Joel Osteen — The Rain Is Coming
I want to talk to you today about the rain is coming. I was in Africa years ago and there was a severe drought. The ground was so dry that it was breaking apart. The vegetation had all dried up. The livestock couldn't survive. It was barren, empty, no life, all because there had been no rain. Every person goes through times of drought, dry seasons, when we don't see anything happening.
We've got big dreams. We're standing on God's promises. But we just don't see anything changing. It's dry and barren. You can be blessed in one area and in a drought in another. Have a successful career but you struggle in your marriage; a drought in a relationship. Or you can have a great marriage but you just don't feel well; a drought in your health.
I know a lady; she has everything going for her. She's beautiful, talented, successful but year after year she struggles with the same addiction. It's easy to think, "This is the way it's always going to be. I'll always be lonely. I'll always have to deal with this depression. I'll always struggle in my finances". No, I want to announce that in 2018 that drought is coming to an end. Any area of brokenness, dryness, loneliness, every empty place, if you will stay in faith, God is going to rain down favor, rain down healing, rain down restoration.
Psalm 68 says, "You sent an abundant rain, oh God". Why don't you get that in your spirit? You're about to see an abundant rain. Every drought is only temporary. That dry season is not going to last forever. Why? The rain is coming. That addiction is not going to be with you your whole life. Rain is coming. Struggle and lack is not your destiny. It's temporary. Rain is headed your way.
Some of you have been in a drought in your health. Chronic pain. You don't feel well. You could easily settle there. No, you need to get your umbrella. I see clouds starting to form. Maybe in your career you feel stuck. You can't seem to get a good break. You got passed over for the promotion. Don't get discouraged. God has something better for you. It's not going to be a drizzle, not a sprinkle, but a downpour; an abundance of rain.
When you get up in the morning you need to declare it. "Father, thank you that the drought is ending and the rain is coming. Thank you that in 2018 I will see an abundance of your goodness in my life".
I have a friend that lost his wife to cancer a while back. They had been married for over 30 years and been best friends since high school. Their sons had grown up and were successful. Just when they thought they would step into this new season, travel and enjoy each other's company, she came down with this sickness. For months and months he took care of her, treated her like a queen. She fought the good fight of faith. Ended up going to heaven.
It was very difficult on him. He's a strong man, has a deep faith, but it was harder than anything he imagined. He told me how at his house alone at night he felt so lost, so empty. He'd reach over in bed and she wasn't there anymore. He never dreamed life was going to turn out that way. He was in a drought. He could have gotten bitter, depressed.
It would have been easy to settle in that empty place but he understood this principle that the drought may come. There are dry seasons where we feel empty but that is not the end of your story. Rain is coming. The scripture says, "Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning". Rain can take a dry barren place and bring new life. It may have been that way for a month, for a year or for 20 years. But when the rain comes things that seem dead begin to bloom, begin to blossom, begin to flourish. They just needed some rain.
What you may think is over and done, the loss of a loved one, loss of a dream, loss of a relationship, you feel lonely, empty, like it could never change, no, all you need is some rain. The God we serve is saying, "I'm going to send rain to your barren places. It's not over. I'm going to rain down new opportunities, new relationships, new ideas, new dreams".
Not long ago my friend met a young lady that had never been married before. They hit it off and started dating. Recently, they got engaged. Now he's got that spring back in his step. Weeping endured for a night but joy came. He was in a barren place but God rained down favor. Some of you today, you're in that dry place. Things haven't turned out the way you've hoped, been through some difficulties, but that is not the end. Joy is coming.
You may be in a drought but rain is headed your way. This is your year to bloom, to blossom, to flourish. It's your year to see new growth, new opportunities. God is about to rain down his favor in abundance. He is going to turn your mourning into dancing, your sorrow into joy, your loneliness into love. He is going to give you beauty for those ashes. The drought is coming to an end.
First kings, chapter 18, the Samaritans had been in a great famine. For three and a half years there had been no rain. The people barely had food, barely were surviving. The prophet Elijah showed up and said to king Ahab, "I hear the sound of the abundance of rain". When he said that there wasn't a cloud in the sky. No sign of rain yet he chose to believe what he heard in his spirit in spite of what he saw. With his eyes he saw drought, famine, barrenness, but down in here he heard the sound of abundance of rain.
This is what faith is all about. You've got to believe what you hear in your heart even when what you see is just the opposite. You hear abundance but you may see lack. You hear health but you may see sickness. You hear rain but you may look around and see drought.
