Joel Osteen — The Twenty First Day
I want to talk to you today about the 21st day. We all have things that we're believing for, a dream to come to pass, our health to turn around, to meet the right person. We've been praying for a long time and standing on the promises. We don't see anything happening. Seems like God is on vacation, like it's not doing any good. But what you can't see is behind the scenes, God is at work. He not only heard you when you prayed, he took it one step further and put the miracle into motion.
The Psalmist said, "The moment you pray, the tide of the battle begins to turn," and just because you don't see anything happening doesn't mean the answer is not on the way, and the people that see promises fulfilled, the people that see breakthroughs are the people that keep praying, keep believing, keep standing in faith.
In 1 John, it says, "This is the confidence we have in God. If we ask anything according to his will, we know that he hears us". Thoughts will tell you, "It's not making a difference to pray. You're wasting your time getting your hopes up, believing that you'll get well. You saw the medical report. You'll never break the addiction. You've had it so long".
Don't believe those thoughts. The moment you pray, the Creator of the universe goes to work. It may not happen on your timetable or the way you thought, but he is a faithful God. What he promised you, he will bring to pass, and you may have been waiting for a long time, but down in your spirit, there has to be a resolve, a confidence that says, "I know the answer is on the way. I know the miracle is in motion. I've asked according to his will, and I know it's just a matter of time before it shows up".
Don't talk yourself out of it. Don't let delays, detours, disappointments cause you to give up on what God's put in your heart. The healing is en route, the promotion is on the way, the breakthrough is on schedule, the right person is headed your way.
In Daniel chapter 10, Daniel had been praying and fasting for a long time, asking God for help day after day, didn't seem like it was doing any good. Nothing was changing. But one morning, Daniel was out at a river, he saw a vision. An angel appeared to him. He said in verse 12, "Daniel, since the first day you began to pray, your request was heard in heaven. I was sent with the answer, but for 21 days, the Prince of Persia blocked me. Then Michael the Archangel came to help me break through the opposition".
Notice the first time Daniel prayed, God heard him. The first time he prayed, God sent the angel with the answer. Like with Daniel, the first time you prayed, God began to change things in your favor. He began to move out the wrong people, line up the right people, arrange healing, good breaks, favor. It's right up in front of you. What's the delay? What's taking it so long? There are forces trying to keep you from your healing, keep you from your abundance, keep you from your freedom. The good news is the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. It took the angel 21 days to get to Daniel.
What you're praying about may be taking a long time. You don't see anything improving, you think it's never going to happen. Get ready, your 21st day is coming. The angel has already been dispatched. God has already sent the healing, he's already sent the vindication, already sent the promotion. Right now, the angel is fighting through the forces of darkness, and every time you thank God that it's on the way, every time you say, "Lord, I believe my healing is coming, I believe the right person is coming, I believe a new level is coming," when you stay in faith, you know what's happening? The angel is getting closer. It's just a matter of time before that shows up.
I talked to a young man, he'd struggled with an addiction most of his life. He's in his late 20s and he started listening to our messages about how God wants you to be free and how you were created to live a victorious life. Every day, he started praying, asking God to help him. He would make declarations, "I am free, I am whole. This addiction doesn't control me". Month after month, praying, believing, declaring the promises, but nothing was getting any better. He went to rehab and that didn't help.
He could've thought, "This is my lot in life. I'll always be addicted". But from the time you pray till the time the answer comes, that's called the trial of your faith. That's when it's easy to get discouraged and give up, it's easy to talk yourself out of it. "I tried, I did my best. It's never going to happen". No, keep praying, keep believing. It may not have happened yet, but what God promised you he's still going to bring to pass. That 21st day is on the way, and this is what this young man did.
About 2 months ago, after being addicted for years, he woke up one morning and had no desire for the drugs. When his friends came over and started smoking, it made him sick to his stomach. He said, "Joel, I can't explain it. I didn't do anything differently. I didn't try to gradually cut back". Suddenly, the addiction was broken. Suddenly, he came in to his 21st day.
