Joel Osteen - Positioned for Increase
I want to talk to you today аbout: Positioned for Increase. We all have to deal with things that come to an end: we lost our main client, a friend we could always count on is moving away, or loved one went to be with the Lord. We've seen God's blessing in the past, we know we have his favor, but it feels like that favor has been taken away. But God will never remove something, unless he has something better coming. If he didn't stop certain things, we would never get out of our comfort zone, we would stay with the familiar. So, sometimes God will put an end to what doesn't make sense to us, we don't understand why the friend walked away, why the business pushed us out, why sales aren't what they used to be? God is not doing that to make your life more difficult, he's getting you in position for increase. He had to stop what was working, to force you to stretch, so you can come into greater provision, greater favor.
This is what happened with the Israelites, they had been in slavery for many years, when God supernaturally brought them out. These two million people headed into the desert toward the Promised Land. The problem was, there was nothing to eat out there, no way to survive. So, every morning God gave them something called "Manna", it was like bread that formed on the ground. And as they traveled the desert for forty years, one thing they could always count on was the manna. They had armies to fight or enemies to fight, they had to overcome, there were snakes and scorpions, but every day, like clockwork there was the manna. They knew, that was the hand of God taking care of them.
What they didn't realize, was the manna was only temporary provision. They were satisfied, they had something to eat, but God wasn't satisfied, he was taking them into a land flowing with milk and honey, a land filled with food and resources. When they got close to the Promised Land, something interesting happened. The scripture says, the manna ceased and they never saw the manna again. Imagine what the people thought, after forty years of having manna, over 14,000 mornings they got up and had breakfast at their tent. Now, it was nowhere to be found. I can hear them panicking, "God, what's happening? Why aren't you providing for us anymore"?
They would have lived off of manna the rest of their lives, so God on purpose stop the manna. He said, "From now on, I want you to cook your own food. You don't need this manna anymore, there's provision all around you". And he said, "I'm bring you into this land of abundance", it wasn't a coincidence that the manna stopped, when they were about to go into the Promised Land. When something ceases in your life, it's an indication that increase is coming. God never stop something, unless he has greater provision on the way. Maybe a friend walked away, a contract fell through, you had a setback in your family. Now, it's not as easy as it used to be, the manna is not coming, you have to cook your own food - it's because you're about to step in to a new level.
The manna drying up is a sign: you are close to your Promised Land. What you were satisfied with was only temporary provision. You were blessed, life is good, but God has so much more in store for you. He had to cease the friendship, he had to move that person away, not because they're not good, but they were limiting you, they can't go where you're going. God had to close that door, so he could bring people into your life, that will push you into your purpose. People that will help you and not hinder you. Or maybe that position that you were counting on didn't work out. You were hoping it would last, but it wasn't permanent - it's because it was only temporary provision. God stopped the manna not because he's forgotten about you, but he's about to take you into your Promised Land. He ceased it for one reason: to increase you, to take you where you couldn't go on your own.
But when things cease, it's easy to think, "God, what's happening? Where is the manna? I'm counting on it, it's been this way for years". It's tempting to live worried, "I think we're doing something wrong, we must have stepped out of God's favor". Well, God didn't ceased the provision because he's through with you, he ceased it because he has something greater coming. And so, when the manna stops appearing, instead of being discouraged, have a new perspective: you on the verge of a new level, that's an indication, walls are about to come down, giants are about to be defeated, you're about to see failure, promotion, opportunity, like never before.
My friend Tony Dungy played professional football for many years. After a successful career in 1996, he landed a job as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Football Team - was a dream come true. He knew it was the hand of God opening the door. For six years everything went great, they were winning more games, making more progress - the manna was there every morning, the favor, the provision. But one day he was expectedly let go, they fired him. He thought, "God, I know you brought me here, I know this was your favor".
But when the mama stops, that's a sign, God is up to something. The question is: will you get negative? "God, this is not fair. I can't believe this happened". Or will you say, "God, I know, you wouldn't have closed this door, unless you were about to open a better door. So, Lord, I thank you, that you're in control, that your plans for me or for good, that what you started in my life you will finish".
The manna cease is a test. Many people get bitter, give up on their dreams. You have to understand, the reason the manna stops, the reason people walk away, the reason doors closed, is you are close to your Promised Land, that's God taking away the temporary provision. May seem permanent to us, we were satisfied, but God's dream for your life is much bigger than your own.
Coach Dungy was disappointed of course, but he didn't sit around in self-pity, thinking about how bad life was. He knew, the same God that opened the door in Tampa Bay had now closed the door. It wasn't long after he was let go, that he received a phone call from the Indianapolis Colts Football Team, they said, "We're looking for a coach, are you interested"? Coach Dungy took the job, he went on to win the Super Bowl with the colts. What looked like a great disappointment: being pushed out, the manna ceasing, was really a great blessing.
