Joel Osteen — Trust God's Timing
I want to talk to you today about trusting God's timing. In life we're always waiting for something: waiting for a dream to come to pass, waiting to meet the right person, waiting for a problem to turn around. When it's not happening as fast as we would like it's easy to get frustrated. But you have to realize the moment you prayed God established a set time to bring the promise to pass. God has a set time for you to meet the right person. There is a set time for the problem to turn around, a set time for your healing, your promotion, your breakthrough.
It may be tomorrow, or next week, or five years from now. But when you understand the time has already been set, it takes all the pressure off. You won't live worried, wondering when this is ever going to happen. You'll relax and enjoy your life knowing that the promise has already been scheduled by the Creator of the universe.
Some of you have been praying about a situation for a long time. You don't see anything happening. You could easily be discouraged. But what if God were to pull back the curtain and allow you to see into the future and you knew that on February 12, at 2:33 in the afternoon, you were going to meet the person of your dreams? You wouldn't be discouraged. You would be excited. You would start working out. You would go buy some new clothes. Why? You know the big day is coming.
Here's where it takes faith. God promises that there are set times in our future but he doesn't tell us when they will be. Your set time may be tomorrow morning at 9:47. You'll get the phone call you've been waiting for. Your set time may be October 25, two years from now. You'll get a good break and that will thrust you to a new level.
My question is, "Do you trust God enough to believe that your set times are coming"? Are you willing to wait with a good attitude knowing that they're on their way? Or will you get discouraged and think, "I don't know, Joel. I've been trying to break this addiction since high school". No, you've got to get a new perspective. God has a set time for you to break that addiction. It's already in your future. Don't let the negative thoughts talk you out of it. There is a set time for you to be completely well, a set time for God to turn the legal situation around.
Now quit worrying about it. Quit living stressed out, thinking, "What if I don't meet the right person? What if I don't ever get well"? No, it says in Hebrews, "Those who have believed enter into the rest of God". The way you know you're really believing is you have a rest. You're at peace. You know the answer is on the way. You know the right people, the right opportunities, have already been set in your future.
On January 8th, 1986 at 4:00 in the afternoon, I walked into a jewelry store to buy a battery for my watch. Out walked the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. It was Victoria. I didn't tell her but I thought, "This is my set time". It took me a year to convince her that it was her set time too.
On December 3, 2003 at 1:30 in the afternoon, when mayor Brown handed us the keys to the Compaq Center, that was not an ordinary time. That was a set time ordained by the Most High God.
Friends, there are set times in your future. You've prayed, believed, stood in faith. Let me assure you, you're going to come in to set times of favor, a set time where a problem suddenly turns around, a set time where you meet the right person, a set time where a good break thrusts you years ahead.
That's what Habakkuk said. "The vision is for an appointed time. It may seem slow in coming but wait patiently, for it will surely come". Notice not, "Maybe come". Not, "I hope so". No, God has already set the date. The appointed time has already been put on your calendar. One translation says, "It won't be one second late".
Sometimes we think, "Well, everybody is getting ahead of me. My friends are all married and I'm still single. My co-workers are being promoted but I'm still stuck here". No, don't get discouraged. Your set time is coming. It is not going to be one second late. The good news is God knows how to make up for what seems like lost time. God doesn't always take us logically from A to B to C. Sometimes God will take you from A to B to C and then thrust you all the way down to S, T, U, V.
What happened? You hit a set time that pushed you 50 years ahead. Now quit worrying about who's getting ahead of you and just run your race. Be the best that you can be. Keep honoring God with your life. Keep treating people right and God will get you to where you're supposed to be. That promotion, that healing, that breakthrough, that right person, they won't be one second late. Our God is not a random God. He is a precise God. He has lined up solutions for you down to the very second.
I know a young lady that was believing to meet the right man. She was in her early 30's and never really had a serious relationship with anyone. She was starting to wonder if it was going to happen. One day she was driving home from work. She had a flat tire and pulled over on the side of the freeway. In a few seconds, another car pulled over. Out stepped this young man as handsome as can be, went up to her window and said, "Can I help you"? She took one look at him and said, "I think you can".