I'm sure Ahab thought, "Old Elijah, the heat must be getting to him because there's not a cloud in the sky. It's not going to rain". It's easy to talk yourself out of what God wants to do. God is saying, "There's about to be an abundance of favor in your life. The drought is coming to an end. You're going to see healing, restoration, new opportunities, new growth".
Now don't be like king Ahab, look around, "No, I don't think so, Joel". "The medical report is still bad". "My child is still acting up". "I'll never meet the right person". No, why don't you be like Elijah and have a boldness to believe what God has put in your heart? Why don't you start declaring, "The rain is coming. Favor is coming. 2018 is my year to bloom, to blossom, to flourish, to see new growth".
Elijah went on top of mount Carmel. He asked his assistant to go look on the other side of the mountain and see if there's any sign of rain. He put actions behind his faith. He was expecting it to change. The assistant came back and said, "No, Elijah. There's not a cloud in the sky. It's not going to rain". Elijah didn't get discouraged. He didn't think, "Well, I must have heard God wrong". He told him to go back and look again. He went and came back with the same report, "Nothing. No clouds". This happened six times.
If you're going to see abundance you can't let people talk you out of what God put in your heart. Don't let words of doubt and discouragement take root. People may tell you things like, "Do you really think you're going to get well? My grandmother died of that same disease". "Do you think you're going to get that position? I don't think you're really qualified". Let that go in one ear and out the other. People don't determine your destiny. God does.
What you hear in your spirit is more powerful than any negative words that have been spoken over you. If you will listen carefully you'll hear the sound of abundance, the sound of increase, the sound of new levels. That's the Creator of the universe calling out your seeds of greatness. God does not want you to stay where you are. He's got new levels. But you've got to get into agreement with him. You've got to ignite this moment and say, "Yes, this is for me today. My child may be off course but I'm not worried. I hear the sound of restoration. I know the rain is coming". "I may not feel well. I'm not discouraged. I hear the sound of healing". "I went through a loss. I'm not living depressed. I hear the sound of new beginnings. I know the drought is ending and the rain is coming".
When I look out at you, do you know what I hear? The sound of dreams coming to pass. The sound of marriages being restored. The sound of that baby you've been believing for. The sound of divine connections. You meeting the right person. I hear the sound of new opportunities. It's the sound of abundance.
On the seventh time, the assistant came back and said, "Elijah, this time I saw a small cloud in the sky. It wasn't much. Don't get your hopes up. It was just about the size of a man's hand". One thing I love about God is he can take something small and turn it into much. God doesn't need the whole sky to be filled with clouds. He can take a tiny little cloud.
Most people would dismiss it. "It's nothing. It's insignificant". Yet God can bring a downpour out of it. What am I saying? You don't need a bunch of people behind you. You just need the right person behind you. You don't have to be the most powerful, the most influential. God used a teenage girl named Esther, an orphan, to save all of Israel. God used a donkey to speak to a prophet. No offense, but most of us don't pay any attention to a donkey. It's insignificant. God used a slingshot and a few stones to defeat Goliath and put David, a shepherd boy with no training on the throne of Israel. Don't discount the little cloud. God can take something small and turn it into something great.
That's how Lakewood got started. In 1959, my dad decided to leave the church he was pastoring. He felt limited by the denomination he was in. He heard the sound of something bigger on the inside. Daddy wanted to start a new church but he didn't have any money. He didn't have a building. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. But one of his neighbors said, "John, I've got an old rundown feed store that we're not using anymore. You're welcome to hold your services there".
This little wood frame building had holes in the floor. It still had hay and feed in it. My parents and some others, they cleaned it out, put 90 wooden chairs and started Lakewood Church. We've come a long way, baby. Don't despise the day of small beginnings.
Some of you, like Elijah, all you can see is a little cloud, a little glimmer of hope. It doesn't look like much. Every voice tells you, "Don't get your hopes up. You're going to be disappointed again. Nothing is going to change". I want to tell you just the opposite. Get your hopes up. Find your umbrella. Put your raincoat on. God is about to rain down an abundance of favor. There is going to be an abundance of goodness in your life. God has done it in the past. He is going to do it in the future. That drought is coming to an end.
Elijah told king Ahab, "You better get in your chariot and take off because the sound of abundance that I've heard on the inside is about to come to pass on the outside". Ahab took off in his chariot. Elijah took off running. This was before there was any sign of rain. Notice Elijah's faith. He was making plans for abundance when all he saw was a little cloud.
