Joel Osteen — By This Time Next Year
I want to talk to you today about By This Time Next Year. We all face challenges that look permanent, like they'll never turn around, dreams and goals that seem like they're a long way off. It's easy to get discouraged and accept that it's never going to work out. But what you can't see is God is working behind the scenes. What he promised you, he still has every intention of bringing it to pass. Now, all the circumstances may say it's going to take years to get out of debt, years to meet the right person, but God is going to surprise you. It's going to happen sooner than it looks. There wasn't any sign of it. You weren't expecting it. Out of nowhere, your health improves, your business takes off, you break the addiction. Don't believe the lies that it's permanent. You may not see anything changing yet, stay in faith, you are closer than you think.
2 Kings chapter 4, there was a wealthy lady that lived in the town of Shunam. When the prophet Elisha came through, she would invite him to come to dinner with her and her husband. She could sense there was something special about Elisha. She told her husband, "He's a man of God. We need to take care of him". She had them build a room on top of her house, a guest suite, so Elisha could stay there when he was in town. She could have just kept inviting him to dinner, that would have been nice. She could have rented him a room at the local inn, that would have been kind. But this lady went to great lengths to take care of Elisha. He had this own room on top of her house, beautiful bed, windows, nice carpet on the ground.
One day Elisha was in town resting in that bed. He began to think about how kind the lady was and how she'd gone to great expense to make sure he was comfortable. She said to his assistant, "Go ask her what she wants me do for her". He asked. The lady said, "I don't need anything. We're blessed. We're healthy. Life is good". But Elisha was determined to do something. He said, "Well, go back and ask if she wants me to put in a good word for her to the commander of the army". He asked, came back, "Elisha, she said no to that too. She knows the king. She knows the commander. They're all friends". You would think Elisha would say, "All right, I tried my best. I'm glad this lady is blessed". But he didn't stop there. He asked his assistant, "What do you think I can do for her"? He said, "The only thing I can think of is she's never had children. She's been barren her whole life". Elisha said, "Go get her. I want to speak to her".
The lady came to the doorway. Elisha said, "By this time next year, you're going to be holding a son in your arms". She nearly passed out. That was her dream. She said, "Sir, please, don't lie to me like that. You know my husband is an old man. Even though she thought it was too good to be true, even though she didn't really believe, a year later, she gave birth to a healthy son. I could imagine that bed she built for the prophet now her little baby was in that bed. That extra room she added to take care of the man of God, she never dreamed one day her own child would be using that room.
When you give to take care of God's work, when you're generous with your tithes and offerings, like this lady, God will always take care of you. You cannot give God something without him giving you more back in return. This lady didn't need anything. She was blessed, happy, but God won't allow you to just be a giver. When you give, it will come back to you good measure, pressed down, running over. This lady had already accepted that she couldn't have children. It was too late. She had missed her window of opportunity, but God is not limited by the natural. He's a supernatural God. He can make things happen out of season. It may look like you could never have a baby, never accomplish a dream, never get out of debt.
God is saying to you what he said to her, "By this time next year, you're going to see things happen that you never dreamed would happen". The medical report may not look good, but God can do what medicine cannot do. By this time next year, you could be cancer free. You've been single a long time, get ready, by this time next year, you could be happily married. Business is slow, stay encouraged, by this time next year, you could be out of debt. "Not me, Joel, you should see my finances". You should see my God. One touch of his favor, one good break, one promotion, will put you into overflow.
When you hear this, it can sound too good to be true. That's the way this lady felt. She said in effect, "Elisha, don't get my hopes up. You know I've dreamed of having a baby". Her mind told her that it wasn't going to happen, but down in her spirit, something whispered, "This is for you. Receive it. Your baby is on the way". Your mind will tell you all the reasons why you won't get well and how you can't get out of debt, especially in a year. You kidding, it's gonna take you 30 years. Your mind may say no, but if you'll listen down in your spirit, you will hear that still, small voice saying, "Yes, it is on the way".
