Joel Osteen - Everything Serves His Plan
I want to talk to you today about how everything serves his plan. We all have things happen to us in life that we don't understand, things that are taken longer than they should, doors that have closed. We did the right thing, but we didn't get the promotion, or people that have turned on us, a co-worker said untrue things and now it's set us back. It's easy to live frustrated and fight against everything we don't like. "God, why is this happening? When are you going to turn it around"? We think that it's holding us back, but Psalm 119 says, "Everything serves his plan".
Not just the good things, not just the times where you're being promoted, you're seeing things change in your favor. We know that serving God's plan, we're moving forward, but what we don't always realize is the delays are serving his plan, the betrayals are serving his plan, the person that walked away is serving his plan. That door that closed, the contract that didn't go through, if that wouldn't have happened, you couldn't reach your destiny. You wanted it so badly, what you couldn't see is God had something better. He loves you too much to let you miss your purpose. You may not like it, it doesn't seem fair, but it's serving his plan.
That silent season, where you're doing the right thing, but nothing's improving: you're being overlooked, people with less experience, less talent are passing you by - that's an important time, you're being developed, you're getting stronger. Without that season you wouldn't be prepared for what's coming. When you understand that everything serves his plan, then you don't live frustrated, when things are unfair. You don't get upset, when you don't get your way. You realize, the closed door wasn't a bad break, it was God shutting the door. The person that walked away wasn't a coincidence, it was God moving them away, they were serving his plan.
When someone serves your dinner, they're doing you a favor, they bring you the food, make sure you have water, clean the dishes when you've done. They're helping you, working for you. We need to see difficulties in a new light, that person at the office that's against you, always trying to make you look bad, next time they do something unfair, instead of getting upset, under your breath just whisper, "Thank you, you just served me". You can't reach your destiny without opposition, without delays, without closed doors. Why are you upset over something that's designed to move you forward? It may be uncomfortable, you may not like it, but it's serving you. God wouldn't have allowed it, if he didn't have a purpose. Nothing can happen to you without his permission.
Before Jesus could be crucified and rise from the dead, he had to be betrayed, somebody had to lie about it, make things up, he had done no wrong. If everybody would have loved Jesus, if everyone would have celebrated him, we wouldn't have salvation. Part of the plan for Jesus life was to have opposition, people that didn't understand him. It's not a coincidence that Judas, one of his 12 disciples, a person Jesus handpick decided to betray him. Judas didn't come up with that on his own, he was a pawn in the hand of God, he was serving Jesus destiny.
What if Jesus would have said, "Father, this isn't fair. I'm doing the right thing and my own disciple betrays me". No, Jesus understood, without the betrayal he couldn't fulfill his purpose. When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, they didn't know what he looked like, Judas said, "I'll identify him by giving him a kiss". Judas walked over like nothing was wrong and greeted Jesus the kiss. That kiss was a significant moment, that helped unlock Jesus destiny.
You could say, that Judas did more for Jesus, than any of the other disciples. Without the betrayal, we wouldn't have salvation. But none of us like opposition, especially people coming against us, trying to make us look bad. How do you know that Judas Kiss is not about to unlock your destiny? How do you know the bad break, the disappointment, the betrayal is not setting you up for something you've never seen? You may not like it, but it's serving his plan.
When Judas Kissed Jesus, I can hear Jesus under his breath saying, "Thank you, Judas, you just served me, you just move me closer to my destiny". That co-worker that keeps getting on your nerves, you've been praying for God to move them away for six years, you know why they're not moving? They're serving you, God is using them like sandpaper to rub the rough edges off of you. You're learning to be patient, learning to be kind, learning to overlook an offense.
The scripture says, our steps are being ordered by the Lord. It doesn't say they're being suggested. If you weren't supposed to be there, you wouldn't be there. God allowed it, because it's necessary to move you into your purpose. Now, quit being upset because of that person that's trying to make you look bad, you need them to reach your destiny. Don't be discouraged over the door that closed, wasn't a coincidence, it's positioning you for something bigger. See, God doesn't take us in a straight line from a to b to c. Sometimes he'll take you from a to b, and then up to m, and then back to d, and then up to r, it may not make sense. Sometimes it's going to feel like you're going backwards, you have to trust him, when you don't understand. You have to know, everything is serving his plan.
