Joel Osteen — Unprecedented Favor
I want to talk to you today about unprecedented favor. We've all seen God's favor in our life. Every one of us can say that God has been good to us. He has protected us, promoted us, opened up doors. That's God's favor. But I believe in the coming days God wants to show us unprecedented favor; that is, favor like we haven't seen before.
Paul said in Ephesians in the ages to come we would see "The immeasurable, unlimited, surpassing greatness of God's favor". What's interesting is Paul wrote this passage ages ago. We are living in the ages to come that Paul was talking about. He was saying, "I've seen limited power but you're going to see unlimited power. I've seen God do great things but you're going to see the surpassing greatness of God's goodness. You're going to see unprecedented favor".
The word "Unprecedented" means, "Unmatched, unparalleled, for the first time". In other words, you may have seen God's favor in the past but you need to get ready. You haven't seen anything yet. What God has in your future is going to be bigger, better, greater, unprecedented. He is going to show you his goodness in ways like you've never seen before. Now we have to get in agreement with God. Get up every morning and say, "Father, thank you for your unprecedented favor".
I've found there is a direct correlation between declaring favor and receiving favor. It's not enough to just think about it. Words give life to our faith. Something supernatural happens when you say, "I'm expecting unprecedented favor". A lot of people do just the opposite. They go through the day saying, "I never get any good breaks. I'll never get well. I'll never get out of debt". They don't realize with their words they are setting the limits for their life.
If you have a poor mouth you're going to have a poor life. Do yourself a favor. Zip up the defeat and start speaking victory. Zip up the, "Nothing good ever happens to me" and start declaring, "God's blessings are chasing me down". Zip up the, "I've reached my limits" and start declaring, "Unprecedented favor is coming my way".
Friends, if you're going to reach your highest potential you're going to need doors to open for you that you cannot open on your own. You're going to need promotion, good breaks, divine connections, favor greater than what you've seen in the past. If you will release your faith for this and believe that unprecedented favor is coming your way you will see God show up and do amazing things. He will take you higher than you thought possible.
God said here in Exodus, "I will perform great wonders that I have not done anywhere before in all the earth. People will see what great things I can do because I am going to do an awesome thing for you". Why don't you let that take root in your spirit? God is saying, "I'm going to do something awesome in your life". "Awesome" means, "Astounding, remarkable, overwhelming, breathtaking". Awesome is just the opposite of ordinary. In other words, God is going to do something not like you've seen before.
Maybe a couple of years ago God blessed you with a great promotion. You're happy. You're grateful. That's great. That's the way you should be. But if God did the same thing this year as he did in years past, sure, you would be grateful but it wouldn't necessarily be remarkable. You wouldn't be astounded. Why? Because you've seen it happen before.
When God says he is going to do something awesome he is talking about unprecedented favor. What God has in your future will supersede what you've seen in your past. God has favor that is unmatched, promotion that is unparalleled, good breaks that will be astounding, overwhelming, where you'll look back in amazement at what God has done.
I don't know about you but I'm expecting something awesome in my future. Yes, God has done great things in the past. God has blessed me, promoted me, given me favor. But deep down I know what's in my past is going to pale in comparison to what God is about to do. In your future is the surpassing greatness of God's power. It's unprecedented favor. Now get in agreement with God.
It talks about in the book of Psalms how the people limited the holy one of Israel. They limited God. In other words, God wanted to do something awesome in their lives. He wanted to take them into the Promised Land, a land greater than anything they had experienced. You remember when the spies came back from the Promised Land. They talked about how the fruits and vegetables were like nothing they had ever seen, bigger and better. That was God's dream, to do something awesome.
But their problem was they didn't believe. They didn't think they could defeat their enemies. They got negative, started complaining and they never did make it into the Promised Land. That tells me we can stop the awesome things God has in store. If we go around saying, "I've reached my limits. Nothing good happens to me. This problem is too big. I'll never accomplish my dreams," we are setting the limits for our life.
Many people have settled for mediocrity in their thinking. If you want to see God do amazing things you've got to get in agreement and say, "Yes, God. I believe something awesome is in my future".
Maybe you're single and you want to get married. Instead of saying, "I'll never meet the right person," why don't you start declaring, "God is bringing somebody awesome into my life". Not average. Not mediocre. Not, "He'll do". "She'll do". "I may not meet anybody else". No, don't settle for average when God has somebody awesome. God has somebody that will take your breath away, somebody that you cannot live without.