And you may have struggled with an addiction for a long time, but that addiction has a 21st day. Your healing, your abundance has a 21st day. God has already set the time to turn it around. When you come into your 21st day, every force that's held you back will be broken. But when we've struggled in an area for a long time, it's easy to accept it and think, "Maybe I'm not supposed to accomplish this dream. I tried and it didn't work out. I've been single a long time. Maybe I'm not supposed to get married. I've had this depression for years. Maybe I'm not supposed to be happy". No, that may have been your past, but that is not your future. God is about to break stubborn things, strongholds that look permanent you've dealt with for years, those forces that have held you back.
Like with Daniel, God sent Michael to assist him, God is going to send reinforcements to loose what belongs to you. Suddenly, it's going to turn around. Suddenly, the depression is going to break. Suddenly, your business is going to take off. What happened? You came in to your 21st day. It's closer than you think. You're close to your healing. You're close to meeting the right person. You're close to a new level.
Now, don't give up on what you're believing for. It may be taking a long time, but what you can't see is the angel is on the way. Your 21st day could be this week, it could be this month. What if you knew your 21st day was next Friday? You would quit worrying and you would start worshiping. You would quit being discouraged and you would start thanking God. "Lord, thank you that it's on the way. Thank you for your goodness. Thank you that you're at work in my life".
David said each morning, "I bring my requests before God and wait expectantly". He didn't just pray and say, "Okay, I did my part". He prayed and then waited with expectation. He went through the day looking for God's goodness, believing for favor, talking like it was going to happen. Not, "I'll never defeat this giant. Look how big he is. He's twice my size, I don't have a chance". David had a report of victory. He looked at Goliath and said, "This day I will defeat you and feed your head to the birds of the air".
He expected God's favor. He said, "Surely goodness, mercy follows me everywhere that I go". He was saying, in effect, "I know my 21st day is coming. I know the angel is on the way. I know the forces that are for me are greater than the forces that are against me".
What am I saying? It's not enough to just pray. You have to follow it up with expectancy, with a knowing that God not only heard you because you prayed according to his will, but that he dispatched the angel with the answer, and I'm not saying that it's going to happen in 3 weeks. God has his own timetable. The 21 days is symbolic. It means there is a set time for God to break through with the answer to your prayer. No person can stop him, no addiction, no sickness. All the forces of darkness cannot stop what God has ordained for your life.
Now, I believe even right now, as faith is rising, strongholds are being broken. Promises are about to spring forth. Dreams are about to come to pass. Addictions, depression, sicknesses are leaving. God is going to make things happen that you couldn't make happen. You're going to know you came in to your 21st day. Well, you say, "Joel, this all sounds good, it's encouraging, but I don't believe it's going to happen for me. I don't believe that just because you said something, anything is going to change". Then this is not for you, this is for believers. This is for people that know God is in control, that he set the miracle into motion, that the angel's on the way, that the 21st day is coming.
One time, I ordered some custom running shoes online, and when I clicked to purchase, it said there was a 4 to 6 week delivery time. In a couple of hours, I received an email with a confirmation number where I could track the order. You could go on the company's website anytime and find the status, and the first couple of weeks when I tracked it, it said, "In production". The shoes were being made.
About a week later, I received another email that said they had been shipped. This time, when I went online to check the status, it said, "In transit". I didn't know where the shoes were, I didn't know when they were going to be delivered, all I knew is that they were on the way. I didn't worry about how they had been shipped, what route they had chosen. The shoes could've been made overseas and put on a plane to New York city, put on a truck down here to Houston, went to the main post office.
The routing didn't concern me, why? I knew those shoes had my name on them, I had a confirmation number. It was just a matter of time before they were going to show up. In a couple of days, there was a knock on the door and there were the shoes.
When God puts a promise in your heart, you don't know how it's going to happen, you don't know what route God is going to choose, you don't know the exact time, but what you do know is you have a confirmation number, so to speak. You can find the promise in the scripture. "God, you said you would restore health back unto me. You said I would lend and not borrow. You said my children will be mighty in the land. You said you'd give beauty for these ashes".