If you wait around discouraged, negative, "I'll believe it when I see it," you'll be waiting your whole life. You've got to do like Elijah and start making plans for abundance. Start making plans for increase. Start talking like it's going to happen. Not, "If I get well," but "When I get well". Not, "If I break this addiction," but "When I break this addiction". Not, "If I start my business," but "When I start my new business". You've got to show God that you're trusting him.
This is what Elijah did. As he was heading out, the heavens opened up. The rains came pouring down. The three and half year drought was over. "Well, Joel. That sounds great but I don't even see a little cloud in my sky". "I've been believing to meet the right person but I haven't had a date in 27 years. I don't see how it could happen". No, just because you don't see anything doesn't mean God is not working. You don't know what God is up to behind the scenes.
A few months ago I was in my backyard. It's a beautiful day, sunny, blue and clear. I was in a lawn chair just relaxing, enjoying the day. All of the sudden, out of nowhere, it began to rain. I did not see one cloud in the sky. It was as blue as can be. The sun was out very bright. But for about three minutes there was this downpour.
I thought, "Where is this rain coming from"? It was like God said, "Joel, I can make it rain whenever I want to. I can use a little cloud, a big cloud, or no cloud. I'm God. I'm the all powerful Creator of the universe. When I say rain I don't need a cloud. When I say healing I don't have to have medicine. When I say promotion I don't need your boss's approval. When I say abundance I don't need a bank. I'm not limited by the natural. I'm a supernatural God".
All of your circumstances may say, "You'll never get well. You'll never get out of debt. You'll never accomplish your dreams. There's not a cloud in the sky". But take heart. He is still God. He is still on the throne. He doesn't need a cloud to make it rain.
I met a man after our services a while back. He had had 90% of his vocal chords removed. He had some kind of infection. It wouldn't go away. Finally, the doctors had to remove them. He was told that he would never be able to speak, that he might be able to make some sounds but he would never be able to speak. But he talked to me just like I'm talking to you. I didn't know anything was wrong. The doctors couldn't explain it. They said, "Medically speaking, you shouldn't be able to talk".
What was that? God making it rain without a cloud. God can do what medical science cannot do. Don't talk yourself out of it. Don't let your circumstances discourage you. Everything doesn't have to look the way you think it should look. God's ways are not our ways. God brought water out of a rock. Jesus told Peter to go catch a fish, open its mouth and there was the money he needed for taxes. God caused a young lady named Mary to have a baby without knowing a man. God healed my mother from terminal cancer without treatment. God put me up here in front of a lot of people without going to seminary. God gave me a beautiful wife without find-a-mate.com.
He is God. He can use those things or he can do it another way, without a cloud, without a bank, without the treatment, without the experience. God has ways to make it rain in your life that you've never dreamed of. You don't have to figure everything out. All you've got to do is believe. In fact, it says in proverbs, "Lean not to your own understanding". Sometimes there is no logical solution. You've got to turn your mind off. If you're constantly trying to figure it out that's just going to make you discouraged, depressed, frustrated, but just because you don't see a way doesn't mean that God doesn't have a way.
I heard a story about a little girl that wanted a kitten so badly. She kept asking her mother week after week. But her mom didn't want any more pets. She told her no again and again. This little girl wouldn't let up. For months she continued asking for that kitten. Finally, her mother said, "Listen, honey. If God gives you a kitten, I'll let you keep it".
The little girl didn't know any better. She went out in her backyard, got on her knees and said, "God, please give me a kitten". When she finished praying, with her mother watching, this kitten came flying out of the air and landed unharmed right beside her. The mother thought she was seeing things. She went outside and looked around. There was no tree overhead. It was like this kitten had been rained down from the heavens.
The little girl picked it up. "Thank you, Lord, for my kitten". Several weeks later the mother learned that one of her neighbors that lived behind her and about four houses down was trying to get this little kitten out of a small tree. The father couldn't reach it with his ladder so he tied a rope around the tree and the other end to the bumper of his car. He began to pull forward to bend the tree over. When he got it bent far enough over where he thought he could get it, the rope broke and the tree acted like a slingshot. It swung that kitten over 200 yards away, landed right by that little girl.
Friends, God knows how to make it rain in your life. He doesn't need a cloud. He may not do it an ordinary way. Quit trying to figure out how it's going to happen and just believe that it will happen.
