Joel Osteen — Sooner Than Expected
I want to talk to you today about sooner than expected. A few years ago, I ordered a pair of running shoes online. It said it was going to take 4 to 6 weeks for delivery. Normally, you can pay a little extra to have them delivered sooner, but that wasn't offered for this particular pair of shoes. There was a number, so I called and talked to the lady, and asked her if there was anything she could do to help me get them sooner. She put me on hold and came back in a couple minutes, said, "Sir, I'm sorry. I checked, but it's going to be at least 4 weeks, most likely 6 weeks".
I tried to use my charm to persuade her, said, "Are you sure there's nothing else you can do"? And she kind of perked up. She said, "Is your last name Osteen"? Said, "Oh Lord, thank you for your favor". I said, "Yes, ma'am, it sure is". She said, "That's funny, the lady that lives two doors down from me is an Osteen". I said, "Well, that's probably one of my relatives. Not many of us around". She said, "No offense, but I don't like her at all". Said, "Like I said, I'm sure we're not related". We laughed together and I hung up the phone.
That was on a Monday. I'd already made up my mind it was going to take 6 weeks, already accepted the fact that it wasn't going to happen any sooner. That's what all the circumstances said. That's what the experts had just told me. But 4 days later, Thursday afternoon, there was a knock on my door. It was the UPS man. He handed me a box. And I could tell they were shoes, but I thought, "These couldn't be mine. Must be Victoria's or our children". I opened that box and there were the shoes that I had ordered. There was no note, no explanation. They simply arrived sooner than expected.
In the same way, God has some deliveries for you that are going to come sooner than you think. Every circumstance may say it's going to take years to get out of debt, years to meet the right person, years to accomplish a goal. But get ready for some unexpected deliveries. God has favor, good breaks, healing, divine connections that are going to show up sooner than expected. And yes, I know, there are times that God does things slowly, little by little, over a period of years. But there are also times God will do things suddenly, unexpectedly, quicker than you thought.
You may have been told by the experts that it's going to take a long time to get well. You've done everything you can, tried your best, but now you've accepted the fact that it's going to be a long, drawn out process. No, get ready for a knock on the door. God has your healing already en-route. It's going to be there sooner than expected. Perhaps you've struggled with an addiction since high school. You've tried to break it, gone through treatment, not able to do it. Now, you think that's the way it's always going to be. No, get ready, freedom is coming. A breakthrough is on the way. It should take years, but God is speeding things up.
That's what it says in Jeremiah, "God will hasten his word to perform it". That means God will do it quicker, faster, sooner than you think. Acts chapter 12, King Herod had Peter arrested and put in prison. Herod didn't like the church. He was against believers. He had already had one of the disciples, Stephen, put to death. And it didn't look good for Peter. He was put in the deepest part of the prison, in the most secure area. On top of that, he was chained to two guards. The next day, he was going to be brought to trial.
There was a large group of believers that had gathered at Mary's house to pray for Peter. They knew this was a very serious situation. He was just a few hours away from possibly losing his life. But that night, an angel appeared unto him in the prison. The angel woke Peter up and said, "Peter, get up and come with me". At first, he thought it was a dream. Instantly, the chains fell off of him. They passed the first set of guards, then the second set of guards, and they came to this huge iron gate, a big structure. Looked impossible, no way to get around it, but the scripture says the gate opened on its own accord.
At that point, Peter realized that it wasn't a dream, it was really happening. He went straight to the house of Mary, where everybody was praying. He knocked on the door. A young lady named Rhoda answered him. When she heard Peter's voice, she was so amazed, so excited, she didn't even open the door. She ran back and told everyone, "Hey, Peter is out front. Our prayers have been answered".
They said, "Rhoda, Rhoda, calm down, girl. Peter is not out front. That's impossible. He's in prison in the dungeon, chained up. You must be seeing things". She said, "I'm telling you I heard it with my own ears. Peter is out front". The whole time, Peter was standing out there knocking and knocking, thinking, "Come on, man. I'm the answer to your prayer. At least let me in".
Here's my point. They were praying for Peter's release, but they almost couldn't believe it because it happened sooner than expected. That was one of those deliveries they didn't see coming. All the circumstances said if he did ever get out, if some way he was ever freed, it would take months, possibly even years. But can I tell you God has some unexpected deliveries coming your way? He knows how to do it faster than you think.
