Joel Osteen - It's Payback Time
I want to talk to you today about "It's payback time". We all go through unfair situations. We were overlooked for a promotion, or came down with an illness, or somebody walked out of a relationship. It's easy to get discouraged and think, "That's just life. A bad break, nothing I can do about it". You may not be able to, but God can. He's a God of justice. He has seen everything you've been through, every person that did you wrong, every lonely night, every tear.
He said in Hebrews, "I will repay the exact compensation owed you". It may not have been fair, but don't worry, payback is coming. God is going to make up for the wrongs that were done to you. Those people that put you at a disadvantage, don't live bitter, thinking you have to get even. It's not your battle, the battle is the Lord's. He knows what you're owed, he's keeping the records, and he'll not only take care of the opposition, he'll make it up to you.
Well, you may have been raised in an unhealthy environment, nobody was there to make you feel encouraged, loved, and valuable. It seems like that set you back, but people don't determine your destiny. What you didn't get, who wasn't there for you is not going to keep you from your purpose. God sees how you were treated, and he's saying, "Payback is coming". He's going to show you favor because of what happened. The enemy meant it to stop you, God's going to use it to increase you. He's going to open new doors, bring opportunity, joy, fulfillment that you wouldn't have seen if that had not happened. Instead of being discouraged, turn it around. "Father, thank you that payback is coming. I know you're on the throne, you're fighting my battles, you're my vindicator". Because you honor God, because you're keeping him first place, you have an advantage, you're on his payroll.
Now, quit living worried, thinking you're falling behind. Those people at work left you out, now you could never get to where you want to be. God is in control. One touch of his favor will catapult you ahead. He knows how to move the wrong people out of the way. They may be stopping you now, but they're not going to stop you your whole life, why? Payback is coming. Keep doing the right thing when the wrong thing is happening. You are not working unto people, you are working unto God.
When you know you're on his payroll, you don't get upset when unfair things happen, discouraged because somebody is treating you badly, or give up on a dream because you had a disappointment. You know payback is coming, and here's what I've learned, nobody can pay you back like God can pay you back. Just ask the Israelites. They had been in slavery for 430 years, one generation after another mistreated, forced to work long hours, given quotas that were impossible to meet. I'm sure they thought that was their destiny, that's the way it'd be for their children, their grandchildren, it was just bad luck. They were born at the wrong time, born into hardship.
Things may not change overnight, but if you'll stay in faith, there will come a point where God will say, "Enough is enough. It's payback time". He's going to turn things around, not just bring you out, he'll pay you back for the injustice. He's going to pay you back for an unfair childhood. He's going to pay you back for the promotion that should've been yours, or pay you back from those people that tried to damage your reputation. God said, "I have seen the afflictions of my people, I have heard their cries, and I am coming down to deliver them," and you may have been in a difficulty for a long time. God is saying to you what he said to them, "I am coming down to do something about it".
This is a new day. What has hindered you in the past, the sickness, the betrayal, the people that did you wrong, that is not permanent. Payback is coming, healing is coming, vindication is coming, promotion is coming, new relationships are coming. You were not created to go through life lonely. That person that left you, that didn't recognize your value, that maybe told you you're not smart enough, good enough, attractive enough, don't believe those lies. You've been made in the image of Almighty God. He calls you a masterpiece, he's crowned you with favor. He moved that person away so he could bring someone that recognizes who you are, someone that celebrates you, that cherishes you, that can't wait to be with you.
When God pays you back, it's going to exceed your expectations. You're going to think, "I never dreamed life could be this great. Never dreamed I could feel this good. Never dreamed I'd be this blessed, this happy, this fulfilled". That's the God who pays you back. Now, I believe you are closer than you think. Things are about to shift in your favor. People that are against you are suddenly going to shift and be for you. They don't even understand why, they can't explain it, and they didn't have a choice. It's God causing them to be good to you.
That sickness looks permanent, the medical report says learn to live with it. No, get ready, it's about to shift. Healing is coming, wholeness is coming. That struggle, the lack, not able to get ahead, maybe you can look back, it's been in your family line for generations. Nobody's been able to break out. Get ready, you're the one. A shift is coming. Ideas, creativity, promotion, contracts, real estate, it's going to come into your hands. That's God paying you back.
