Joel Osteen — Your Seventh Year
I want to talk to you today about your seventh year. When we've struggled in an area for a long time it's easy to think, "This is the way it's always going to be. I'll always struggle in my finances. I never get any good breaks. My marriage will never improve. We just don't get along". Too often we see it as permanent.
People tell me, "Joel, I've always been negative. That's just who I am". They've convinced themselves that it's never going to change. The first place we lose the battle is in our own thinking. If you think it's permanent then it's permanent. If you think you've reached your limits then you have. If you think you'll never get well then you won't. You have to change your thinking. You need to see everything that's holding you back, every limitation, every addiction, every sickness, as only temporary. It didn't come to stay. It came to pass.
The moment you accept it as the norm, the moment you decide, "This is my lot in life," that's when it can take root and become a reality. A stronghold in your mind can keep you from your destiny. Some of you today, if you would just break out in your thinking you would see things begin to improve. You may have struggled in an area for 20 years. The medical report says, "Just learn to live with it". But there is another report. It says, "God is restoring health back unto you". It says, "The number of your days he will fulfill". Your attitude should be, "This sickness cannot stay in my body. It's on foreign territory. I am a temple of the Most High God".
In your career you may feel stuck. You haven't had a good break in a long time. You've gone as far as your education allows. It's easy to think, "I've reached my limits. This is as good as it gets". No, all through the day, "I'm not settling here. My greatest victories are still out in front of me". You have to stir up your faith. God is not limited by our education, by our nationality, by our background. He is limited by our thinking.
I'm asking you to stand against these lies of permanency, lies that say, "You'll never lose that weight. You'll never break that addiction. You'll never own your own house". When those thoughts come, dismiss them. Don't give them the time of day. God is saying, "It's not permanent; it's temporary. It didn't come to stay. It came to pass".
Deuteronomy 15 there was a law God gave Moses that said every seventh year you had to release any Hebrew slaves. If you were Hebrew and you owed a person money and you couldn't pay them then they could take you in as a slave and make you work full-time until you paid them back. But every seventh year, if you were a part of God's chosen people, you had a special advantage. You got released. No matter how much you still owed, no matter how in debt you were, in the seventh year you were set free. All the pain, struggling and suffering in one day was gone. This tells me God never intended his people to be a permanent slave to anything.
You may be in debt today but God did not intend that to last forever. You may be facing an illness but it is only temporary. You may be struggling with an addiction but it's not going to keep you in bondage. What I sense in my spirit is you're about to come in to one of your seventh years. The seventh year is when you break free from any limitation that is holding you back: sickness, addictions, debt, constantly struggling. It looked like it would never change. It looked permanent but then one touch of God's favor and it suddenly turns around. Suddenly you get a good break. Suddenly your health improves. Suddenly you meet the right person. Suddenly a dream comes to pass.
What happened? You came into a seventh year. Now quit telling yourself, "This sickness is permanent. I'll always struggle financially. I'll never break this addiction". No, you are a child of the Most High God. You have an advantage. Just like the Hebrews, God promised you're not going to be a permanent slave to anything. Now you've got to get in agreement with God and say, "Yes, I'm coming into my seventh year. It is my time to break free. Every chain has been loosed. Every stronghold has come down. I know I have been released into increase".
I talked to a gentleman in the lobby a couple of weeks ago. He was here in town for consultation at M. D. Anderson, our cancer hospital. For the last three years he has had a large tumor in his stomach area. He has gone through chemotherapy, radiation. Nothing affected it. For the last year, the doctors have been studying him trying to figure out what to do next.
About six months ago he came to a Lakewood service for the first time and had one of the prayer partners to pray over him. He went back to the hospital. They ran more tests. The doctor was very puzzled. For no apparent reason the tumor had started to shrink. It was about half of the original size. The man had not had any treatment in a couple of years. The doctor didn't understand it. He asked him, "What have you been doing differently"? The man said, "The only thing I've done differently is I've had some people pray over me". The doctor said, "You tell those people to keep praying because at this pace it's going to be totally gone in a few months' time".
What was that? A seventh year. It looked permanent. Chemotherapy couldn't stop it. Radiation couldn't contain it. But our God can do what medicine cannot do. He is not limited to the natural. He is a supernatural God. It doesn't matter how long it's been that way or how impossible it looks. When you come into your seventh year, all the forces of darkness cannot stop what God wants to do.