And some of the things you've been praying about, you think it's going to take years and years. No, just like with these people, God is going to do it suddenly, unexpectedly, quicker than you thought. You're still praying about it, and the answer comes knocking at the door. While you're praying for your healing, healing is already en-route. You're praying for the breakthrough, and the angel has already loosed the chains. You're praying for the child that's off-course. God has already set the miracle into motion. You're going to hear a knock on your door sooner than expected.
Now, don't talk yourself out of it. Don't do like they did, "Oh, that's impossible. Have you seen my circumstances? Have you looked at my bank account? Have you heard what the specialists say about my health situation"? No, just like with my running shoes, the delivery is already en route. The scripture says the moment you prayed, the tide of the battle began to turn. God set the miracle into motion. Every circumstance may say you'll never get free, never get well, never accomplish a dream. But know this. Chains have already been loosed. The right people are already headed your way. Favor, healing, vindication is about to come knocking at your door.
In this year of acceleration, you're going to see doors open of their own accord, things that you couldn't make happen. You didn't have the talent, the funding, the connections. God will supernaturally make happen breaks that you didn't deserve, favor chasing you down, unexpected deliveries.
Like Peter, you may have obstacles that look insurmountable, problems that look too big, sickness, family difficulties, depression. God is going to do for you what he did for him. He's going to supernaturally open those iron gates and bring you into freedom. Suddenly, things are going to fall into place. You're going to be so amazed, thinking, "I never thought it would happen this fast. I was just praying and the answer showed up. I was just dreaming about it and the door supernaturally opened. I was just honoring God, being my best, and the blessing chased me down".
Really, that's what this facility is. Twice we tried to buy property to build a new auditorium. We needed a larger sanctuary, but both times that property was sold out from under us. And we had looked everywhere. There were no more large tracts of land in close like we needed, and it looked like that dream had come to a dead end. But one day, unexpectedly, out of the blue, an old friend called me. Hadn't spoken to him in a long time. He asked me to have lunch. He told how the rockets basketball team was moving out of this building, and the city was going to want to sell it.
I didn't go after it: it came after me. It would have taken us many years to build a building from scratch, but God said, "I'll give you one that's already built on the most prime real estate in all of Houston, on the second busiest freeway in the nation". Here's what I'm saying. When it looked impossible, I thought it was never going to happen. The delivery was already en route. The building was already on the way. I couldn't have made it happen. That was the hand of God causing it to fall into place. It's what the scripture says, doors are going to open of their own accord.
May look like you've come to a dead end in your dreams, a dead end in your health, a dead end in a relationship. Every voice says it's never going to happen. But there are some doors that God has already ordained for you. They're going to open of their own accord. You couldn't make it happen. It's simply the goodness of God. You're going to see, I believe, some of these doors open sooner than expected. Everything in the natural says it's going to be years and years. God is saying it's already en route. It's closer than you think.
I received an email from a young lady named Sasha. She and her husband had three children when she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. They soon realized this little girl wasn't developing like the other children. For several years, she didn't speak. Other than an occasional "Mommy," she wouldn't talk. She was so frustrated by it, she would go around biting her hair and just making some grunting sounds. And Sasha thought maybe it was some kind of autism, took her to different specialists, but they couldn't figure out what it was.
And at four and a half years of age, she had to have her speech tested to get into preschool. She was told that she spoke at a 12-month-old baby level, basically didn't speak. They enrolled her in that preschool in August of that year. Two days a week, she would go to special education for speech. Months went by and didn't look like it was doing any good. She wasn't getting any better. But Sasha and her whole family, they would watch our services on television each week.
And even as a little girl, she would hear me talking about how you're a child of the Most High God, and how you can do all things through Christ, how you've been equipped and empowered. In December of that same year, suddenly she started speaking. Four months later, she took another speech test and passed it with flying colors. She was told she didn't need any more speech lessons, that her speech was perfectly normal.
Today, she's an excellent student. She speaks as clearly as can be. Sasha says sometimes, she'll go around the house saying, "This is my Bible. I am what it says I am". There's little Hokelini right there on the front row with her mother, Sasha, as well, a child of the most high God, her dad, family behind her. That was one of those unexpected deliveries. Looked like it was going to take years, but it was already en route. It happened sooner than they thought.