When you let the promise take root, in effect, God put your name on it, and if you could check that promise on your computer, what you would see is, "In transit. On the way". Now, you don't have to worry about how it's going to be delivered, what route God is going to use, when it's going to happen. God knows how to get it to you. What has your name on it is headed your way.
No disrespect to FedEx or UPS, but they can make a mistake. But God doesn't make any mistakes. His delivery service is 100% accurate, and it will be 100% on time, and if you will stay in faith, if you will keep believing, what belongs to you will come to you at the exact right time, and some of the things you think will never happen, it's been too long, the situation has gotten too bad, if you could check the promise on the heavenly computer, you wouldn't see "Canceled, disregard, too late". You would see, "On schedule, on time, to be delivered".
It's not too late. You haven't made too many mistakes. You haven't missed too many opportunities. God put the promise in your heart. It has your name on it, and God doesn't change his mind. He's not moved by negative circumstances, by how long it's been, by who doesn't like you. What has your name on it, God is going to bring to you.
The Psalmist said, "God has blessings stored up for the righteous". There is healing with your name on it. There's a baby, a spouse with your name on them. There is a business, abundance with your name on it. Here's the beauty, we didn't have to pay for it. God sent his son to pay the price so that we could live an abundant, faith-filled, victorious life. Why don't you start believing for what already belongs to you? God has some 21st days for you. Not singular, plural, God has blessings stored up for the righteous.
When you're tempted to get discouraged and give up on what you're believing for, go get your confirmation number out. Find the promise. "God, you said I can do all things through Christ. You said I am strong in the Lord. So father, thank you that strength is in transit. Thank you that breakthroughs are in transit".
The reason you need your confirmation number, the reason you need the promise is God is not obligated to bring to pass what we say, but he is obligated to bring to pass what he says. When you can say, "God, you said as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord". You're believing for a child, "God, you said in Psalms you would make me the happy mother of children". When you remind God what he said, you're going to see some 21st days. God is faithful to his word.
God kept a promise to David hundreds of years after David had died. God could've thought, "He's gone, he'll never know". But God is so true to what he said, 305 years after David had died, one of his relatives was on the throne, not making good decisions, and God said, in effect, "I would've taken away the throne, but for David's sake, I will not do it". That's how committed God is to what he promised.
Imagine what happens when God hears you praying the promises, declaring the promises, thanking him for the promises. I can imagine that's when heaven comes to attention. That's when God says to Michael, "Go down there and break through the forces of darkness. Give them what they're praying about. They believe I will do what I promised".
There was a salesman going door to door selling vacuum cleaners, and he came to a house, and a young man answered the door, and the salesman went through his pitch. The young man says, "Sir, I don't need a vacuum cleaner, I need a kidney. I'm waiting for a transplant". There were 500 people in line in front of him. The salesman said, "I understand. I'm sorry to have bothered you," and he turned to leave.
As he was walking away, something said to him so strongly, "You need to give that young man a kidney. I sent you to this house for a reason, not to sell a vacuum, but to give him his health back". Right there standing in the front lawn, he called his wife and asked what she thought about him donating a kidney. She was fine, he called his dad, he was fine. Ten minutes later, went back to the door, told the young man, "Let's go see a doctor. I want to give you a kidney". It just so happened he was a perfect match, donated the kidney, today both men healthy, whole, strong.
What am I saying? That young man may not have realized there was a kidney with his name on it and it was already in transit. God knows what you need and he knows how to get it to you. You don't have to figure out how God's going to do it. The scripture says, "Lean not to your own understanding". If you try to figure it out, you're going to get confused.
When we were trying to buy property to build a new sanctuary, everything fell through. I was disappointed, I didn't see how it could work out, I thought we were stuck. But I was thinking one way, natural, ordinary. God was thinking supernatural, extraordinary. What I couldn't see is the Compaq Center. This place was in transit and it had our name on it. It was more than I could ever ask or think.
