Joel Osteen — Pulled Strings
I want to talk to you today about Pulled Strings. It's easy to go through life wondering how things are going to work out, hoping we make right decisions, stressed over our finances, or concerned about a child. But you don't have to worry about your future. Your life has been divinely orchestrated. God has determined the end from the beginning. He's already laid out your plan, drawn up your blueprint. He knows everything that's going to happen, and the scripture says God works all things according to his will. It's not according to who likes you, according to what family you come from, according to even how many mistakes you've made. It's according to his will.
He is working behind the scenes not only directing your steps, but he's directing the steps of the people you need. He's not just in control of you, he's in control of your circumstances. Nothing randomly happens. You're not at the mercy of bad breaks. You don't have to get upset because a door closed, give up on a dream because you went through a loss. God knew about it. He wouldn't have allowed it if it wasn't on your blueprint. We may not like it, we don't understand it, but God knows what he's doing. It's not keeping you from your purpose, it's leading you to your purpose, and sometimes, the reason God closes a door is because he's about to open a bigger door. Where we were was too small. We couldn't see it, we were happy. But God loves you too much to let you miss your destiny. His dream for your life is bigger than your own. That friend that left you, they didn't walk away on their own accord. God directed their steps. He moved them away because they were limiting your growth. They would have kept you from becoming who you were created to be.
When you know your life is divinely orchestrated, that nothing happens without God's permission, then you don't get discouraged when things don't go your way. You know God is at work, controlling, manipulating, arranging things according to his will. Now, this takes faith because we can't see the blueprint. We don't know what God is up to. His ways are not our ways. All we know is the door closed, it wasn't fair, it set us back. What we can't see is really it's setting us up for something better. Or we were going along, being our best, honoring God. Out of nowhere, a promotion, a good break, a contract that catapults us ahead.
We didn't see it coming, but God did. It was on the blueprint. You have no idea what God has in your future, the doors he's going to open, the people he's going to bring, the places he's going to take you, and it may seem like you've reached your limits, you could never accomplish a dream, never get out of debt, never meet the right person. You don't know what God is up to. If he showed you the blueprint, if you could see into your future, it would amaze you, and the good news is God is working it out. You don't have to do this just in your own strength, try to manipulate people, manipulate circumstances. You have someone manipulating things for you. It just so happens he controls the universe.
Why are you worrying? Why are you living stressed? The Most High God is directing your steps, moving the wrong people out of the way, lining up the breaks you need, turning negative situations around. You don't have to worry, it's on the blueprint. Jeremiah said God's plans for you are for good, to bring you to an expected end". You are not going to come to a random end. God is not up in the heavens thinking, "I wonder what's going to happen in their life"? God has already established your end. Your steps are being ordered. You are at the right place at the right time. Everything is on schedule. All the details are coming together, and things may have happened that you don't understand. Stay in faith, it's on the plans. It may not make sense now, but when it comes together, it will make sense. His plan is in process. You don't have to be frustrated because it's not happening fast enough, get upset because somebody did you wrong. The God who breathed life into you has not only established your end, but he is working all things according to his will.
When I was a little boy, my father would travel overseas for a couple of weeks at a time to minister. When he returned home, my siblings and I were always so excited to see him, not just because we missed him, but because he always brought us a gift, something from that country. One trip, he opened his suitcase and he handed me a puppet. It was a cowboy made out of wood, had two gloves where you could put your fingers, all these strings were attached to different parts of the puppet. I could move my little finger, made the puppet wave, or make another finger and cause him to shake his hand. Move them all together, make him run, make him dance, make him lie down.
I loved this puppet. I would put on puppet shows for my little sister. I was behind the curtain, hidden. All she could see was the puppet. She would laugh when the puppet danced and wave when the puppet waved. She was so engrossed in the show, she would forget I was pulling the strings, I was the one orchestrating his every move. In the same way, you're not doing life on your own. God is behind the scenes, pulling the strings, orchestrating your steps.