Sasha told me when her daughter couldn't speak well, she just kept thanking God that the answer was on the way. She kept praise music going throughout her house all through the day. She was always feeding her inner man faith, hope, expectancy, keeping herself encouraged and built up. It's so important in those tough times to not dwell on all the negative thoughts. "Well, it's never going to happen, never get better. She'll never talk. You'll never get well". No, turn it around. "Father, I want to thank you that the miracle is already in motion. Thank you, Lord, that the delivery is already en route. I may not see how it can happen, but God, I know you can cause doors to open on their own accord". Stay in faith. You're going to see times where it happens sooner than expected.
This is what David did. He had just gone through the worst defeat of his life. While he and his 600 men were out protecting the borders of Israel, his home city was attacked and burned. They kidnapped all their wives and children. And when they returned home and saw the smoke billowing from the air, and all the destruction, they were so devastated, so heartbroken, all they could do was sit there, and weep and weep. It looked like it was over.
But instead of staying defeated, David said to his men, "Get up. We're going to go attack the enemy". And they went out and not only defeated that enemy, they got their wives back, their children back, all their possessions. The scripture says they recovered everything that had been stolen. That in itself was a great victory. But what's even more significant is that same day, king Saul was killed in a battle, and David took the throne. This all happened 3 days after David's greatest defeat. Three days from his darkest hour, he was put on the throne of Israel.
I'm sure if you would have asked David 3 days earlier, when he was sitting in the ruins of his city, depressed and discouraged, if he thought in a few hours he would be taking the throne, he would have said, "Are you kidding? This is the worst time of my life". Every circumstance said it was a long way off, that his best days were behind him. But what David couldn't see was that was all a part of God's plan. That setback was really a setup to move him into his destiny. It looked like that defeat could be a big delay, maybe even keep him from the throne. In reality, it was just the opposite. It was instrumental in putting him on the throne.
But there was a key to all of this happening. If David would have sat there in self-pity, bitter, "God, why did you let this happen? I was out doing the right thing," if he would have stayed negative, defeated, he could have missed his destiny. In those difficult times, things you don't understand, it's easy to get discouraged, bitter. But remember, like David, you could be just 72 hours from your greatest victory. You could be just a few days from seeing God shine out in your life in ways you've never seen.
"Well, Joel, it's going to take me years to get out of this mess, years to recover from this bad break, years to get over this illness". No, God is going to do for you what he did for David. It's going to happen sooner than you expected. That setback is not a surprise to God. He's already dispatched the angel with the answer. It's already en route. It may be dark right now, but one day, you're going to say, like David, "Wow, God. I never dreamed it would turn around this fast".
That's what happened with us concerning this building. When that property was sold out from under us the second time, I thought, "Wow, that is too bad. We'll never be able to build a new sanctuary". I didn't realize I had to go through that disappointment before I could get to what God really wanted us to have. Once that door closed, it was just a few months before the Compaq Center door opened up.
And some of the things that you could be discouraged by, the bad break, the disappointment, the loss, looks like a dead end, like it's going to hold you back, in reality, that setback is going to propel you into the next level of your destiny. And if you will stay in faith, you will see some of these unexpected deliveries. God will cause doors to open on their own accord. He'll make things happen that you could not make happen, suddenly, unexpectedly, quicker than you thought.
I talked to a young couple out in the lobby. They'd been trying to have a baby for 6 years. This young lady had gone through several miscarriages. And, for some reason, she couldn't carry a child. She'd been through different specialists and done everything they could medically speaking with no success. Years earlier, her sister had a dream where she saw this young lady and her husband with the most beautiful blond-haired, blue-eyed baby boy that you could imagine. And they had talked a couple of times about possibly adopting a child, but they thought that was way off in the distance.
One Sunday morning, they were here at the service. I was talking about how everything that has our name on it is coming in. I said the health that has your name on it is coming in, the business is coming in. I specifically mentioned the baby that has your name on it is coming in. When they heard that, something ignited on the inside. They knew that was for them. They left the service. At lunch, about 4 hours later, unexpectedly they received a phone call asking if they'd be interesting in adopting a baby that was going to be born in a few months. Eight weeks later, they were in the delivery room when their little boy was born. Just so happened he had blond hair, blue eyes, like the sister had seen in the dream.
But sitting in church that Sunday, they never dreamed in a couple of days they would have their baby boy. That was an unexpected delivery. It happened sooner than they thought. What you've been dreaming about, what you've been praying for may look like it's a long way off. But just like with this couple, God has already put it en route. It's already headed your way. You are close to your breakthrough, close to your healing, close to the promotion. It has your name on it. Keep honoring God. It's going to show up sooner than expected.