That's why Paul said, "All things work together for good to those that love the Lord". All things may not be good: the sickness is not good, the loss is not good, but the promise is, it's going to work for your good. Now the test is: while God is working it out, while it's not good, will you stay in faith? When you don't see any improvement, when it's uncomfortable, unfair, will you believe that God is still on the throne, that he's working behind the scenes, that what he started in your life he will finish?
This is what Joseph had to do. For years he went through bad breaks, betrayals, disappointments. As a teenager his brothers were jealous of him and threw him into a pit. They were going to leave him there to die, but they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming and decided to sell him. Joseph never dreamed he would become a slave, working in a foreign country, felt like God had forgotten about him.
At one point, the wife of the man he worked for falsely accused him, lied about him, Joseph was put in prison for something he didn't do. He had plenty of reasons to live bitter, but you never read where Joseph had a bad attitude, you never read where he complained. He understood this principle, that everything is serving his plan, not just the good things, not just when he had a dream that people would bow down before him, not just when his father favored him and gave him the coat of many colors, but even the bad breaks, even the unfair situations.
Thirteen years later, after all the disappointments, delays, betrayals, just like God promised, Joseph became the prime minister of Egypt. But what interesting is, if any of those bad breaks had not happened: if his brothers had not been jealous, if he had not been thrown into a pit, if he had not been sold as a slave, if the wife had not lied about him, if he had not been put in prison, he wouldn't have made it to the throne. Every step was necessary, they were all instrumental. The things you don't like, the things that are unfair, the things that are taken longer than you thought, like with Joseph is serving his plan, it's moving you towards your destiny.
Years later, his brothers came back to the throne, looking for food during a great famine. Joseph was in charge of the food supply, he said to his brothers, "Don't worry. I'm not going to harm you. You meant this for evil, but God intended it for good". God will use people being against you, to move you into your purpose. That's why you shouldn't take it personally, you need a Judas Kiss to reach your destiny, you need people that try to throw you into the pit so to speak, try to discredit you, push you down, so you can take your throne. If Joseph's brothers betraying him would have kept him from being the prime minister, God would have never allowed it. People can't override what God has ordained for you, bad breaks, detours, delays, injustice, that doesn't stop your destiny, just the opposite, it's moving you into your destiny.
Few years after Victoria and I were married, we received an unexpected tax bill in the mail. The person that was doing our tax returns lived in another state, he wasn't familiar with a certain law in Texas. Now, we owed thousands of dollars. We were a young couple, saving up for a down payment for a house, this was going to take all of our funds. Not only that, about half of what we owed was in penalties. I thought, "God, this is not fair. I hired a professional, he messed up, I'm having to pay for his mistakes". We ended up finding a man to help us get it straightened out, he's a tax attorney. For several weeks he was at our house every night for hours: we were going over documents, filling out new forms, we became good friends.
About 10 years later, when I was working at Lakewood for my father here in the television department, someone offered us a construction permit for the last full-power commercial television station in Houston. A tv station in a big market is very valuable, but I was young and didn't know how to buy a construction permit. Then I thought: I'll call my attorney friend, the one I met during the tax issue. Six months later we had a signed contract, we owned the station. We put it on the air and everything was great.
Eventually my father went to be with the Lord and I became the pastor. Three years after that, we acquired the Compaq Center. It was going to cost a hundred million dollars to renovate, we decided to sell the station. We sold it for a significant profit, those funds were instrumental in us renovating this place. But it all started back with the tax issue. I couldn't see it at the time, I thought it was a bad break, now I realize, it was all serving God's plan. If I had not had the tax problem, I would have never met my attorney friend. Without the attorney, I would have never pursued the station. Without the station, we may not have had the funds to renovate the Compaq Center.
I wonder if you're upset over something that's serving God's plan: a closed door, a person that walked away, a delay that's taken longer than you thought - it doesn't make sense. Stay in peace, it's all a part of the plan. It may feel like it's hindering you, really it's helping you. It looks like it's setting you back, but really it's setting you up for something you haven't seen. God knows what you're going to need in the future. I never dreamed I would be a pastor, I never dreamed one day we would own the Compaq Center, but God knew. That tax issue that was somebody else's fault, that looked like a bad break, the truth is, it was God ordering my steps into something that was unfair.
