Joel Osteen — Hearing in the Spirit
I want to talk to you today about, "Hearing in your spirit". Just as we have physical ears, we have spiritual ears, and God doesn't speak to us out loud, normally, like we see in the movies. He speaks to us in our spirit.
Many times, he will speak things that contradict what we see with our eyes. Maybe you're facing an illness, doesn't seem like you'll ever get well. You'll hear a voice saying, "You're healthy, you're whole, you're strong". Or you're struggling in your finances. You can't seem to get ahead. You'll hear that voice saying, "You're blessed, you're prosperous, you have more than enough". It's just the opposite of what it looks like. But God calls you what you are before it happens. When you're sick, God calls you well. When you're addicted, God calls you free. When you're barren, you can't conceive, God calls you a mother.
In the scripture, Abraham didn't have any children yet God called him the father of many nations. Gideon was insecure, afraid. He said, "God, I can't lead the Israelites. I come from the poorest family". He saw himself as weak, unqualified, yet God called him a mighty hero. You will hear things in your spirit that don't make sense to your mind. You'll think, "I'm not free. I still have this addiction. I'm not blessed, Joel, I have all these problems".
Gideon said, "I'm not a mighty hero; I'm the least one in my father's house". Abraham said in effect, "I'm not a father of many nations; I don't have one child". But if you're going to see it come to pass, you have to believe what you hear in your spirit and not what you see with your eyes. You have to walk by faith and not by sight. Your circumstances may look like you'll never get well, never get out of debt, never meet the right person, but if you'll listen down in your spirit, you'll hear a voice saying, "Healing is coming. You will lend and not borrow. New doors are about to open. Favor is in your future". Don't let what you see with your eyes talk you out of what you've heard in your spirit.
God is saying to you what he said to Gideon: "You are a mighty hero. You're going to accomplish big things. You're going to go further than you've imagined". He's saying to you what he said to Abraham: "You're going to have those children. You're going to conceive. Your baby is on the way". He's saying to you what he said to David: "You're going to defeat that giant". Yes, that obstacle is big but you have greatness in you. You are anointed, equipped, empowered. He's saying to you what he said to my mother: "That cancer is not the end. That sickness is not your final story. Restoration is coming. Things are about to turn in your favor. Now quit being discouraged by what you see and start being encouraged by what you hear".
The scripture says the things we see are only temporary but what we hear, what God speaks to us, that's permanent. One translation says: "The things we see are subject to change". That sickness may look permanent. The truth is it's subject to change. One touch of God's favor, suddenly you'll be well. That addiction you've struggled with for years, looks like that's your destiny. Don't believe that lie; it's subject to change. You may feel like you're stuck, not getting good breaks, not seeing any growth. Stay in faith, it's subject to change. God has the final say. He said: "The path of the righteous, your path, is brighter and brighter". If you'll listen, you'll hear that voice saying, "New levels are coming. New opportunities, new relationships".
1 Kings chapter 18: there was a great drought. It hadn't rained in over three and a half years. The crops had dried up, the food supply was limited. People were worried. They didn't know what they were going to do. The prophet Elijah came along and told the king, "I hear the sound of an abundance of rain". There wasn't a cloud in the sky. Everywhere he looked it was dry, barren, no trees, no vegetation. It had been that way for years. I'm sure the king thought, "Elijah, this heat is getting to you. You're hearing things. There's no thunder, there's no sound of an abundance of rain. It's just the way it's always been".
But that's the way God is. In a drought, God will talk to you about rain. In lack, he'll talk to you about abundance. When you feel insignificant, like you could never make much out of your life, he'll talk to you about greatness. He'll put things in your spirit that seem impossible to accomplish. Or when you're lonely, you don't think you'll ever meet the right person, he'll talk to you about a divine connection. He speaks to your spirit about what's coming but very often it's just the opposite of what our circumstances look like. You heard abundance but all you can see is lack. You heard healing; all you can see is sickness. Or you heard new levels; all you can see is more of the same.