Victoria and I have been married going on 25 years. Every time I see her something still comes alive on the inside. When she walks in the room it brightens my day. A few months ago she was going to have to be gone for a week or so. And I don't like her to leave. She had to take care of some business. But I miss her. She left that Sunday after church.
Monday morning, first thing, she called and said, "Joel, it's not working out. I'm going to come home tonight". I said, "Thank you, Jesus. You're answering my prayers".
She didn't know I was praying that it wouldn't work out. But I know people after 25 years of marriage they're praying that their spouse will stay gone longer. No, not you. God has somebody awesome for you, somebody you'll enjoy spending your life with. Declare it every day, "Something awesome is coming my way".
I know a young man. He's got a beautiful family. He was working at this job, being his best each day, had a good attitude but there wasn't any room for growth, no opportunity for advancement. A friend told about a position opening up at his company. He read the qualifications. Although he didn't have the experience and all the education they wanted, he felt good about it and applied for the job. He went and interviewed. They said they would get back with him in a week.
A week went by and he didn't hear anything. The negative thoughts started coming. "You're not going to get it. You're not qualified. You're going to be stuck at that same position the rest of your life". His wife could tell something was bothering him. She said, "Honey, quit worrying about it. God is in control. It's in his hands and if he wants you to have the job you're going to get the job". You can tell they've been coming to Lakewood.
Instead of worrying about it, every day they started declaring Ephesians 3:20. "God, you said you would do exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond". They were speaking unprecedented favor, releasing their faith for God to do something awesome in their lives. Three weeks later the vice-president of operations of that new company called. When he applied, the starting salary listed was 10% more than he was making. But this vice-president not only offered him the job but said, "Your starting salary will be 30% more than we listed," which was 40% more than he was making right then. He said, "I tried to stay calm but I was jumping up and down on the inside". He was astounded, amazed.
That was remarkable. Unprecedented favor-God doing something awesome in his life. Listen, if God did it for him he could do it for you and me. That's what it says in exodus, "God wants to do something awesome, something that you have not seen before". Here's the good news; if you've seen it then you know what's in your future is going to be greater. God wants to do what you have not seen.
I think about this beautiful facility that God has blessed us with. We were amazed, overwhelmed, astounded. It was certainly God's favor. What's interesting is this victory, while we continue to celebrate and remember what God has done, this victory is in our past. God has promised what's in our future will be greater. That tells me we should never get satisfied.
Don't get complacent and put your faith on autopilot and say, "Oh, Joel. God's been good to me. I've had victories. I've been blessed. I'm just going to coast". No, keep your faith out there. God has something else in your future that's going to astound you. You think you've seen God's goodness but you need to get ready for something awesome. There is something astounding, something remarkable, something overwhelming that God has coming your way.
I talked to a lady last week after the service. She was in town for treatment at the cancer hospital. She was going to have to have a tumor removed from her abdomen and then take chemotherapy. All of her medical records, her charts, x-rays, blood work, they were sent from her hospital back at home. When she met with the new doctor here he wanted her to retake the tests and redo the x-rays, just to double-check and verify everything. She was happy to do that. She was already scheduled for surgery when this new doctor came in and said, "I'm not seeing on the new test what I've seen on the old tests. These new tests look perfectly normal".
On one test he could clearly see the tumor. On the other one there was no sign of a tumor. He said, "I know this sounds odd but I don't suggest we do anything. You look perfectly healthy to me".
That's God doing something astounding, something remarkable. She went back home and her doctor looked at those tests and he said, "I've been doing this for 26 years. I have never seen this happen before".
Well, you say, "Joel, she was probably just misdiagnosed. Probably nothing wrong with her in the first place". That may be what some people believe but I believe it was the surpassing greatness of our God. I believe it was God doing something awesome in her life.
I've learned some people are not going to believe no matter what. They're going to try to explain away every miracle. When God parted the Red Sea the people of Israel went through on dry ground. Some experts have said that during that time of year at that particular place in the sea it's possible that the water was only ten inches deep and the tides and the winds could have naturally parted the sea. But you think about it, that's even a greater miracle. That means that all of Pharaoh's army, grown men, they drowned in ten inches of water.
I don't know about you but I'm going to be a believer and not a doubter. I'm expecting God to do something awesome, something remarkable; something that we've never seen before. That's what Jesus said in John 14:12, "He that believes in me, the works that I do, will you do also. And greater works than these will you do". This is an amazing promise.