John chapter 4, this Government official came to see Jesus. His little son was very sick and close to death. He had traveled a day's journey to get to Galilee. He asked Jesus if he would pray for his son. Jesus looked at him and said, "You can go back home. Your son will live". Jesus didn't pray, didn't take any time. He just declared that healing was coming.
This man could have been a little offended, thinking, "Wow, I came all this way, didn't even take time to pray". No, his attitude was, "If he says my son is going to live, if he says healing is on the way, then I believe healing is on the way". He turned around, went right back home. When he got close, one of his assistants came running out, saying, "Good news, your little boy is well". He was so relieved, so grateful, he asked what time everything started to change. They said, "This all happened yesterday about 1 o'clock in the afternoon". That was the exact time Jesus told him that his little boy would live.
Just like with this man, there are promises God has spoken to you, things that he's put in your heart that you know are going to happen: dreams, goals, divine connections, turnarounds. The moment God spoke it, he released it. It's already in your future. It's just a matter of time before you walk into it. When Jesus told this man, "Your little boy will live," the scripture says he took Jesus at his word and departed. Walking back home, he could have thought, "I don't think it's going to happen. He didn't even pray. I think I'm wasting my time". That would have stopped the miracle.
You have to do like this man, take God at his word. Make a decision you're not going to go around worried, doubting, discouraged, thinking it's never going to happen. No, stay in faith, knowing that what God promised you has already been released. It's already en route, headed your way.
We see this principle with Daniel. One time in the scripture, he prayed. Twenty-one days later, the angel came with the answer to the prayer. He asked the angel, "What took you so long"? The angel said, "Daniel, the moment you prayed, God dispatched me with the answer, but it took 3 weeks for me to fight through the forces of darkness".
Just like with Daniel, the moment you prayed, God released the healing, he released the promotion. It's already en route. Now, do your part all through the day. "Lord, thank you that it's on the way. Lord, I know you're a faithful God. I know you will hasten your word to perform it. Lord, I believe that it will happen even sooner than expected".
2 kings chapter 7, there was a great famine in the city of Samaria. Food was so scarce that it cost 100 times what it normally would. On top of that, a huge army had surrounded the city and cut off the food supply. They were waiting for the Israelites to starve to death, then they were going to go in, take their belongings. The prophet Elisha showed up and said, "By this time tomorrow, there will be so much food, you'll be able to buy a loaf of bread for one penny". God was saying things are about to turn around, and it's going to happen faster than you think. Overnight, in 24 hours, there's going to be abundance.
The officer assisting the king said, "Elisha, have you lost your mind? Have you watched the news lately? Have you seen the stock reports? We are surrounded by a big army. We're in the middle of a famine". Instead of taking God at his word like the first government official, he did just the opposite. There were four lepers sitting outside the city gates of Samaria. They thought, "We have nothing to lose. We're going to die anyway. Let's go down to the enemy's camp and see what's going on".
As they were walking, God multiplied the sound of their footsteps, caused it to sound like a huge army was attacking. Their enemies got so afraid, they took off running, left all their food, all their treasures, a whole camp filled with supplies. The lepers went back, told the Israelites, "Come with us. There's more than enough". Just like God promised, there was so much food, so many supplies, you could buy a loaf of bread for one penny. It happened suddenly. It happened overnight.
It may look like your situation is going to take years to turn around, years to get well, years to get out of debt, no way in the natural. The good news, we serve a supernatural God. He's saying it's going to happen suddenly, unexpectedly, quicker than you thought. God has ways to turn it around that you've never thought of. He specializes in unexpected deliveries. David never thought, sitting in his darkest hour, that he was only 3 days from the throne. These people never thought, in their greatest need, they were one day from abundance. God did it for them; he can do it for you. And I believe you're about to see some of those blessings that have already been en route.
Like Daniel, the moment you prayed, God released it. You're about to see the healing, the promotion, the breakthrough. Do like this government official. Take God at his word. Keep thanking him that the answer is on the way. Keep thanking him for unexpected deliveries. If you'll do this, I believe and declare God is going to hasten his word to perform it. Like these people, you're going to see some overnight turnarounds. Like David, you're going to see some 72-hour breakthroughs. Get ready, it's going to happen sooner than expected. In Jesus' name.