Sometimes we think we got to where we are by ourselves, our talent, our strength, our determination. We don't realize God has been pulling strings our whole life, bringing talent out, giving us ability, causing us to shine. When we were tired, he pulled a string and lifted us. When we felt like quitting, he pulled a string and caused us to try again. When we didn't have the training, he pulled a string and gave us the position, and when we're tempted to take the credit, think we did it on our own, it's good to look up and say, "Father, thank you for pulling strings. I realize you're giving me strength. You're making me dance. You're causing me to shine".
The great thing about God is he doesn't just have a string on you, he has a string on all of your circumstances. Like in a puppet show, there's a string on the curtain, a string on the door, a string on the table. The person running the show can control everything on the stage. That's the way it is with God. He has a string on all your props, a string on everything you need, and when it's your time to shine, God has a string on the curtain. He'll open that door and there you are. When he's ready for you to be promoted, he has a string on that promotion. He'll bring it to you. You're not feeling well, don't worry, God has a string on your healing. You've heard that phrase, "No strings attached"? With God, it's just the opposite. He has a string on everything on your stage.
How did you get to where you are? It's very simple, God pulled the strings. How did my father rise out of poverty, no future to speak of, very little education, yet he was able to leave that limited environment, go on to pastor great churches and live an abundant life? God pulled the strings. There was no way in the natural. All the odds were against him. But the one who controls your strings is not limited by the natural. He's supernatural. You can't see him. He's behind the scenes, but he's working all things according to his will.
When God is ready to promote you, he doesn't check with your boss. He doesn't get approval from your family. He doesn't take a vote from your critics. He simply pulls the strings. He controls what doors open. He controls what breaks come your way. Don't be discouraged by your boss, God has a string on your boss. Don't lose sleep over those people who are against you. God has a string on who's trying to stop you. When it's time, he'll pull that string, move them out of the way. You don't have to live stressed out because you have opposition and things haven't worked out. You're still connected. God has a string on you and everything that's affecting you.
The Psalmist said, "God's hand is outstretched toward you". When you're tempted to get discouraged, think it's never going to work out, just imagine God's hand outstretched above you, pulling strings, directing your steps, orchestrating your life. He not only has a string on you, he has a string on your finances. He has a string on your opportunities, on your house, on your health, on your family, on your promotion. Get ready, God is about to pull some strings. He's about to make things happen that you couldn't make happen. You didn't see it coming. The opposition was bigger, but God pulled a string and you came out with a victory.
The medical report didn't look good. God pulled a string, now you're healthy and whole. The school said they had no more funds. God pulled a string and you received a scholarship. You'd been lonely a long time, God pulled a string, brought a divine connection. The string puller is about to show out in your life. You're going to look back and say, like me, "How did I get up here? I didn't have the training, the experience. I wasn't next in line". God pulled my strings. He brought ability out of me that I didn't know I had. You see me up here speaking, moving my hands. I know it's the string puller, God working out his purpose.
How did I meet Victoria? God pulled some strings. When I needed a battery for my watch, I could have chosen any jewelry store. There are hundreds in Houston, but I just so happened to walk into her mother's jewelry store, and there was Victoria waiting for me with open arms. God pulled my string, but I had to help God pull her string. What am I saying? Nothing randomly happens. Your steps are being ordered.
I talked to a lady, her son was in a special program in high school that was a part of a very prestigious university. If he did well, there was a chance he would receive a scholarship. But his father came down with an illness. He was so distracted that his grades dropped, and he was normally an excellent student, at the top of his class, but now he was in danger of failing and having to leave the program. His mother knew it was because of the situation with his father, so she went to the school to explain what was going on, and she was very concerned about how they would respond.
They could have said, "We have rules. If he doesn't make the grades, too bad". But the man in charge was as kind as can be. He said, "We'll give your son free tutoring to help him get back on course". Should have cost thousands of dollars, but God pulled a string, caused that man to be good to them. The young man's grades came back up. He applied for college and was accepted into six universities. These were partial scholarships. He had not heard back from the school he really wanted to attend. Been so long, they thought that door had closed. But while he was making plans to attend another university, the main one emailed back and said that they were not only accepting him into their engineering school, that was his dream, but they were giving him a full scholarship.