The question is whose report are you going to believe? What you saw with your eyes or the report of the Lord, what you heard in your spirit? Like Elijah, I hear the sound of breakthroughs, the sound of freedom, the sound of healing. I hear the sound of new levels, the sound of abundance. God is about to do a new thing. He's going to exceed your expectations. You may not see any sign of it. Everything looks the same; though, get ready, the rain is coming. What you heard is on the way. "Well, I heard in my spirit I'd start my own business, but all I see is this job I'm working at. I must have heard wrong".
Stay encouraged, it's coming. Your circumstances may say, "You've reached your limits. You've gone as far as you can. Just settle there". That's one report. If you believe that, you'll get stuck. But if you'll tune that out and believe the report of the Lord, believe what you hear down in your spirit, that will override what you hear in the natural. When you get in agreement with God, you will become what he says about you. Maybe you're facing an illness. God says, "By his stripes you are healed". Believe the report of the Lord and healing is coming. Are you struggling with an addiction? God says, "Whom the son sets free is free indeed". Believe his report and freedom is coming. What you hear will override what you see.
When Elijah heard the sound of an abundance of rain, the drought had been going on over three years, no sign of rain. He could have thought, "I'm keeping this to myself. I'm not going to tell anyone. They'll think I'm crazy". But Elijah had the boldness to announce what he heard. He went right to the king, said, "I hear the sound of an abundance of rain".
Here's the principle: it's not enough to just believe what you've heard. You need to announce it. If you're sick, tell someone, "I'm healthy, I'm whole, I will live and not die". They may look at you and think, "What do you mean? You saw the medical report. There's no sign of you getting better". When you announce it, it sets the miracle into motion. Your words have creative power and you give life to your faith by speaking it out. The scripture says: "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so". If you want to get well, say so. If you want to break that addiction, say so. If you want to accomplish your dreams, say so.
There may not be any sign of it but, like Elijah, you need to announce to people, "I'm blessed. I'm free. We're going to have this baby. We're going to move into that new house. Our son is going to do great things". Are you sure? I thought your son was off course. I thought he's running with the wrong crowd, getting into trouble. "Yes, but that's temporary. That's subject to change. That's what you see with your eyes but what I heard in my spirit is as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord". If you'll start announcing what you heard, not arrogantly, not like a know-it-all, but in humility, with a quiet confidence, that's your faith being released. That's what allows God to do great things.
I know this couple that tried for years to have a baby with no success. She went through all the fertility treatments. They did their best. The doctor finally told her there was no chance that she could conceive, and she was getting up there in age and I thought they had accepted that it wasn't going to work out that way. Maybe they would adopt or try another option. But this lady never changed her mind. She worked in our children's department. She was constantly telling us, "When I have my baby". Not if, but when. She acted like it was for sure, like it was already on the calendar.
I like to think of myself as a person of faith, somebody that will believe with you, but even I thought, "You're getting too old. It is not going to be possible". But just because people don't believe, or even your pastor doesn't believe, that doesn't mean it's not going to happen. The experts may say there's no way. Banks say you're not qualified. Friends say you'll never move into that house. Like Elijah, there may not be a cloud in the sky and yet you have the boldness to tell people that it's not only going to rain, but it's going to be an abundance of rain.
Don't be surprised if you have some naysayers. But you're not announcing it to get people to agree with you so they'll encourage you and, "Hey, let me believe with you as well". That's great when it happens but that's not the primary reason. You're announcing it to show God that you believe what you've heard and you're announcing it to show the enemy that all the forces of darkness are not going to talk you out of what God put in your heart. The enemy doesn't know your thoughts. He's not like God. God knows our thoughts before we think them, our words before we speak them. God is all-knowing. The enemy only knows what he hears you saying.
Be careful what you let come out of your mouth. "Well, I'll never get well. I've had this sickness forever. I can't accomplish my dreams. I'll never break this addiction". You're giving him way too much information. You're showing him your doubts, your fears, your weaknesses. But when he hears you saying, "I am blessed, I am healthy, I am strong. I hear the sound of abundance, the sound of favor, the sound of promotion," all he knows is you're on your way up. He cannot keep you from what God has in store.