What God brings you, it may not be exactly what you thought, the way you thought, but I can tell you firsthand what God has in store will be bigger, better, more rewarding than you ever imagined. Don't put God in a box. You may not see how it can happen, the medical report is not good, you don't have the finances, the connections. God has ways to do it that you've never thought of.
David used a slingshot to defeat Goliath. He didn't have the training, the experience, the equipment. But a slingshot with the favor of God is more powerful than a whole army without it. This young man probably never dreamed somebody would come knocking on his door to give him a kidney, and if you knew all the things that are in transit for you right now, all the things that not only have your name on them, but they're already on the way, you wouldn't live worried, wondering if it's going to happen, frustrated because you didn't get the promotion.
When it's your time, when you come into your 21st day, the promotion will come to you, the kidney will come to you, the Compaq Center will come to you. You single people, the husband, the wife, they'll come to you. Quit worrying, they're in transit, they're right on schedule, and they're good looking. Might as well throw that in. I can't find that in the scripture, but I like it. But while you're waiting for the promises, while you're waiting for the 21st day, do your part, keep praying, keep believing, keep expecting.
Too often we give up on what we're believing for. In Luke 18, Jesus told his disciples a story, the scripture says to show them that they must keep praying until the answer comes. That's the key. May be taking a long time, keep praying. "Joel, you're saying 21 days. I've been believing for my child to get back on course for 21 years". Don't stop praying now. God's working on him. He's in transit. Behind the scenes, things are happening that you cannot see. That 21st day is on the way.
I read about an American Indian tribe that were known for their rain dances. They had a reputation that anytime they danced, it would rain. When a surrounding community needed water, they would call on this one particular tribe and without fail, it would rain. A community leader said to the Indian chief, "How is it that every time you dance, it always rains"? The chief said, "It's very simple, we dance until it rains".
And if you're going to see everything God has in store for you, you have to pray until it rains. Believe until it rains. Expect until it rains. Not begging God, "God, please help me. God, please turn this around". Turn your prayer into praise. "Lord, thank you that you're making a way where I don't see a way. Lord, thank you that you're bringing the right person. Lord, thank you that you're increasing me so I can be a bigger blessing". Praise in the scripture brought down the walls of Jericho. Praise opened prison doors of their own accord.
Years ago, people didn't use credit cards as much as they do today, and when they wanted to purchase something they couldn't afford, many times they would put it on layaway. A dishwasher, piece of furniture, they would put something down. But unlike a credit card, the store would keep the item until it was paid off. So, every week or so, they'd pay a little bit more, a little bit more, week after week, month after month until it was paid off.
In the same way, prayer is not a one-time payment. "God, I prayed for 2 minutes. I told you what I needed". No, if you're serious about what you're believing for, you have to pay it down, so to speak. You have to show God that you're not going to give up because it's not happening on your timetable. You're not going to get discouraged because you don't see anything changing. You just keep paying it down.
A better way to put it is praising it down. Every time you thank God, you're getting closer. Driving to work in the morning, "Lord, thank you that you're restoring health back unto me". You just made a payment. At the office, under your breath, "Father, thank you that you're fighting my battles," another payment. At home cooking dinner, "Lord, thank you that I'm getting better, stronger, healthier". You keep that up, before long, you'll pay it off.
This is what Abraham did, he waited 20 years to have the child that God promised him. The scripture says, "Abraham grew strong in faith, giving praise to God". How did he wait 20 years? Complaining, "God, why is it taking so long"? No, he kept thanking God. "Lord, thank you that my baby's on the way. Thank you that you're faithful to what you promised". He paid it down, paid it down. Finally, little Isaac showed up, the promised child, and like Abraham, many of you have done this. You're constantly thanking God, you live with faith and expectancy.
God is saying to you today, "You are close to seeing that promise. The angel is about to break through with the answer". Don't stop praising, don't stop believing. What God put in your heart is in transit. It's headed your direction. It's just a matter of time before it shows up, and if you'll do this, I believe and declare, like Daniel, you're going to come in to your 21st day. You're going to see your healing, your promotion, your breakthrough, your victory. God is going to open doors no man can shut, and take you to the fullness of your destiny in Jesus' name.