Is there something in your life you think is permanent? You'll never get well, never start that business, never get out of that legal problem. As far as you can see it is permanent. No, God is saying, "You need to get ready. You are coming in to your seventh year". The seventh year is a year of release, release from sickness, disease, chronic pain. Release from depression, worry anxiety. Release from bad habits, from addictions. It's not only a release from limitations it's a release into increase. God is about to release you into new opportunities, good breaks, new levels. He is going to release ideas, creativity, sales, contracts, business.
The seventh year is when you get released into overflow, into more than enough. It's when dreams come to pass. Now you have to receive this into your spirit today. It's easy to think, "Oh, Joel. This is never going to happen to me. I don't believe anything is going to change just because you're up there saying this. I don't believe I'm coming into my seventh year". Then this not for you; this is for believers. This is for people who know things have shifted in their favor. (applause) people that know every limitation is only temporary, people that know they're entering in to their seventh year.
In 2003, Lakewood signed a 60-year lease with the city of Houston for this facility, the former Compaq Center, where the rockets used to play basketball. We always wanted to own the facility but the lease was the best thing at the time. Seven years later, in 2010, the city was running low on tax revenue and decided to sell off some of their properties. They called and asked if we would be interested in purchasing the facility and of course we were but it depended on the price.
A facility like this, brand new, would cost $400 million dollars. The city ran their own independent appraisal. They got back with us and said, "We will sell it to you, not for $400 million, not $200, not $50, but for $7 and a half million dollars. Now we no longer lease. We own the property. But isn't this interesting? Our seventh year for $7 and a half million. Only God can do that.
Friends, there are some seventh years in your future. What you think could never happen. "Joel, I could never afford that property. I could never get well, Joel. The chemotherapy didn't work. I'll never meet the right person". No, you need to get ready. When you come into your seventh year God is going to do more than you can ask or think. He is going to exceed your expectations. It's going to be bigger, better, more rewarding than you thought possible. It may seem permanent now but when you come into the seventh year, God is going to release you from leasing into owning. Release you from debt into abundance. Release you from sickness into health. Release you from constantly struggling into an anointing of ease.
Now why don't you get up in the morning and dare to say, "God, I want to thank you that I'm coming into my seventh year. Lord, thank you that you are releasing me into the fullness of my destiny". When you believe, all things are possible.
I received a letter in the mail from a lady. She had been in an automobile accident and broken her neck. She lived in constant pain. She'd had several surgeries. For months her husband had stayed home to take care of her. She felt badly that he had missed so much work. She finally convinced him she was well enough to stay home alone.
One day she was in so much pain. She was so depressed she decided she was going to end her life. She couldn't walk on her own so she was going to crawl over to the corner where the gun rack was. Her husband was a big hunter and he had all these firearms. But when she got out of her chair she lost her balance, knocked over the end table and fell flat on her back and couldn't move. The remote control for the teLevision hit the floor and the batteries came out. When it did it changed the channel on the television from what she was watching and it just so happened to flip to a channel where I was speaking.
She said her first thought was, "Oh, great. I'm lying here dying. Now I've got to listen to this TV preacher to add to my misery". Well, that day I was talking about how God can turn any situation around, how he can take your darkest hour and turn it into your brightest hour. She began to feel a peace that she had never felt before. She said, "I was lying there. I couldn't move, couldn't open my eyes, but I felt tears of joy running down my cheeks".
Her husband came home a few hours later and she was sound asleep right there on the floor. Of course he was startled and alarmed, woke her up and said, "Honey, are you okay? It looks like you've had an accident". She smiled and said, 'it was no accident". That day was a turning point in her life. Hope began to fill her heart. A dream came back to life.
Today, she is not only free from pain but she can walk, she's healthy, whole; stronger than ever before. When it looked impossible, when all the odds were against her, when it seemed permanent, the Creator of the universe, the Most High God, the one who spoke the worlds into existence, the one who has you in the palm of his hand, he said, "Wait a minute. That's my child. That's my daughter. She has a special advantage. She is not going to be a permanent slave to anything. She is coming in to her seventh year".