When Jesus was on the earth, he did all kinds of incredible miracles. He healed people, turned water into wine, multiplied food, raised the dead, cured the lepers, on and on. Yet Jesus said, "If you believe in me, I will show you greater works". In the old testament, God said, "Awesome things". In the new testament, Jesus says, "Greater things". Bottom line, they are both saying, "Get ready for unprecedented favor, favor like you've never seen before".
I have a friend that's a medical doctor. Years ago he was driving down the freeway late at night coming home. He came up on this accident. He stopped to help. Come to find out it was a fatality. The young man driving was on a stretcher. The paramedics had worked on him for a long time and given him CPR. They had IV's in him and right when he came up they were pulling the sheet over his head.
And since he was a doctor they allowed him to be there. He leaned over the body and just very quietly he began to pray for the young man, "God, give him another chance. God, let his life come back into him. Let his heart begin to work. Let his lungs kick in". For a couple of minutes, very quietly, he prayed the prayer of faith. He wasn't a minister. He wasn't trained in theology. He simply believed that with God all things are possible. He believed what Jesus said, that we could see the greater works.
While he was still praying, all of a sudden, the young man began to cough. The paramedics nearly passed out. In a few seconds he opened his eyes and not long after that he was able to sit up. Today, the young man is alive and healthy, totally recovered. But had my friend not believed that God can do astounding, remarkable, overwhelming things, I don't know if that young man would be alive today.
Friends, God is looking for someone to believe for the greater works, greater power, greater anointing, greater influence, greater victory. He's looking for somebody to take the limits off of him. Well, you say, "Joel, this sounds kind of far out today". Yes, but the God we serve is a far out God. You have no idea what he has planned for your life. God wants to do something awesome to show his greatness through you. It's not to bring us glory. It's to bring God glory. When you take the limits off of him and you believe for the greater works, you'll be amazed at what will happen.
This is what Joshua did in the scripture. One day he was fighting a great battle with all of his men. They were trying to finish off these enemies. It was getting late at night. The sun was starting to go down. Joshua knew if he didn't finish the job this enemy would reorganize and come back against him again. He needed more daylight.
A lot of people would have thought, "Well, too bad. It didn't work out. I needed more time but it just didn't happen". Not Joshua. He was bold. He looked up at the sun and said, "Sun, I want you to stand still. I need more daylight". The scripture says, "The sun stood still all because one man dared to believe". It goes on to say, "There had never been a day like that before. The people stood there in utter amazement".
I believe you and I are going to come into more of those days where we look up and say, "Wow! I have never seen anything like this before. I thought I was going to get a 10% raise and I got a 40% raise". "The medical report said I had cancer but the new test says I don't". "I prayed for a young man and life came back into him". You're going to look up in utter amazement and say, "Wow, God! You've done awesome things in my life today".
When Victoria and I first got married there was this town-home that we really wanted to buy but we couldn't quite afford it. It was a little out of our price range. It was owned by this large company. I was talking to my father about it one day. He said, "Joel, you need to offer them half of what they're asking". I said, "Daddy, I can't do that. I'd be embarrassed. I might insult them". He said, "Joel, you have not because you ask not. How are you going to know if you don't at least ask"?
We got our nerve up and decided to do it. Our realtor told the man in charge of the property that we were a young couple and we were just getting started out. We didn't mean to offend anyone but this is all we could offer for the property. He looked at it and immediately turned it down, didn't even think twice. Several months went by and we just kept thanking God that he was directing our steps and thanking him that we had his favor. We found some other places that we liked but we always came back to that first town-home. That's what we really wanted.
The last week of that year, out of the blue, the man in charge called our realtor and said, "Because of tax purposes we have to sell the property this week. And I have a higher offer but I'd really like to help that young couple you talked about. I'd like to sell it to them". What's funny, we didn't know the man. We had never met him before. Yet we bought that property for practically half of what it was really worth. That's one of those days Victoria and I stood there in utter amazement. We said, "Wow, God! We've never seen anything like this before". That's one of those awesome things that God had in our future.
When you realize that God has unprecedented favor for you and he wants to show you the greater works it will cause you to have a new boldness. Like Joshua, you will ask for things that you normally wouldn't ask for. Like that medical doctor, my friend, you'll pray even when it looks impossible. You'll believe for things that have never happened before.
I know this couple. They really wanted their young son to start school but his birthday missed the cutoff date by four days. He was going to have to wait a whole year just because he missed it by those four days. They knew that he was ready to learn. So they went and met with the school and asked if they would make an exception. The lady at registration was very kind and very polite. She said, "We'd love to help but we just cannot make any exceptions. He'll have to start next year".