Well, some of this payback is from what your forefathers worked for and didn't receive. They weren't treated right. They weren't respected, given what they deserved, but God has all the records. He knows what your family is owed. You're going to come into generational payback, blessings that have been accruing in your family's account. God has not forgotten about your great grandparents that honored him, people in your family line that did the right thing but didn't get what they deserved. Part of this payback is houses that you didn't build, favor that you didn't work for, promotions when you didn't have the qualifications. He's a God of justice. He's going to pay you back.
Moses went to the Pharaoh and told him that God said to let the Israelites go. But he wouldn't listen to Moses, so God sent plague after plague on Pharaoh and his people. He finally changed his mind. As the Israelites left, some 2 million people, I'm sure they were excited, singing, dancing. This was a dream come true. After generations, they weren't going to have to work these long hours, live oppressed and burdened. This was a great miracle in itself just to be free. They were satisfied, but God wasn't satisfied. He said in Exodus 3, "I will see to it that the Egyptians treat you well. They will load you down with gifts so you will not leave empty-handed".
On their way out, the Israelites asked their captors for their gold, their silver, their jewelry, their clothing. God gave them favor and they freely gave it to the Israelites. For generations, they had been loaded down with burdens, loaded down with injustice. Now, they were loaded down with blessings, loaded down with valuables. They left pushing wheelbarrows full of treasures. What was that? God paying them back for 430 years of injustice. God saw what was unfair, not only to them, but to the generations before them. God is keeping the records.
You may be satisfied if God would just turn it around. You'd be happy if God just brought you out of the difficulty, but God is not satisfied, he's going to make the enemy pay. You are not going to come out empty-handed, you are going to come out loaded, better than you were, promoted, stronger, healthier, at a new level. I can imagine a mother taking a gold necklace, putting it on her daughter. The little girl has never worn a necklace, now she feels so valuable, so special. Everywhere she goes, when people see it, it's a reminder that God not only brought them out, but he paid them back.
You may be in an unfair situation. You don't understand why it happened, why you came down with an illness, why you went through a loss, why those people at work are against you. Don't worry, God sees it. You are not going to come out empty-handed. He is going to pay you back in such a way that other people are going to see the favor on your life. The scripture says, "The Israelites went into Egypt in great distress, but they came out with great abundance". How you go in doesn't determine how you're going to come out. You may go in addicted, you're going to come out free. You may go in sick, you're going to come out healthy. You may go in mistreated, injustice, but you're going to come out vindicated, paid back. You may go in struggling, in debt, but you're going to come out with great abundance.
I talked to a lady, she owns her own business. For years, she'd rented space in this shopping mall. She's always been a great tenant, always paid her bills on time. One day, she received an email from the landlord saying that they were going to double her rent. This came out of the blue for no reason. She knew she couldn't make a profit paying that much. They were basically forcing her out, it was unfair. She was concerned, didn't know what she was going to do, and she turned the television on and there I was. I was talking about how trouble can be transportation, how sometimes God will allow difficulties to move us ahead, how we can trust that he's in control, that he will make these wrongs right. Deep down, she knew everything was going to be all right. She came back to a place of peace.
A couple of days later, another landlord that had space two doors down contacted her. She didn't go looking for him, he came looking for her. He offered her twice the amount of space that she currently had for half the amount of rent. She couldn't believe it, she gladly moved to the new location. God knows how to pay you back. He knows what's not fair, he sees every sparrow that falls to the ground, every little bird. How much more does God see everything that happens with you? You don't have to live worried, thinking the disappointment, the bad break is the end. That setback is really a setup for God to show out in your life.
Isaiah said, "God will give you a twofold recompense for the unfair things that have happened". That means God will pay you back double. It's not a coincidence that that lady got twice the space for half the rent. It's not a coincidence in the scripture, after all the heartache and pain, job came out with twice the cattle, twice the sheep, twice what he had. It's not a coincidence when property was sold out from under us, we acquired the Compaq Center, this place. We went from an 8,000-seat auditorium to a 16,000-seat auditorium, exactly double.
When you go through unfair situations, somebody does you wrong, instead of being sour, have a new perspective. They just qualified you for double. You may not like it, it may not have been fair, stay in faith. When God pays you back, you're not going to come out the same. Like the Israelites, you're going to come out loaded down with blessings.