If you don't understand that everything serves his plan, you'll get bitter, discouraged, give up on dreams. This is what keeps many people from seeing what God was doing behind the scenes. The reason Joseph saw it all come together, is he kept doing the right thing, when the wrong thing was happening. He kept being good to people, who weren't being good to him. He passed the test. And some of the challenges that you're facing now, the things that don't make sense: it doesn't have anything to do with now, it's setting you up, it's positioning you for something in the future. If you will stay in faith, you're going to see how God begins to connect the dots, how it was all strategically orchestrated, all part of God's plan.
There was a man on a boat, a big storm came up and his boat capsized. He was able to swim to the shore, but he ended up stranded on a deserted island all by himself. Week after week went by, he was so miserable, he didn't think it'd ever be found. He kept praying for God to send someone, but it seemed like the heavens were silent.
Just when he thought it couldn't get any worse, one day while he was out gathering food, he came back and the little thatched roof hut that he had built, somehow had caught fire. He stood there and watched it go up in flames, like pouring salt on the wound. He said, "God, I give up. I ask you to help me and one bad thing after another happens".
About an hour later he looked way off in the distance and could see a boat coming. He perked up, it got closer and closer, he couldn't believe it, it was the coast guard, coming to rescue him. He ran out, gave them a big hug, said "How in the world did you find me"? Captain said, "We saw the smoke coming, from the fire that you built". Sometimes what we think is a disappointment is really God positioning us for a new level. I didn't like the tax issue, but I do like being in the Compaq Center.
If your hut is on fire today, instead of complaining, being bitter, have a new perspective: it's serving his plan. It may not make sense right now, being in the pit is uncomfortable, being falsely accused is not fair, the Judas Kiss, the betrayal, the closed doors, that can be discouraging. You have to keep reminding yourself, it's not working against you, it's working for you. Sooner than later, you're going to see what God was up to.
A friend of mine had a dream to play professional football. He's extremely talented, very fast and athletic. His father was one of his coaches and was always working with it. In high school he was the star player, a running back that broke many of the school records. His future looked very bright. Started training harder than ever, getting ready for college, coaches from major universities would attend his games. His junior year he was offered a full scholarship to one of the most prestigious football schools. He was excited, his dream was coming to pass. But during the fourth game of his senior year, he was hit below the knee and heard something pop, he tore his acl.
He laid on the field in shock, knowing that his season was over. He had never missed a game, never had an injury, so disappointed. He was raised in a good family, but they didn't know much about God, they didn't have any kind of faith, just wasn't part of their life. A friend invited him to a youth camp. When he heard the minister speak, he felt something so strong on the inside, that night he gave his life to Christ. It was a complete turnaround in his life.
After the surgery he was doing all the rehab, doing his best to get back in shape, but sitting on the sidelines, watching his team play, he begin to feel new desires in his heart. He no longer wanted to play football, he wanted to become a pastor. His friends, his family, they couldn't understand, didn't make sense after all those years of training, but deep down he knew he was supposed to go into ministry. So he passed on the big football scholarship and he enrolled in a leadership college.
Today our friend Nick Nilsson is one of our pastors here at Lakewood, a great minister. Nick told me, if he had not had that injury, if God had not put his football career on hold, he would have never pursued ministry. God had to pause what Nick thought he wanted to do and redirect him to what he was created to do. At first, he didn't understand it, it didn't seem to make sense, but you don't know what God is up to. God will never close a door, without opening a bigger in a better door.
What you're tempted to be upset about, if you'll keep the right attitude, one day you'll look back and say like Nick, "Lord, thank you for closing that door. Now I see what you were doing, taking me somewhere better than I ever imagined". "Lord, thank you for moving that person out of my life, or I would have never met my amazing spouse". "Lord, thank you that that company wouldn't hire me or I would have never started my own business". Nick says, "I still love football, but I wouldn't change a thing, this is what I was born to do".