Some of you, like her, you've lived with that sickness, that chronic pain long enough. You've put up with that depression, that dark cloud following you around long enough. You've struggled with the addiction long enough. God is saying, "This is your time. Today is your moment. Get ready for release. Get ready for a breakthrough. Get ready for healing. Get ready for increase. Get ready for your seventh year". How do you get ready? Start talking like it's going to happen. Start acting like it's going to happen. Start thinking like it's going to happen.
"Well, Joel. My arthritis has really been acting up. My diabetes is getting the best of me. My financial difficulties are really weighing me down". No, don't take ownership of those things. It's not your diabetes. It doesn't belong to you. It's not your arthritis. That's not a part of who you are. It may be there temporarily but that's not where it's staying. Don't give it a permanent address. In your mind don't let it move in and take up residency. You need to have one of those signs out that says, "No vacancy here".
The apostle Paul put it this way, "These light afflictions are for a moment". Now in your mind it may be big but by faith you need to see it as being light and see it as being temporary.
This is what Moses did. The Israelites had been in slavery for many years. It looked permanent, like it would never change. Moses had a son born. He named the boy Gershom. Names back in those days had a lot more significance than they do today. Gershom means, "I am an alien in a strange land". When Moses named his son he was making a declaration of faith. He was saying, "We're in slavery but slavery is not our norm. This is not our permanent address. We are foreigners in this land". Every time he said, "Good morning, Gershom," he was reminding himself, "This lack, this trouble, this slavery, is not our normal state".
When you're in tough times and it looks like you're never going to break out you've got to do like Moses. Remind yourself, "I won't be staying here long. I am a foreigner. I don't have citizenship here". You could say, "I am not a citizen of depression. I'm not a citizen of lack. I'm not a citizen of cancer. This disease is alien to me. It's not my norm. It may be where I am but it is not who I am. I am blessed. I am healthy. I am strong. I am victorious". Anything to the contrary you need to see as foreign; as temporary. It is not your permanent address.
In the scripture, king Hezekiah was very sick. The prophet Isaiah came to visit him to the palace and said, "I have a word from the Lord for you". I can imagine Hezekiah perked up and said, "Yes, what is it"? Isaiah said, "The word is, 'set your house in order. You will surely die.'" Not the word he was looking for. I'm sure Hezekiah thought, "Is there another prophet out there"? It looked permanent, like his days were over.
The prophet who spoke for God had just announced that his life was coming to an end. Hezekiah could have accepted it, thought, "Hey, it's my lot in life". But Hezekiah had a boldness. He had a radical faith. He chose to believe even when it looked impossible. The scripture says, "He turned his face to the wall and started praying". "God, I'm asking you to give me more years. God, I'm not finished. I've served you. My family has honored you. God, let me live longer". Before Isaiah could leave the palace grounds God spoke to him and said, "Go back and tell Hezekiah I'm going to give him fifteen more years".
Here's what I want you to see. Hezekiah's faith is what brought about his seventh year. Your faith is what causes God to move. "Well, Joel. I'm 65 years old. I've never had one of these seventh years". Are you releasing your faith? Are you thanking God that it's turning around? Are you declaring, "Where I am is not where I'm staying? This sickness is temporary. I'm coming out of debt. There are new levels in my future".
When you have this attitude of faith, speaking victory over your life, that's when the Creator of the universe can show up and do amazing things. Your faith can bring about your seventh year. What's interesting is when Hezekiah got the news that his life would be extended he didn't feel any better. He didn't look any different. Only thing that had changed was God had said that his life would be extended.
Here's the key; Hezekiah didn't wait for his health to turn around before he gave God praise. He didn't wait until he felt better before he started talking like he was going to live and thinking like he was well. "Well, Joel. When I see it I'll believe it". No, faith says, "You've got to believe it and then you'll see it". Like Isaiah, I've announced to you that you're coming into your seventh year.
Now you can look at the circumstances, study the financial report, see how you feel and think, "Hey, it doesn't look any different. I don't see a sign of anything changing. Joel, as soon as it starts to improve then I'll give God praise". No, your praise is what activates God's favor. When you have this boldness like Hezekiah and say, "God, I don't see how I could get well. The medical report doesn't look good. I don't see how I could meet the right person, how I'll ever own my own home, but God, I believe you have already made a way. I believe I'm stepping into a new season of favor. I believe I'm entering into my seventh year, that every limitation has been broken. So Lord, I just want to thank you for your goodness in my life".