I received a letter from a young lady named Alana. She and her parents, brother, they've been a part of Lakewood for about ten years. Alana was born with spina bifida. At several months old she had to have surgery to untether her spinal cord. Her parents were told she would probably never be able to walk, to run, or do any kind of physical activity. But they believed that God can make a way even when we don't see any way. Every day her mother would do leg exercises with little Alana.
Much to the doctor's surprise at seven months old she started walking. It was like God putting an exclamation point on it. She grew up and joined our children's choir, loved to sing, loved to dance, life was good. But at ten years old she had complications with her spinal cord, had to have an emergency surgery. When she woke up she was paralyzed from the neck down.
The doctors told her, "I'm sorry, Alana. You'll never be able to walk again". She could have gotten depressed, and thought, "Well, just my luck. I knew this was coming". No, at ten years old she said, "Doctors, God did it for me once. He will do it for me again". She said, "I walked in here on my own and I'll walk out of here on my own".
She was in a drought, but like Elijah, she heard the sound of rain. Every circumstance said, "You're paralyzed. Just accept it. Your life is limited". But on the inside she heard God saying, "This is not the end of your story. You will walk again. I've got a destiny for you to fulfill". When she told the doctor, "I walked in here and I'll walk out," right then for the first time since the surgery she felt her toes begin to move.
Her therapist told her, "Out of all of my patients with spina bifida you're the only one that can walk without leg braces". Her doctors wrote on her report, "There is no scientific explanation as to why Alana is the way she is".
What was that? God making it rain without a cloud. Her doctors are so impressed they call her, "God's rock star". Alana recently graduated from an early college program and is about to get her nursing degree. Her dream is to become a pediatric neurosurgeon to help other children in her same condition. Here's Alana and her family right here on the front row. Come on, Alana. Will you stand up for us? We're proud of you.
You may be in a drought today. You don't see any cloud in the sky. But remember, God doesn't need a cloud. He did it for Alana. He can do it for you. Now you've got to get in agreement. Start saying, "Father, thank you that the rain is coming. Thank you that healing is coming. Thank you that restoration is on its way". Dare to make some declarations of faith like she did. "I walked in here on my own and I will walk out". Why? "The God I serve is a rainmaking God.
This is what Abraham did when he was waiting for the child that God promised him. He was way too old. It looked impossible but the scripture says, "He grew strong in faith by giving praise to God". He got up every morning and said, "Lord, thank you that your rain is coming. Thank you that my baby is on its way. Thank you that you are faithful to your word". He kept thanking God for what he heard in his spirit.
Like Abraham, God has put dreams in your heart. He has spoken promises over you. Deep down you know you'll get well. You know you'll break that addiction. You know you will accomplish your dreams. But in the natural it looks impossible. You don't see how. The odds are against you. It's been so long. No, God is saying, "What I started in your life I will finish". Rain is coming. The clouds are starting to form. I can hear some thunder rumbling in the distance.
Now keep praying. Keep believing. Keep expecting. One touch of God's favor, one downpour, and like Alana you will be able to walk again. Like Abraham, the baby will suddenly be conceived. The drought will come to an end.
I have a pastor friend. He needed a larger auditorium. His church was really growing but he didn't have any way to expand. He was landlocked. Year after year he kept searching, looking at the real estate listings, driving the city but nothing was available. Door after door had closed. He could have gotten discouraged but he just kept praying, kept believing, kept thanking God that the rain was coming.
Last fall a large retail store about two miles from his church unexpectedly went out of business, broke their lease. The owners of the property came to him and said, "Would you like to lease our building for your church"? Now he has four times the space, four times the parking, in a premier location. He said, "Joel, it's better than anything I ever imagined".
What was that? A downpour of God's goodness. Suddenly, the drought came to an end. You need to get ready. In 2018 rain is going to come looking for you. You're not going to have to go after it. Good breaks, opportunities, restoration, divine connections, is going to track you down.
Friends, I hear the sound of an abundance of rain. You need to get your umbrellas. God is about to show you a downpour of his favor. Every drought in your life is coming to an end. The dry places, the barren spots, are about to see new life. This is your year to bloom, to blossom, to flourish. Now get up every morning expecting it. "Lord, thank you that your rain is coming". If you do this, I believe and declare you're going to see not a trickle, not a sprinkle, but a downpour of God's goodness. An abundance of rain in 2018.