He not only changed her tire but he invited her out to dinner. Long story short, they ended up falling in love. A year and a half later they got married. Today, they're as happy as can be. I see them at Lakewood all the time. That wasn't a coincidence. It wasn't a lucky break. That was a set time ordained by the Creator of the universe.
Think about how precise God's timing is. The tire had to go flat at just the right time. An hour later and it wouldn't have happened. There had to be just the right amount of traffic. Too many cars; he would've been late. Too few cars; he would've been early. He had to leave his work at just the right time. One extra fifteen-minute phone call and that would have never worked out. The timing was down to the split second for it to all fall into place.
What am I saying? You can trust God's timing. God has it all figured out. What you're praying about, what you're believing for, it's not going to be one second late. If it hasn't happened yet it doesn't mean something is wrong. It doesn't mean God is mad at you. It doesn't mean it's never going to work out. God has already established the time down to the split second. You don't have to worry. You don't have to live frustrated. Stay in peace. Enter into this rest. God has you in the palm of his hand. Your steps are being directed by the Creator of the universe; not randomly, not vaguely. No-down to the millisecond. Down to the most finite, small detail.
When you understand this it takes all of the pressure off. You won't go around wondering when something is going to happen. "God, when are you going to change my husband? God, when are you going to answer my prayer"? No, when you know the time has been set you'll have a peace. Whether it's 20 minutes or 20 years you know what God promised he will bring to pass.
Here's a great prayer we should pray every day. "God, give me the grace to accept your timing.' I'd love to tell you that if you stay in faith, if you believe, then God will always answer your prayer within 24 hours, or at least within the first week. But we know that's not reality. God promises he will be true to his word but he never puts a time-frame on it.
It would be a lot easier if God told us when we were going to get well, when we would meet the right person, when our child would straighten up. But the truth is, that wouldn't take any faith. It takes faith to say, "God, I don't know when you are going to do it, but God, I trust you enough to believe that you will do it, that the answer is already in my future".
The scripture says, "The vision is for an appointed time". The appointed time is the best time. God can see the big picture for our lives. He knows what's up ahead. He knows what we're going to need, who we're going to need, when they need to show up. If God did everything we ask on our timetable it would limit us. Because sometimes, what we're asking for is too small. Sometimes the person we think we can't live without, God knows in ten years they're not going to be good for us, so he is closing the door right now. Sometimes the promotion we want so badly, if God gave it to us right now, he knows that would keep us from a much bigger promotion that he has three years down the road. God has the advantage of seeing it all.
The longer I live the more I trust him. How many times have I looked back and said, "God, thank you for not answering that prayer. God, thank you for not letting that person into my life". God knows what he is doing. And what you're praying about may be good. It may be a part of your destiny but it's not the appointed time. If there is a right time that means there is a wrong time. If it hasn't happened yet, instead of being frustrated, worried, "God, when is my business going to grow"? "God, I'm so lonely. When am I going to meet somebody"? No, have a new approach. "God, you know what's best for me. You can see the big picture. I'm not going to live frustrated. God, I trust your timing".
See, we're in a society that wants everything right now. We're being programmed for immediacy. Don't make me wait. But the scripture says, "It's through faith and patience that we inherit the promises". It's easy to have faith. "God, I believe I'm going to accomplish my dreams. God, I believe I'm going to overcome this obstacle".
We've got the faith part down. Let's make sure we get the patience part down. "God, I not only believe for big things but I trust your timing. God, I'm not going to get discouraged if it doesn't happen immediately. I'm not going to give up because it's taken a week, a month, or five years. I know the set time is already in my future so I'm going to wait with faith and patience because I know that it's on the way".
When Victoria was pregnant with our first son, Jonathan, the first few months were very exciting. Not a problem at all. But about six months in, Victoria started getting uncomfortable. Her feet started swelling. By the seventh month her back was hurting. She couldn't sleep good at night. By the eighth month she was saying, "God, I want to have this baby right now. I am tired of waiting". But we know God has an appointed time. The child is not ready. It's still growing, developing. If God let her have the baby early the child may not be healthy.
Sometimes we pray, "God, give me this promise right now". "God, I'm uncomfortable. These people aren't treating me right". "God, business is slow". What we can't see is that something is not ready. Maybe it's another person that's going to be involved. God is still working on them. Maybe it's another situation that's going to be a part of your destiny. It's not in place yet. Or maybe God is doing a work in you, developing your character, growing you stronger in that process.