When you talk like it's going to happen, act like it's going to happen and praise like it's going to happen that's when God says to the angels, "Hey, turn around and go back and tell them they're coming into their seventh year. I'm going to do what they're asking. I'm going to change what looked permanent". But a lot of times instead of taking our praise to God we're taking our problems to God. "God, I've had this addiction for 27 years. I don't think I'll ever break it. God, these children are getting on my nerves. You'd better keep me sane. God, I'm working two jobs. I still don't have enough. I don't understand it".
It's easy to turn prayer into a complaining session, but remember, God already knows your needs. You don't have to tell God everything that's wrong, what you don't like and how long it's been that way. It's much better to take your praise to God rather than your problems. Your financial situation may not look good but turn it around. "Lord, I want to thank you that you are supplying all of my needs. Thank you that you are Jehovah Jireh; the Lord my provider". You may not feel well but instead of complaining, "Lord, thank you that I'm getting healthier, stronger, better every day". Your son, your daughter, they're not doing right. "Lord, thank you that my children will fulfill their destinies". Praise gets God's attention, not complaining.
When Saul of Tarsus was blinded by that great light God spoke to Ananias to go pray for him. Well, Saul had been killing believers, having them put in prison. Ananias said in acts chapter nine, "Lord, I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm that he has done". Notice this phrase, "I've heard that he is killing people. I've heard that he is dangerous. I've heard that he doesn't like believers".
If you're always telling God what you've heard, then you're going to miss out on God's blessings. You'll get discouraged. Doubt will fill your mind. "God, the financial report says I'm never going to get ahead. God, my children are running with the wrong crowd".
No, here's a key; don't tell God what you've heard. God says you're the head and not the tail. Now don't tell him all the reasons why you're not. God says you will live and not die. "But God, the medical report says otherwise". No, quit telling God what you've heard. That's not doing you nor him any good. It's real simple. Don't take your problems to God. Take your praise to God. "Lord, I want to thank you today that with long life you will satisfy me". "And even though it looks permanent, Lord, I want to thank you that I'm coming into my seventh year, a year of release, a year of healing, a year of breakthroughs, a year of abundance".
Isaiah said, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me to announce freedom to the captives". He was saying in effect, "It may look permanent but I'm announcing your freedom. I'm announcing you're coming out of debt. I'm announcing that sickness is not going to defeat you. I'm announcing new levels are in your future". Then he took it one step further. He said, "I'm declaring the year of God's favor".
Notice this principle. He announced it, then he declared it. What if we would do the same thing? "I'm announcing today we're coming out of debt, struggle, not getting ahead. I'm declaring we're coming into increase, overflow; abundance. I'm declaring we will lend and not borrow. We will be able to give to every good work. I'm declaring we're blessed, prosperous and generous". Over our families, "I'm announcing, our children will not run with the wrong crowd, making poor choices, getting into trouble". "I'm declaring, as for me and my house we will serve the Lord". I'm declaring, "The seed of the righteous will be mighty in the land". or how about this? I'm announcing, "We will not live negative, depressed, worried, anxious, stressed out". "I'm declaring, we are happy, content, confident, secure, full of joy, loving our lives".
You've got to announce it and declare it by faith. Now, nothing you're saying may be true at the time. This is what faith is all about. God called Abraham a father of many nations before he had one child. It didn't make sense. It looked like God was mixed up. But the scripture says you have to call things that are not as if they already were.
Too often we're announcing and declaring the wrong things. "I've been single so long. I'll never meet the right person. Prices are so high. Government shutdown. I don't see how I'm ever going to make it". That's announcing defeat and declaring mediocrity. You've got to change what's coming out of your mouth.
Start announcing freedom from anything that is holding you back. Freedom from loneliness. Freedom from depression. Freedom from addictions. Freedom from constantly struggling. Dare to do like Isaiah and start boldly declaring, "God's favor is coming; breakthroughs, healing, victory". You are prophesying your future. You are setting the tone for your life with your words.
Some of you have struggled in an area for a long time but let me declare this over you. Receive this into your spirit. "It is not permanent. You are coming in to your seventh year. This is a new day. The tide of the battle has turned. Every chain has been loosed. Every stronghold has been shattered. Every limitation has been broken. You are breaking free into a new level. I believe and declare God is releasing you into increase. He is releasing you into opportunity, into favor, releasing you into healing, into breakthroughs. He is releasing you into the fullness of your destiny. In Jesus' name".