I talked to a lady that had a child born prematurely. Her son spent the first year of his life in the hospital. She has insurance but it didn't cover the full amount. The part she owed was $3 million, and she was grateful that her son was alive but she's a schoolteacher. It looked like she would be paying on that debt her whole life. Just recently, she received a letter from the hospital. The board of directors said, "We have decided to forgive your $3 million debt". Not only that, they refunded several years worth of payments that she had already made. But if that lady would have heard this message before she received the letter, she would have thought, "Joel, you have the wrong person. Me be out of debt in a year? That's not possible". But if she were here today, she would tell you God can do the impossible.
Just because you don't see a way, doesn't mean God doesn't have a way. It's because he's going to do it out of the ordinary, unusual, you didn't see it coming. Now, our part is to do like the lady in the scripture, be a giver, have a generous spirit. When you're always being a blessing, God will make sure that you're always blessed. I don't mean just with material things. God can give you what money cannot buy.
This lady in the scriptures, she had wealth, influence, she knew the right people, but she didn't have children. God said to her in effect, "I'm gonna give you something that you can't buy, here's a son". God can bring you a divine connection, somebody in your life to love. You can't buy that. God can give you peace in your mind where you can lay down at night and sleep well. You can't purchase that.
Perhaps you're fighting an illness. Every report says it's permanent, just learn to live with it. Receive this into your spirit, by this time next year, you're going to be healthy, whole, back on your feet, enjoying life. "Well Joel, how could that be possible? The medical report says there's no way". There's another report, God says he is restoring health back into you. He said the number of your days, he will fulfill.
Heard a story about a 12-year-old girl, she had a rare form of incurable cancer. Instead of going to school, playing with her friends, she spent her days in the hospital very sick. Didn't look like she would make it much longer. These researchers received approval to use an experimental drug. They'd never tried it on people. She took the treatment, after two months, the cancer started to shrink. Sixty months later, she was able to go back to school. Today at 14 against all odds, she is cancer free. But if you would have told this young lady in the hospital with terminal cancer that, "By this time next year, you're going to be back at school, no cancer, full of energy, enjoying life," she could have thought, "That's not possible. It's never happened with this type of cancer". But God has the final say.
What you think is permanent, your marriage is too far gone, you've had the addiction so long you could never break it, never get well, never meet the right person. God is saying, "By this time next year, it's going to happen". Dreams that look like they'll like a lifetime to accomplish, get ready, it's going to happen sooner than you think. Things are about to fall into place. The right people are going to find you. Good breaks are going to track you down. You wouldn't be hearing this if God wasn't about to do something amazing, something out of the ordinary.
When we were trying to find property to build a new sanctuary, the doors kept closing. Everything fell through and I didn't see any more options. I didn't think we could keep growing. We looked like we were stuck. We didn't have any more room. If you would have told me back then when I was so discouraged that by this time next year, we would have a building already built on the main freeway, one of the most recognized buildings in the city, the Compaq Center, I would have thought, there's no way. How could that happen? That was so far out of my thinking. But even though I couldn't fathom it, it didn't mean it didn't happen. Here we are today.
What am I saying? Some of these things, you may not be able to see it yet. It seems to far out, so unlikely but our God is so great, that doesn't mean it's going to keep him from doing it. Because you honor him, like this lady in the scripture, God is not only going to go more than you can imagine, but it's going to happen sooner than you think. It is not going to take your whole lifetime to accomplish the dream God put in your heart. By this time next year, you're going to be amazed at where you are.
If you would have told me when I was 22 years old and single, playing baseball every night, never really dated anyone that by that time next year, I would be engaged to a beautiful, talented, fun, hot, fine, good-looking girl named Victoria, I wouldn't have believed it. But that didn't stop God from doing it. Thirty-one years later, we're still married and I'm still just as good looking... I mean, she's still just as good looking. But God has some of these "By this time next year" lined up for you where you're gonna look back and say, "Wow, I never dreamed I'd have this position, never dreamed by children would be doing this great, never dreamed I could build that orphanage". Get ready for God to show out in your life.