It's interesting, the scripture says, "God didn't take the children of Israel the shortest route to the Promised Land because he knew they were not prepared for war". God could see the big picture. He knew if he took them the shortest way, their enemies would be too powerful and they would be defeated. So on purpose, God took them a longer route to protect them and to strengthen them so that they could fulfill their destiny.
If something is not happening on your timetable, remind yourself, "God knows what he is doing. He has my best interests at heart. I wouldn't be having this delay unless God had a very good reason for it". And while you're waiting, don't make the mistake of trying to figure everything out. "God, I've been praying for my child for three years. Why won't he change"?
No, if you're constantly trying to figure things out that's only going to frustrate you. Turn it over to God. Say like David, "God, my times are in your hands. I'm not going to worry about why something hasn't happened or worry about why it's taking so long. God, I trust you. I know at the set times everything you promised me will come to pass". Sometimes when we get in a hurry we make the mistake of taking matters into our own hands and we try to force things to happen. Many times we miss God's best.
This is what happened with Abraham and Sarah. God gave them the promise that they were going to have a baby but year after year went by and nothing was happening so they decided to try to help God out. Sarah came up with a plan. She told Abraham to sleep with one of her maids. That way they could have that baby. Abraham, instead of being patient, waiting for God's timing, he went along with the plan. And sure enough, they had a baby boy. They were very excited. They named him Ishmael.
They said, "Look! This is the child God promised us". But God said, "Abraham, Sarah. That is not the child I promised you. That's something that you did on your own".
Do you know Ishmael was a struggle to raise? They were constantly having problems; conflict. There was no grace for him. But understand, what God orders, God will pay for. What God gives birth to, God will always give you the grace to take care of it. But when we birth things in our own strength out of God's timing then God is not obligated. Fourteen years later, at the set time, Sarah gave birth to Isaac; the child that God promised them.
Like Sarah, there will be times in life where it's not happening as fast as you would like. You'll be tempted to try to force things to happen. Maybe in a relationship, the person you're thinking about dating, you know down deep they're not good for you. They don't treat you with respect. But you're afraid that you might not meet anyone else. No, if you'll let go of Ishmael, Isaac will show up. The one God promised you is in your future. The time has already been set. Now be patient and trust God to do it his way.
I learned a long time ago God doesn't need my help. He's got it all figured out. He knows the end from the beginning. All we have to do is trust him. You don't have to try to force doors to open. You don't have to try to make people like you, manipulate your way into a friendship, into a position. No, you just keep honoring God with your life, stay in peace, trust his timing and God will open doors that no man can shut. God will bring amazing people across your path. God will defeat your enemies and get you to where you're supposed to be. Now don't go around birthing Ishmael's when God wants to give you Isaac's.
That's what it says in Psalms. "When you delight yourself in the Lord, God will give you the desires of your heart". There's a big difference between God giving you something and you having to work to make it happen. When we try to force things, we don't wait for God's timing, it's a constant struggle. It's a burden. We can't seem to ever get it off the ground. But if you'll let God do it his way, in his timing, there'll be a supernatural grace. There will be an ease. Yes, you'll have opposition. But you'll feel a strength, a peace, God's favor supernaturally pushing you forward.
I remember a couple of years after my father died I really wanted to write a book. I had a strong desire but I didn't know any publishers or anything about the book industry. Several times I started to call a friend that did know a publisher. I didn't feel good about it. I just knew it wasn't right. Over the next couple of years I was approached by different publishers and even offered a contract. On the surface it looked good. They were fine people but down here I could hear a still small voice telling me, "Joel, be patient. This is not the right one. Trust my timing. Something better is coming".
I put it on hold month after month. I didn't worry about it. I wasn't frustrated. My attitude was, "God, my times are in your hands. When you want me to write a book I know you will open up the doors".
See, you can do the right thing at the wrong time and miss God's best. Timing is everything. Be patient and let God open the doors. Yes, you may have to knock. You'll have to put forth the effort. I'm a believer in being aggressive and pursuing dreams but you don't have to force doors to open. You don't have to try to make people to like you. You don't have to talk yourself into it. If you'll be patient and wait for God's timing he will give you the desires of your heart.