God knows how to pull the strings. You may not see how it can happen. Don't get discouraged, the string puller is at work. He has a string on all the doors you need to be opened, a string on all the people that need to be good to you. He's working out his purpose. Live from a place of peace, a place of rest. You don't have to manipulate things. God is manipulating them for you. Our job is to trust him. "God, you're in control of my life. I know you're pulling the strings. You're opening doors no man can shut. You're bringing the right people, taking me to where I'm supposed to be".
"Well, Joel, I've had a lot of bad breaks, a lot of unfair situations. Haven't seen God pulling any strings for me". This is what happened with Job. He was doing the right thing, honoring God when the bottom fell out. He lost his health, lost his business, lost his family. Everything that could go wrong did. But life is not always fair, and on the way to our destiny, there will be twists and turns, things we don't understand. God doesn't send the trouble, but he allows things, and you may get thrown into the fiery furnace, but God controls the thermostat. He won't let it take your life before your time. He has a string on the trouble, a string on the opposition.
The scripture says Satan had to ask God for permission to test job. God told him yes, but he could only take it so far. This tells me God is not just in control of your life, he's in control of your enemies. Everything on your stage is on a string. Not just the good things, the promotion, the blessings, the favor, but even the sickness, the betrayal, the bad breaks. They don't have total access in your life. They can't do whatever they want. They couldn't even be on your stage without permission. In difficult times, you have to remind yourself God is still working all things according to his will. The enemy didn't come in and somehow get ahold of your strings. He didn't wrestle away control, and now God is on the sidelines watching what's happening. No, your steps are still being ordered.
And in the middle of this difficulty, Job said, "I know my redeemer lives". He could have been complaining. Instead, he was saying, "God, I know you're still on the throne. I know your hand is still outstretched toward me. I don't understand this, but I know you're still working all things according to your will". It's easy to give God thanks for pulling string when things are going our way. It's easy to have a good attitude. But the real test comes in these tough times, when it feels like God has forgotten about you. That's when you have to dig your heels in and do like Job, "I know my redeemer lives. I know this didn't come to stay, it came to pass".
When you stay in faith, God will not only pull your strings, but he'll pull the strings of that sickness, the strings of the opposition. He'll pull back what's hindering you. Nine months later, Job came out of that difficulty not beat up and bedraggled. He didn't even come out the same. He came out with twice what he had before. When it was all over, Job said, "I am convinced that nothing and no one can stop God's plan".
You may be in a difficult time, but if Job were here now, he would tell you stay in peace, nothing can stop God's plan. He has a string on you, a string on the sickness, a string on the opposition, and like with job, you're about to see God pull some strings. That sickness is about to turn around. That trouble at work is about to resolve in your favor. Those forces that are trying to stop you, I can see by faith God pulling them back and pulling healing to you, promotion to you, favor to you. Get ready for some pulled strings, things that you couldn't make happen. It's the outstretched hand of God working all things not according to your circumstances, but according to his will. His will is that you be healthy. His will is that you break the addiction. His will is you be free from the depression. His will is you rise higher, come out of debt, accomplish your dreams. What can stop our God? Do you think the trouble at work is bigger, the sickness is stronger, those people are more powerful? They are pawns in the hands of God. He has a string on them. That car that almost hit you, they swerved at the last moment, you don't know how they missed you, God pulled a string. He controls the universe.
Moses asked God his name. He said, "My name is I am". He was saying, "I am anything you need. I am protection. I am provision. I am healing. I am strength, I am favor, I am deliverance". Nothing can stand against our God. The most powerful force in the universe has a string on you. You are connected to the Creator. He's working out his purpose for your life. Quit worrying, thinking it's not going to happen, talking about how big the problem is. Start talking about how big your God is. When the thoughts say it's never going to work out, turn it around. "Father, I want to thank you that you're about to pull some strings in my life. Thank you that you're taking me where I could not go on my own".