Growing up, we knew this very successful businessman. He'd built his company into this global brand that was known all over the world. His name was the company's name. He was very well respected and influential but later in life, the economy went down and his business slowed. After years of being successful and seeing blessings, it looked like he would end his life having to close his business with his reputation tarnished. He was in his late 80s and owed millions of dollars in debt, didn't look like there was any way he could pay it.
At his lowest moment when it looked so impossible, he didn't think it'd ever work out, he received a phone call out of the blue. This man said, "We'd like to purchase your company. We'll pay off all the debt. We'll renovate all the facilities, and we'll keep your name to honor your legacy". That company spent over a hundred million dollars renovating their headquarters. Today that business is thriving more than ever. But if you would have told this man in the middle of the downturn when it seemed so impossible that "By this time next year, you will not only be out of debt but your business will be flourishing and your legacy will continue on," he couldn't have fathomed it. He never dreamed it would turn out that good. And some of these things that seemed so impossible, seemed so far out to you, like with him, by this time next year, you're going to be amazed. You couldn't have made it happen. It was the hand of God breathing on your life.
Think about Joseph, sitting in a prison betrayed by his brothers, falsely accused by the boss's wife, for 12 years, one bad break after another. There was nothing in his circumstances that looked like he would ever accomplish that dream of ruling a nation. It looked just the opposite. If Joseph would have turned on the television, he could have said, "Joel, I appreciate your encouragement, but I'm in prison, I'm a slave. I had no trial. I have no lawyer. I don't have anyone to stand up for me". He could have been discouraged. I believe deep down Joseph could hear this still, small voice saying, "This is not your destiny. Your time is coming".
One day the guard came over and told Joseph that the Pharaoh wanted to see him. Joseph went in and interpreted the Pharaoh's dream. He was so impressed, he made Joseph the prime minister of all of Egypt. You don't need everyone to be for you, you just need the right people to be for you. God has already lined up people in positions of influence that will open doors you couldn't open, bring you opportunities and promotion that you didn't see coming. You don't have to find them, like Joseph, they will find you. But if you told Joseph sitting in prison after 12 years of bad breaks, injustice, that by this time next year, he was gonna be second in command of the nation, instead of being in prison, he was going to be in charge, respected, admired, with people serving him, he could have thought, "Are you kidding? Do you see these bars I'm behind? Do you realize the boss's wife is against me"?
It's one thing to have a man against you, but when you have a lady mad at you, and she happens to be married to your boss, you are going to need a miracle. You may be in one of these situations where it seems unfair, like it's never going to turn around. God is saying, "By this time next year, it's going to change. By this time next year, you're going to be vindicated, promoted, in a position of honor". Why are you worrying? Why are you losing sleep? God is still on the throne. He hasn't forgotten about you. Your time is coming. This looks like a stumbling block that you can't get passed, the truth is it's a steppingstone that's about to take you to a new level of your destiny.
In the scripture, a man named Haman worked for the king of Persia. He had a very influential position, but he let it go to his head. People would bow down before him, everyone, that is, except Mordecai. Mordecai was a relative of queen Esther. They were Jews. He knew you only bowed down before God. This made Haman so upset that he went to the king and said, "There's this group of people that don't obey your commands. They're troublemakers and they need to be killed". The king issued a decree that on a certain date, you could wipe out all the Jews.
But one night this king couldn't sleep. He asked his assistant to bring him one of the books that had the city's history recorded in it. The assistant randomly grabbed a book and gave it to the king. The king opened to a random page and started reading. Just so happened it talked about a good deed that Mordecai had done for the city. The king was so impressed, the next morning, he called Haman in. Said, "Haman, what do think we should do for a man that's done a good deed and has never been recognized by the city"?
Well, Haman was so arrogant, he thought the king was talking about him so he played it up real big. He said, "King, I think we should put a royal robe on him, have a big parade, March him up and down the streets with someone shouting what a great man he is". The king said, "I love that idea. Now go find Mordecai and do just what you said". Queen Esther told the king what Haman was really trying to do. Instead of getting rid of all the hews, the king got rid of Haman. He reversed the decree and gave Mordecai Haman's position.