One day through a series of unusual events I met this publisher. I knew they were the right people. I felt good about it. Everything fell into place. And that book, "Your best life now," went on to become a huge success, published in over 40 languages.
That's what happens when you wait for God's timing. You won't have to settle for Ishmael. God will give you Isaac's. He will give you what he promised. This principle is especially important when we're facing challenges. If you get a negative medical report, you lost your biggest client at the office, or at work somebody is talking behind your back, trying to make you look bad. It's easy to get all wrought up and think, "I've got to get in there and straighten things out. I'm going to fix that person. I've got to get a second job. I'll never make it without that client".
So often we think we have to do it only in our own strength. This is when many people make quick decisions that end up only making matters worse. The scripture says, "Be still and know that I am God".
When you feel overwhelmed and you're tempted to take everything into your own hands you have to make yourself be still. The battle is not yours. The battle is the Lord's. But as long as you're fighting it, trying to make it happen your way, trying to pay somebody back, upset, worried, then God is going to step back and let you do it on your own. But when you take it out of your hands and say, "God, I trust you. I know you have already set the time to bring me out. You've already set the time to vindicate me. You've set the time to bring healing. So I'm going to be still and know that you are God'.
This is what the Israelites did. They were surrounded by a huge army; greatly outnumbered. They were so worried, so stressed out. They were getting their equipment on, trying to come up with some type of strategy to fight off the enemy. Just before they went to battle they decided to pray. God said to them, "Stand still and you will see the deliverance of the Lord. For the Lord will fight for you if you remain at rest".
Notice the condition. God will turn it around. God will restore you. God will vindicate you if you will be still and remain at rest. In other words, if you will wait for the set time, if you will be patient and not give birth to Ishmael's, then God has Isaac's in your future.
Now, some of you today are facing a big challenge. You can't sleep well at night. You're upset. You're frustrated. God is saying to you what he said to them, 'be still. I've got it all figured out. I control the whole universe. I've already set the time to deliver you. I've already set the time to not only bring you out but to bring you out better off than you were before".
Now do your part and rest. Trust God's timing. God knows what he is doing. We may not always understand why something is taking so long but sometimes God will delay an answer on purpose simply so he can show his power in a greater way.
When Pharaoh wouldn't let the Israelites go, God had Moses tell him that if Pharaoh didn't change his mind God was going to send plague after plague on Pharaoh and his people. The scripture says that, "God caused Pharaoh to harden his heart". Not the enemy. God caused him to be stubborn and not give in. Moses said, "Pharaoh, if you don't let us go, God is going to send locusts that are going to eat all your crops and destroy the food supply". Pharaoh said, "I don't care. Let him do it. I'm not changing my mind".
One bad plague after another and he wouldn't give in. Why? God wanted to show his power in a greater way. When all those plagues were harming Pharaoh and his people, the Israelites living in that same area, not one plague affected them.
Your situation may be taking longer than you thought. Maybe it's something more difficult than you've ever experienced. That doesn't mean that the enemy is getting the best of you. It doesn't mean that God went on vacation and is not concerned anymore. No, just like with Pharaoh, God has not turned it around yet because he wants to show his favor in your life in an amazing way. God is going to show his strength, his healing, his goodness, his power, like you've never seen before. You might as well get ready. When God brings you out everybody around you is going to have no doubt the God you serve is an awesome God.
Now my challenge: trust God's timing. Stand still and you'll see God deliver you. When you remain at rest almighty God will fight your battles. Friends, there are set times in your future. Now quit worrying about when it's going to happen. God can see the big picture. He knows what's best for you. Dare to say like David, "God, my times are in your hand".
When you do this it takes all the pressure off. You don't have to struggle and try to force things to happen. You know God has it all figured out. So you can relax and enjoy your life while you're waiting for the promises to come to pass. If you will enter into this rest, trusting God's timing, you won't give birth to ismael's. You'll give birth to Isaac's. Because you have faith and patience, I believe and declare, you're going to come in to set times of favor, set times of healing, set times of promotion, set times of breakthrough. God is going to give you the desires of your heart. Everything he has promised you will come to pass. In Jesus' name.