This is what happened to Jacob, he made an agreement to work for his uncle Laban for seven years. In return, Laban would give him his daughter Rachel to marry. Jacob worked faithfully these seven years, increasing Laban's flocks many times over. He made Laban a very wealthy man. But Laban changed his mind. He said, "Jacob, you can marry my daughter Leah, but if you want to marry Rachel, you're going to have to work another seven years". That wasn't what they agreed to, it was unfair, he was dishonest. Jacob went ahead and did it.
At the end of the 14 years, he told Laban that he was going to move back to his hometown with Rachel and his family. Well, Laban felt kind of guilty 'cause he'd hardly paid Jacob anything. He asked Jacob what he could do for him. Jacob said, "I'll work for you a little longer. I don't want any money, just let me have the sheep and goats that are spotted and streaked. You can have all the solid-colored animals, that way when I leave, you'll know I'm not taking anything that belongs to you".
Well, there were very few streaked and spotted animals, so Laban quickly agreed. He thought this is a great deal. He was so dishonest, he snuck out in the middle of the night and removed all the spotted and streaked animals and put them in a different pasture, that way the solid-colored animals couldn't mate with the other ones and Jacob wouldn't have as much. What Laban didn't realize is God controls the universe. When he is ready to pay you back, unfair people can't stop him, bad breaks can't stop him, all the forces of darkness cannot keep him from bringing justice into your life.
When those solid-colored animals mated, you know what color their offspring was? Streaked and spotted. God has the final say. He's not limited by the laws of nature, by an unfair boss, by what somebody says. Laban was over there shaking his head, thinking, "How in the world did that happen"? He was so frustrated, he said, "Jacob, I want to change the agreement. From now on, you only get the spotted-colored animals". Jacob said, "Fine". Now, all the animals that were born were spotted-colored. Laban said, "I want to change the agreement again. Now, I want the spotted-colored animals". Now, all the animals that were born were solid-colored.
The blessing followed Jacob. He left there with more flocks than his uncle Laban. What was that? God paying him back. Maybe someone is not keeping their word with you. They changed the agreement, they're not being honest. Don't worry, God is keeping the records. He's going to make things happen that not only they can't stop, but they can't explain. They're going to be scratching their heads, thinking, "How did you get so blessed"? The more they tried to push you down, the more you rose up. The more they tried to discredit you, leave you out, ignore you, the more God causes you to shine. They're doing their best to limit you. They don't realize you're not on people's payroll, you're on God's payroll.
Jacob said, Genesis 31, "Laban, you would've sent me out without one penny, but God has seen how unfair you've been to me. That's why he's vindicated me and give me an abundance". Like with Jacob, God sees what's unfair. He's not going to just bring you out, he's going to bring you out with abundance. He has not brought you this far to leave you. The disappointments, the bad breaks, the people that did you wrong, that is not the end. The enemy would love to convince you to live discouraged, give up on dreams, settle where you are. Don't believe those lies. Those setbacks are setting you up for a new level of your destiny.
In the scripture, Abraham's nephew Lot was captured by an enemy army. They raided his property and took Lot, all of his children, his family, everything that he owned. One of his men escaped, and went and told Abraham what happened. Abraham called his men together, said, "Lot's in trouble, we have to go rescue him". They snuck upon the enemy armies at night and attacked them from all different sides. The scripture says Abraham recovered all that was stolen, Lot with all of his possessions, all of his family, all of his children.
What's interesting is Lot wasn't supposed to be there in the first place. God told Abraham to leave his relatives and go to a new land. But Abraham decided to take Lot with him. God could've said, "Abraham, Lot's in trouble, but too bad. It's your fault, I told you not to bring him". But God is so merciful, even when we make mistakes, even when it's our fault, he says, "I'm still going to help you". Abraham recovered all.
Maybe you've made mistakes. You're thinking, "Joel, God's not going to pay me back. I can understand if it was unfair, if somebody did me wrong, but this was my fault. I brought the trouble on myself". God is saying to you what he said to Abraham, "I'm going to help you recover all".