Twenty years later, the doctors told this lady, "We've never seen this before but you are pregnant, not with one baby, you're pregnant with twins". Today, she has two healthy children. But I wonder what would have happened if she would have never announced it, she'd have gone around negative, "I'm too old. Never get any good breaks. I missed my opportunity". She probably wouldn't have seen those twins. But when you hear yourself saying, "I'm going to conceive my children. I am free from this addiction. My family is being restored". Those words go right back down into your own spirit and help you to stay encouraged.
But if all you hear is how bad the drought is and how it's never going to rain, that negative report is going to keep you from the abundance that belongs to you, and you need to start not only announcing what God put in your spirit but start thanking God for what you've heard. "Father, thank you that my baby is on the way. Thank you that I'm coming out of debt. Thank you that I'm free from this addiction. Thank you that new doors are opening in my career".
Elijah was on top of mount Carmel. He told his assistant to go look on the other side of the mountain to see if there was any sign of rain. The young man came back and said, "No, Elijah, there's not a cloud in the sky. It's perfectly clear, it's not going to rain". Elijah didn't get discouraged, he didn't think, "God, I must have heard you wrong". His attitude was, "I'm not moved by what you see. I know what I've heard," and when you know what you've heard, you won't be upset when circumstances don't line up. You won't get discouraged over a negative medical report. You won't give up on a dream because you've had some setbacks.
Like Elijah, you're not moved by what you see. You know what God has spoken to you. You've heard God is restoring health back into you. You've heard whatever you touch will prosper and succeed. You've heard the spouse is coming, the favor is coming, the rain is coming. But maybe today you're in a drought. It's barren, things haven't worked out. Yes, you can hear rain in your spirit but it's been a long time. There's no sign of it happening.
That's the real battle. Are you going to let what you see talk you out of what you've heard? Are you going to let circumstances, what people say, what hasn't worked out, convince you to settle where you are, give up on what you're believing for? No, get your passion back, stir your faith up. God did not create you to live in a drought, constantly struggling, stuck in one level. That is not your destiny. The rain is coming. Promotion is coming. Health is coming. The right people are coming. What you heard is on the way.
I can imagine this assistant thought, "Elijah must have missed it this time. He's performed some great miracles but there is no rain in sight. It is perfectly clear". I love what Elijah did. When the young man told him that it wasn't going to happen, instead of accepting it, he told him, "Go back and look again," and every time he came and said, "Still nothing, no rain," Elijah had him go back and look again and again and again. On the seventh time, the young man came and said, "This time I saw a small cloud starting to form".
Here's my point: Elijah was so convinced it was going to happen instead of changing his mind, instead of being talked out of it, he sent the young man back until he changed his mind. God will speak things to your spirit that contradict what you see with your eyes. Don't let people talk you out of it. Instead of you changing your mind, tell them, "Go back and look again".
At some point, they're going to see what God has spoken to you. But the people close to you, those you allow in your inner circle, they need to be for you. You can't afford to have doubters, naysayers, telling you that you can't get well, the problem's too big. You can't accomplish your dreams. Your destiny is too important to try to convince people what you've heard.
Elijah didn't debate with the young man. He didn't try to persuade him. He kept sending him away until he finally believed. If you're going to stay in faith, you may have to send some people away for a little while. You may have to distance yourself from that relative, that co-worker, that's always telling you what you can't become.
This is what my father did. He grew up very poor. His parents were cotton farmers and they lost everything during the great depression, barely had enough food to eat, and he dropped out of high school, didn't have any future to speak of, no sense of purpose. But at the age of 17, he gave his life to Christ, the first one in his family, and God put a dream in his heart to become a pastor. He believed one day, somehow, he could touch the world.
He told his parents that he was leaving the farm to go out and minister, and his parents were good people but their vision was limited. They said, "John, you better stay here on the farm with us. All you know how to do is pick cotton. You're going to get out there and fail". If he would have taken their advice, he would have missed his destiny. He knew what he heard. The problem was the people closest to him couldn't see it. He loved his parents, he always treated them with respect, but he didn't let them talk him out of what he had heard.
God will put things in your spirit that seem too big to accomplish, seems impossible. You don't have the resources, the connections, the influence. How could my father think he could touch the world from that limited environment? There was no sign of it, not a cloud in the sky, no people supporting him. But when you know what you've heard and you don't let people talk you out of it, God will open doors that no person can shut. God will make things happen that you could not make happen.
