where our eyes met.
He stopped me and said, "My cousin has a construction permit for a full-powered television station here in Houston. We'd like to talk to you about it". He handed me his number, 10-second conversation. Long story short, we bought that construction permit, put the station on the air. A few years later, we sold it for a significant profit, and those funds were very instrumental in us renovating this place, the former Compaq Center.
But notice how precise God is. If I had been running down the stairs 5 seconds later, I would've missed him. If he would've left his house a minute earlier, got caught by another stoplight, our paths wouldn't have crossed. The second. "You be at this place. You be at that place".
Suddenly, we came into our season. God made things happen we couldn't make happen. Right now, God is not only ordering your steps, he's ordering the steps of the people you need. He's going to cause them to come across your path where opportunity finds you, where good breaks track you down, and what you're believing for may be taking a long time.
You don't see how it's ever going to change, but stay encouraged, God has some suddenlies lined up for you, things you didn't see coming, where he had you at the right place at the right time, and unexpectedly you met the right person. Or like with me, the business fell into your lap, the problem turned around. Don't be frustrated because it's not happening as fast as you would like. You're right on schedule. Your steps are being ordered. Any moment, you're going to come in to your season.
In Mark chapter 5, a leader in the synagogue came up to Jesus. He fell at his feet and said, "My little girl is so sick. She's close to death. Please come to my house and pray for her," and Jesus agreed, he said he would come, and they started walking that way. I can imagine this father was so excited. He knew he was going to get his miracle.
The middle of a big crowd, this lady that had been sick for 12 years fought her way through the crowd, touched the edge of Jesus' robe, and instantly she was healed. Jesus stopped and asked who touched him, spent time visiting with this lady. While it was a great miracle, it delayed Jesus from getting to the little girl's house, and I'm sure the father was happy this lady got healed, but because of the delay, his little girl died. His friends came and said, "Hey, don't bother Jesus anymore. It's too late, your daughter has passed". He had to watch somebody else get healed while his daughter didn't get healed.
Will you keep a good attitude when you see other people being blessed, but you're still waiting? Your friend got engaged, but you're still single, waiting for the right person. Your co-worker moved into that new house, you're still in the apartment waiting for increase. In the middle of the this excitement, this man felt like Jesus had forgotten about him. It's too late, he turned to walk away.
Jesus stopped him and said, "Don't be afraid, only believe". Jesus was saying, in effect, "It's not too late. I haven't forgotten about you. You're right on schedule. Your steps are being ordered. This delay didn't stop my plan, I'm still going to do what I promised". Jesus showed up at the little girl's house where she had already died. He spoke to her and told her to wake up. She woke back up and was perfectly normal. The scripture says the people were completely astonished.
Here's the principle. This man came to Jesus asking for a healing, but because of the delay, he received a greater miracle, a resurrection. When it's taken longer than you thought, don't get discouraged, that means God has something bigger, something better, something that you weren't expecting. Like this man, he's going to do something where not only you, but the people around you are astonished, amazed, overwhelmed at his goodness.
Friends, God has not forgotten about you. He knows how long it's been. He's heard all your prayers. He's seen all the times you've done the right thing, and circumstances may tell you, "It's never going to happen. It's too late". God is saying, "You're right on schedule. You're about to come into your season. It's not going to be a healing, it's going to be something better, a resurrection". Now, do your part and pass the test in the waiting periods. Keep a good attitude, and if you'll do this, because you believe and declare you're going to see God's plan unfold for your life. Promises come to pass, dreams fulfilled, problems turned around, the fullness of your destiny in Jesus' name.