Maybe you didn't raise your children right, now they're off course. You're going to recover all your children. You spent money that you didn't have, now you're over your head. You're going to recover all your finances. You didn't take care of your body, maybe you gave in to addictions, you're going to recover all your health. Not partial recovery, partial freedom, fully recovered, fully healthy, fully blessed. God is saying, "You're going to get it all back. All your finances, all your children, all your health, all your dreams, everything that has been stolen".
Luke chapter 17, ten lepers saw Jesus walking through their village and leprosy was a dreaded disease, would cause the skin to become so infected, get so bad that sometimes raw flesh would start showing, and parts of the body would become dismembered, a finger, a toe would rot and eventually fall off. Or hands or ears curl up and become useless. These lepers called out for mercy, asking Jesus to come heal them. But Jesus didn't go pray for them, he didn't lay hands on them, he didn't even speak healing. He told them to go show themselves to the priest. That's what you would normally do after you were healed. They could've thought, "I'm not healed yet. That'd be a waste of time. Once I see my healing, I'll go". They didn't realize their healing was dependent on their obedience.
When God asks you to do something, don't debate it, don't try to figure it out, don't call ten friends and get their opinion, just do it. When you obey, a blessing always follows. The scripture says, "As they went, they were healed". I could imagine as they were walking to the priest, hands that had been gnarled for years suddenly began to open up. Maybe a finger begins to grow out, a toe that was missing begins to reform, an ear that all curled up begins to straight out. Like a movie, parts of their bodies that were dismembered, disfigured begin to morph back to normal. By the time they got to the priest, they were perfectly well. These were unusual miracles, things that seemed impossible. Rotting flesh, a finger missing, can't do anything about that. But nothing is too difficult for our God.
Like these lepers, you may have a situation that looks too far gone, like it could never work out, but God has some of these unusual miracles for you, unusual healing, unusual favor, unusual promotion. It's something that you haven't seen, out of the ordinary. It's never happened in your life. Get ready, payback is coming. The enemy may have done his best, but his best was not enough. God has the final say. He said in the book of Joel, "I will repay you for the years that the locusts have eaten".
That was talking about crops they had lost, insects that had wiped out their harvest. They had struggled for years. They thought that was their destiny. But the next verse says, "You will eat in plenty and be satisfied". God is saying this to you, "I'm going to repay you for the years the enemy has stolen". Years you were mistreated, years you were lonely, years you were sick, addicted, depressed. God is about to repay you. You're going to have plenty of joy, plenty of health, plenty of friends, plenty of opportunities, plenty of resources. You're not only going to be satisfied, you're going to be amazed. That's the Most High God paying you back.
I know this lady, she got off to a rough start in life. She dropped out of high school at 15 and had her first baby at 16. She didn't have any guidance, and she ended up spending three years in prison with a felony offense for writing $2,000 worth of bad checks. Because she had a felony, she lost her right to vote. This really bothered her. When she got out of prison, the only job she could find was working as a bartender.
There was a man that lived by the bar that was constantly encouraging her, telling her, "This bar is not where you belong. God has something better for you. One day, you're going to own your own business. One day, you're going to get your voting rights back". She would weep and weep. This sounded too good to be true. She thought, "That's impossible, I have a felony. How could that happen"? All the circumstances said she was stuck. The odds were against her, but God has unusual favor, unusual opportunities.
There was a lady close by that had a restaurant for sale. This young lady wanted to buy it, but she didn't have the funds. She went to the lady and told her her story. The lady said, "There was a man in the restaurant business that really wanted to purchase it, but there's something special about you, something that I really like. I don't need your money, I'm going to give you my restaurant". She has been in business now there 11 years, plus recently she opened up a second restaurant. A while back, the governor's office called and informed her that the governor was giving her a pardon. She got her voting rights back.
Is there anything too hard for our God? You may have made mistakes, but God is full of mercy. May look impossible, but God has all power. He knows what you've been through. He knows what wasn't fair. He's saying today, "Payback is coming. Not partial, not halfway, not 90%, you're going to get it all back". I believe and declare God is going to restore the years that the enemy has stolen. You're not going to come out empty-handed. Like the Israelites, you're going to come out loaded down, unusual favor, unusual healing, unusual breakthroughs, the fullness of your destiny in Jesus's name.