They said, "That's fine but can we talk to your supervisor"? She referred them to the principal. The principal basically said the same thing, "We'd love to have your son but we cannot make an exception. He'll have to wait another year". They said, "That's fine but can we talk to your supervisor"? This went on for a period of three weeks. Every day they just kept declaring, "Father, thank you for your unprecedented favor. Thank you that you will do something that's never been done before".
They were able to meet with the superintendent of the whole district. He was kind but he said, "Rules are rules. We'd love to have your son but we cannot make an exception". They said, "Who do you report to"? He said, "I report to the owner". It was a group of private schools. They met with the owner, explained the situation. He didn't say yes or no. He just said, "I'll have to get back with you".
A month later they got a call from the first lady they met with, the lady that works in registration. She said, "I've been here fifteen years. I've never seen this happen before but we're going to make an exception and allow your child to start school this year". Unprecedented favor.
You may have situations that look impossible. It's never been done before. Don't get discouraged. Don't give up. God wants to do something awesome. Keep believing for unprecedented favor. Be bold and do like Joshua and start speaking favor to that situation. Every day, "Father, thank you that your favor is turning this around. Thank you that your favor is making a way even though I don't see a way. Lord, thank you that your favor is doing remarkable, astounding, overwhelming things". When you release your faith then like with Joshua you'll see God show up and do amazing things, things that you've never seen happen before.
This is what a mother did that we know. Her son got involved in an outlaw motorcycle gang. Got way, way off course. He was constantly in and out of jail. Year after year he continued to spiral downwards, breaking his mother's heart. She prayed. She believed. She did everything she could but nothing seemed to help. He got to the point where he practically lived stoned. He had all kinds of addictions. He was never in his right mind.
One day in his early twenties he was so depressed and so messed up in his mind he decided to end his life. A big bottle of pills he was going to take. He was standing in front of a mirror. He said, "When I looked at myself in that mirror I saw a dead man staring back at me". Just as he was about to take the pills something said so strongly, "Don't do it". There was a force holding him back. He could not take those pills. He didn't really know what he was doing but he thought, "If I'm going to kill myself I need to first go to church".
He got on his motorcycle and somehow ended up at Lakewood church on a Sunday morning. Walked in there totally stoned, never been there before, leather jacket, beard, tattoos, smelled like alcohol. This big, rough, tough looking biker. Well, the service had already started. The usher met him at the door. Back in those days the front rows were reserved for our prayer partners, for our volunteers. But for some reason this usher, in the middle of the service, brought him all the way down to the very front row and set him right dead center.
He was so stoned he didn't understand everything that was happening but he told how he felt a love that he had never felt before. He said, "Sitting in that service I could feel chains breaking off of me, my mind becoming clear. All of a sudden I felt a sense of purpose, a sense of destiny for my life".
After the service he walked out to his motorcycle in the old gravel parking lot. All by himself he knelt down and said, "God, I don't know if you really want me but that minister said you would take me just as I am so I'm giving my life to you". It just so happened that was mother's day. He went back home and called his mom. Said, "You'll never believe what happened. I just went to church and gave my life to Christ". His mom stood there in utter amazement. She said, "Wow, God! I've never seen anything like that before".
That day the addictions to drugs and alcohol were broken off of him. He got out of the outlaw motorcycle gang and he started a motorcycle ministry to help people that had been messed up like he was. It's called tribe of Judah motorcycle ministry. Our good friend, Ben Priest. For the last 30 years Ben has pastored a great church. He continues to go all over the world telling people what God has done for him. The scripture says, "Is there anything too hard for the Lord"?
Maybe you've been praying for a loved one for a long, long time. Maybe you've been believing for a situation to change for years and years. Don't get discouraged. God is going to finish what he started. He has something unmatched, unparalleled coming your way: favor, breakthroughs, restoration like you haven't seen before. God has been good to all of us in the past but I believe we're coming into the greater works, the greater anointing, the greater power, the greater victories.
Keep your faith out there. God has something astounding in your future. He is saying to you what he said to Moses, "I'm going to do something awesome, something that you have not seen before". Now let's stay in agreement with God. Let's get up every morning and say, "Father, thank you for your unprecedented favor. Thank you for the immeasurable, unlimited, surpassing greatness of your power". If you do that I believe you're going to come into more of those days where you stand there in utter amazement and say, "Wow, God! I've never seen anything like this before". What is that? Unprecedented favor is coming your way. I believe it and declare it for each one of you. In Jesus' name.