The real question is will you have the boldness to believe what you've heard even though the circumstances say it's not possible? You heard you're going to have a baby but the medical report says no way. You heard you're going to get your master's degree but no one in your family has attended college. You heard your business was going to take off but right now you can barely pay your bills. God puts things in our spirit as a seed. If we dismiss it, think, "No way, that'll never happen," then it won't take root.
But if you'll do like my father, like the lady with twins, like Elijah, and say, "God, I don't see a way but I know you wouldn't have put this in me if you didn't have a way so, Lord, I want to thank you that the rain is coming, the favor is coming, the healing is coming, that you're bringing the right people, causing things to fall into place. Lord, thank you that you're taking me where I could not go on my own". You don't have to figure out how it's going to happen. All you have to do is believe.
This assistant said, "I see a little cloud starting to form," and that little cloud turned into a big cloud and, before long, there was an abundance of rain. Elijah saw what he heard in his spirit, and you may not see how you can accomplish your dream or how you can get well, how you can break that addiction. You know what you've heard but there's no sign of it. All it takes is a little cloud, a little favor, one good break, one right person, one healing, and, like Elijah, suddenly you will see what you've heard.
My father saw God open door after door. He and my mother founded Lakewood and daddy was in the ministry for over 50 years, touching the world. When he would go back home, his parents were amazed. They couldn't believe the favor and influence that he had. They couldn't see it at the time. They didn't think it was in him. But when people are not for you, don't get discouraged. They may not celebrate you until after the abundance of rain. That's okay. The main thing is don't let their doubt keep you from what you've heard. Some of the things God puts in your spirit are not going to make sense to other people. You have to be willing to be misunderstood, to be talked about, even to be criticized.
God told Noah to build a huge boat because there was going to be a great flood. What's interesting is it had never rained up to that point. The earth was watered from the dew on the ground. People had never seen rain coming down from the sky, and here Noah was building this boat not by the ocean, not close to the shores where he could easily push it in. He built it out on dry ground, and it wasn't a little fishing boat. God had him build it 450 feet long, a football field and a half.
I can imagine people walking by, shaking their head, "Noah, you must have lost your mind, building a boat out here in the middle of nowhere. Have you been smoking some of these herbs out in the desert? This is far out". He was made fun of, ridiculed, talked about. It's not that different today. "You're telling me you're going to have a baby and it's been 20 years and the medical report says no way? You're telling me you're going to touch the world and you're a teenager on a farm with no money, no education, no support? You're telling me your child's going to do great things and he spends half the school year in detention? Joel, you're telling me the city is going to sell you the Compaq Center so you can have church in it"?
People may not understand. They may think you're far out, you're not accepting reality. In one sense, it's not their fault. They didn't hear what you've heard. Don't expect them to cheer you on. If you had to have them to fulfill your purpose, then they would agree with you. If they don't, then you don't need their support. You don't need their encouragement. Don't let them talk you out of what you've heard. The enemy will use people and sometimes people you love and respect to plant doubt and negativity. "Are you sure you're going to get that promotion? There are three more qualified people in front of you. I just don't see it. Maybe in five years". "Noah, are you sure it's going to rain, and, by the way, what's rain"? "And Noah, you're telling me, Noah, water is going to fall from the sky and flood the earth? Noah, you need to come back to reality. That's never happened before".
God is going to put things in your spirit that have never happened, things that your family have never seen, new levels, promotion, influence. You are coming into a time where you're going to see unprecedented favor, things bigger than you've imagined. But while you're believing for it, don't be surprised if you're misunderstood. Noah was the talk of the town. "Let's go see this crazy guy, out building a boat in the middle of nowhere". Noah didn't get offended. He knew they didn't hear what he heard.
Don't be upset by the naysayers, people that are not for you. They can't stop your destiny. Just keep announcing what you've heard and keep thanking God that it's on the way. You do this, I believe and declare what you've heard in your spirit is going to override what you see with your eyes. Like Noah, God's about to do something that you've never seen. You're coming in to an abundance of favor, an abundance of promotion, an abundance of creativity, an abundance of health, a new level of your destiny, in Jesus's name.