If you told Mordecai in the middle of the trouble when it looked like the Jews would be annihilated, that by this time next year, Haman is going to be gone, the king's decree is going to be reversed, and you're going to be in a position of honor, he could have thought, "That's too good to be true. How could all that possibly happen"? God has ways that we've never thought of. You may be in a difficult situation, people coming against you, finances don't look good, trouble in a relationship. You could be upset, worried, stay in peace. It is not permanent. Like with Mordecai, by this time next year, it's all going to be turned in your favor.
Because you honor God, he's dealing with those enemies. He's fighting your battles. Those people that are trying to stop you are not going to succeed. It looks like they have the upper hand, they have more authority, they may maybe over you, the good news is our God is over them. He controls the universe. Keep doing the right thing. Don't take matters into your own hands. Let God be your vindicator and by this time next year, the enemies you see today, you will see no more. By this time next year, what was meant for your harm will be turned to your advantage. "Now Joel, this is encouraging but I don't see how it can happen for me". Neither did Mordecai, neither did Joseph, neither did that 12-year-old girl. You don't have to see how, all you have to do is believe. When you believe, angels go to work. When you believe, forces of darkness are pushed back. When you believe, things begin to change in your favor.
I talked to a man that had been in prison since he was 17 years old. He was convicted of selling drugs and sentenced to 40 years. He'd been watching us in prison with the other inmates, and he'd given his life to Christ, and had a whole new outlook. One message I talked about, how God is going to do things sooner than expected. That took root down in his spirit. He started telling the other inmates he was going to get out soon. They looked at him like he wasn't all there. He had 25 more years left. Six months later, the warden called him in and said, "Because of good behavior, we're going to commute the rest of your sentence. You are free to go". Those other prisoners looked at him like, "Will you pray for us"?
He was released last week, the first place he came was to Lakewood. He flew here from another city. I met him afterwards. He had big tears running down his cheeks, so grateful, so overcome with emotion, he could hardly speak. Like with him, by this time next year, you're gonna see things happen that you never dreamed would happen. By this time next year, you're going to be at a new level in your health, in your finances, in your career. By this time next year, you're gonna be free from that addiction. God is up to something. He's about to show out in your life. "Well, Joel, you're just getting people's hopes up. I don't think this is going to happen for me". You're right, it's not going to happen. This is for people who believe. You have to let the seed take root. Here's the key, don't talk yourself out of it. Talk yourself into it.
2 Kings chapter 7, the syrian army had surrounded the city of Samaria and cut off the Israelites food supply. The people were desperate. It looked like it was the end. The prophet Elisha showed up and said to the Israelites, "By this time tomorrow, there will be so much food that you can buy bread for a penny a loaf". People looked at Elisha like he had lost his mind. They were surrounded, starving to death, seemed impossible. One of the main leaders said, "Elisha, even if God opened the windows of heaven, that still wouldn't happen".
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 walk down to the enemies' camp and see what they're doing". They started walking, God multiplied the sound of their footsteps. The enemy thought a huge army was attacking. They panicked and took off running for their lives. They left all of their food, their supplies, their gold, their silver. The lepers went back and told the Israelites, "Just like Elisha said, there was so much food, you could buy a loaf of bread for one penny".
"Joel, I thought you said by this time next year". Yes, but God has some of these by this time tomorrow. It may not take a full year. God knows how to accelerate things. It's going to happen sooner than you think. You are closer than it looks. All the circumstances may say, "It's impossible, could never get well that soon. My business could never turn around overnight. Joel, you know I can't break this addiction by tomorrow. It's gonna take years". You don't know what God is up to. You're looking at it in the natural, we serve a supernatural God. Don't be like that one leader and think all the reasons why it can't happen. Get in agreement with God. Believe something good is on the way. All through the day, thank him that he's working in your life. If you do this, I believe and declare like the lady with Elisha, by this time next year, you're going to have your baby. That dream is going to come to pass. That problem is going to be resolved. In Jesus's name.