"Well, Joel, why is this challenge taking so long? I don't see anything happening, when is it going to turn around"? Sometimes God doesn't remove the obstacle, because he's using the obstacle to develop us. He's getting us prepared for where he's taking us. We don't grow in the good times, when everything's going our way, everyone's for us, things are falling into place. We like that much better, but we wouldn't reach our potential. We grow when it's difficult, when there's resistance, when we're uncomfortable, when we have to stretch. That's why you can't pray away every challenge, you can't pray away everything you don't like. If the situation is not changing, that God is using the situation to change you.
After Joshua died, the Israelites were in the Promised Land, they were living their dream. But the scripture says, "God left certain enemy nations in the land. He did this to teach warfare to the next generation of Israelites who had no experience in battle". God could have had Joshua wipe out all the opposition, clear the path. The problem is, this new generation, when they faced an enemy army, they would have been defeated. They didn't have the experience, the training the strength, God had to taught them up, so he left obstacles in their path on purpose.
If God made everything easy for us, if we never had a delay, a detour, a Judas Kiss, we wouldn't be prepared for where we're going. God has amazing things in your future, things that you've never imagined, but to get there you're going to have to defeat some big Goliath, overcome some big obstacles, outlast some strong opposition. It's not going to happen if you're weak, if you get overwhelmed, upset, "God why is this happening"? Now, you have to stand strong and show the opposition, that you're more determined than they are. God didn't bring you this far to leave you. That problem is not there to stop you, it's there to prepare you. The challenge is not going to defeat you, it's going to promote you.
Every day you stay in faith and thank God that he's working, do the right thing when nothing is improving, your spiritual muscles are growing, you're getting stronger, more determined, developing a greater trust in God. Instead of complaining about what's not turning around, see that as an opportunity to develop your faith. Don't just go through it, grow through it. It's serving his plan, it's there to get you prepared. Now, you have to do your part: keep the right attitude, keep being good to people who aren't being good to you, keep excelling at work when you're not getting the credit, keep thanking God when it's not turning around. Don't worry about nothing's changing on the outside, something's happening on the inside, you're getting stronger.
In the scripture, three times the apostle Paul asked God to remove the thorn from his side, something that was bothering him. God could have easily removed it, he parted Red Seas, he opened blind eyes, but God said to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you". His grace doesn't mean God is going to remove every challenge, doesn't mean the opposition is going to let up, it means he's going to increase your strength, so it doesn't feel as difficult. As you get stronger, what's against you becomes easier. God didn't lessen what's coming against you, he simply added to your strength.
Now you can handle what you normally couldn't handle, you're not bothered by what used to bother you. That person at work, that always got on your nerves, sour your day - he didn't change, he's still the same old jerk, I mean the same person, but look at you - he didn't change, but you've changed. Now, you don't let it steal your joy, you don't pay any attention to it. What's happening? You're growing. The obstacle is not changing, but it's changing you. That's God's plan working.
Now, you may have situations you've been dealing with a long time that are not improving, you're tempted to get tired, worn down. I believe right now God's grace is coming on you in a new way, God is breathing strengthen to you, fresh passion, fresh vision, a second wind, so you can stand strong and outlast what's trying to stop you. Now, tap into this grace. Don't go around, "Why did the door closed? Why did they betray me? When is it going to change"? Turn it around, "Father, thank you, that your grace is sufficient for everything I'm facing. I may not understand it, but I know, it's serving your plan. And I'm not going to just go through it, I'm going to grow through it. Now, I believe, when it's all set and done, I'm not only coming out, but I'm coming out better".
The Psalmist said, "All my troubles turned out for the good". God is saying to you today, "Everything that's come against you is going to turn out for your good". The Judas Kiss didn't feel good, the betrayal, but it's going to turn out good, it's leading you to a resurrection, to something you've never seen. The pit was uncomfortable, being falsely accused wasn't fair, but it's taken you to your throne, to new levels of influence. The football injury was disappointing, the closed doors were discouraging, but God's about to open the door better than you've imagined.
Perhaps your hut is on fire today, the medical report is not good, a child is off course. What you can't see, is the Most High God is headed your way. Something that looked permanent is about to suddenly turn around. I'm asking you to trust him when you don't understand, don't fight everything you don't like, stay in peace, everything serves his plan. If you'll do this, I believe and declare, what is meant for your harm is being turned to your advantage. You're about to see God connect the dots, things you didn't understand, it don't make sense are about to come together: new opportunities, new levels, healing, breakthroughs, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.