"Well, Joel, I don't think it's going to happen for me. I've made too many mistakes. I've gotten way off course". Do you think your mistakes can override God's will, that what you've done can cancel your blueprint, that somehow you can disconnect from this string? I say this respectfully, you're not that powerful. Just ask Jonah. God told him to go to the city of Nineveh and minister. He didn't want to go there. He got on a boat going the other direction. A huge storm arose, he told the crew it was his fault. They threw him overboard. Should have been the end, but God had a string on a big fish. Just so happened the fish was waiting, swallowed Jonah. He spent three days in the belly of the fish, the bottom of the ocean. Third day, the fish came up, spit Jonah on dry ground.
First thing God said, "Jonah, go to Nineveh," gave him another chance. But I love that God not only had a string on Jonah, not only wouldn't let him go too far, but he had a string on the fish. God has a string on everything you need to fulfill your purpose. You may run, but you'll never get away from the string. It always pull you back. God will have somebody or someone to keep you from missing your destiny. Years later, Jesus said, "As Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days, so I will be in the heart of the earth for three days". Jonah was a foreshadow of Christ. He didn't stay in the fish two days or four days, but on the third day he went down right on schedule, he came up right on schedule.
What am I saying? Even when we make mistakes, God is still working all things according to his will. Maybe you have loved ones that are off course, children that aren't making good decisions. Don't worry, God has a string on them. He's not going to let them go too far. The scripture says God can turn the heart of a king. That means God knows how to change people's minds. He knows how to get their attention.
I talked to a man, he and his wife weren't getting along, and they had separated. He was living in an apartment by himself. Months had gone by and he'd hit rock bottom, didn't think he could go on. He'd just dropped his children off at school, and he had a long drive to work. Normally, he would listen to country music on Sirius XM, satellite radio. But that reminded him so much of what he and his wife did together, just made him more depressed.
So, this day, he tuned off the country station and was turning up to the channels in the 170s to listen to a ballgame, just take his mind off of it. But when his radio came across channel 128, our channel that plays our messages all day long, the radio got stuck. He pushed button after button after button, nothing would let it change. Turned the radio off, back on, tried everything. No matter what he did, he couldn't get it off of 128. He was so frustrated, he thought, "Who is this guy? I don't want to hear some minister". He started listening. I was talking about how God can restore things, how he has us in the palm of his hand, how our best days are still in front of us. He couldn't turn it off.
For the next hour, those words of faith breathed new life back into his spirit. At the end, he gave his life to Christ, it was a new beginning. He went back home, God began to restore his marriage. Today, he and his wife are back together. But that wasn't a coincidence, wasn't a lucky break. It was God pulling strings. God had a string on his radio, wouldn't let it change the channel. A string on him, pulling him back. He said, "Joel, I guess God was telling me, 'since you won't go to me, I'm going to come to you.'" Maybe you're hearing this because God has a string on you, he's pulling you back. It's not a coincidence. He's saying, "I have a plan for your life. I'm bigger than what you're facing. You've tried it on your own: come to me. I'll help you, I'll work it out". All you have to do is say, "God, my life is in your hands. I'm turning it over to you".
When you trust God with your future, he'll take you where you couldn't go on your own, and like this man, God is about to pull some strings. Things you've been trying to make happen, a loved one off course, they won't listen to you, don't worry, God has a string on them. He's about to pull them back. As for you and your house, you will serve the Lord. Doors you couldn't open, you tried, you did your best. Don't worry, God has a string on those doors, a string on your finances. He's about to bring promotion, opportunity, increase you didn't see coming. You're going to know it's the outstretched hand of God pulling strings.
Quit worrying, quit living stressed. God has a string on everything on your stage. Right now, he is working out his purpose for your life. Live from a place of rest knowing that your life has been divinely orchestrated. If you'll do this, I believe and declare like job, nothing or no one is going to stop your purpose, in Jesus's name.