Has something ceased in your life: you went through a disappointment, closed door, somebody walked away? It's more difficult than it used to be, the manna is not there every morning. God is saying, "Get ready, I'm about to do something, that you've never seen". He didn't cease the provision because he's through with you, he stopped it because it was only temporary. He's about to launch you into a new level. Now, don't let it sour you, "Why did this business push me out? Why did this company leave me out"? It wasn't their choice - God was shutting the door, God was moving them away, it was God stopping the manna.
God told the Israelites, "You don't need this manna anymore, there's provision all around you". See, they were so close to the Promised Land, and there was all kinds of food available. If God had kept giving them the manna, they would have missed the abundance, that belong to them. When the manna ceases in your life, like with them, you're so close to your Promised Land, the provision is already there. Now, you have to cook your own food. God is not going to do this for you. You can't stay with the familiar, with what you're used to, with what's easy. You have to stretch, get out of your comfort zone, take some steps of faith. There is greatness in you. You weren't created to live off of manna, don't have a manna mentality, don't complain about what stopped in your life: if it ceased, it wasn't supposed to be permanent. It's a step on the way to your destiny.
The Israelites had to accept having no manna, meant that it was a new day and God was doing a new thing. If they would have been sour, because the manna ceased, they would have never seen walls of Jericho come down, they would have never conquered city after city and lived in the land of abundance. Are you letting what ceased in your life caused you to be sour? Or do you see it as a sign, that you're about to go into your Promised Land?
When the manna ceases, you have to dig down deep: "This business may have slowed down, but father, thank you that you're about to open up new doors. This person walked away, Lord, thank you, that you have someone better coming. This marriage is difficult, but father, thank you that piece, restoration, harmony is on the way".
Here's a key: the closer the Israelites got to the Promised Land, the less God did for them. When they were in slavery, God sent plagues on the Pharaoh, the Israelites didn't have to do anything, they just sat back and watched. God changed the Pharaohs mind, God parted the Red Sea, God drowned all their enemies. In the desert God brought water out of a rock, God gave them quail to eat, on and on, they saw the hand of God, manna every morning. But when they were about to go into the Promised Land, God said, "Now, I want you to cook your own food. I'll bring the walls down, but you have to March around them seven times. I'll defeat these enemies, but you have to go in and posses the land".
As they got closer, they had to grow up. God expected them to stand on their own two feet, to encourage themselves, to fight off the fear. He was saying, "The day is over, when I'm going to bring you the manna, the provision is all around you. I've brought you this far, I fought all your battles, I gave you breakfast every morning, but for this, to enter this place of abundance, you have to step up".
With the Promised Land comes a new level of responsibility. Maybe in the past you've relied on other people to keep you encouraged and cheered up, God is going to begin to wean those people away. At some point that manna is going to cease, not because God doesn't love you, but he wants you to stand on your own. You can't reach your destiny always depending on somebody else. You don't need that crutch, start encouraging yourself. All through the day, "I am strong in the Lord. Something good is going to happen to me. God being for me is more than the world being against me".
To enter your Promised Land, you have to cook your own food. Some of the things God has done for you in the past, having people to encourage you, causing it to be easy, just make it everything go your way, that's not going to continue. If God kept doing everything for us, we wouldn't see the abundance all around. You may wonder: why certain things are more difficult? Raising your children used to be easier, at work it's more complicated, in your finances: you're working harder for the same income.
Stay encouraged, you're cooking your own food. That means you're close to your Promised Land, you're about to go in: that's when you'll see shifts in your favor, that's when you'll see increase, promotion, opportunity, like you've never seen. But you have to pay this test of not falling apart, when the manna ceases. When things are not coming as easily, take it as a compliment, you're growing. God is saying, "I don't have to keep feeding you manna. I don't have to sustain you of this temporary provision, you're getting stronger, where you can handle the fullness of what I have in store".
Before the Israelites could enter the Promised Land, they had to say goodbye to the familiar, goodbye to manna, that they had seen for 40 years. Imagine when it quit coming: they could have been discouraged, lost their passion. Instead, they said, "Fine, we'll step up and go get our own food". They went out and found all kinds of corn, grains, it was all available.
Some people never succeed, because they're not willing to say goodbye to the familiar, they won't say goodbye to a friendship that's holding them back, goodbye to a job, where they're not fulfilled. Or goodbye to old mindsets, to limited thinking. When God stops the manna, when that relationship or let's say that friendship is not feeding you anymore, it's just pulling you down, not doing anything good: if you're not willing to say goodbye, you'll miss your Promised Land.
When you know you're supposed to take a step of faith and teach that class, start your business, write that book, move into that new neighborhood - don't stay where it's comfortable. You can't play it safe your whole life and become who you were created to be. God is the one that put the desires in you, he's the one that caused the manna to cease. It was good for a season, but you weren't made to live off of manna. You have to say goodbye to some things, to keep moving forward. And it doesn't mean we're bad, but everyone is not supposed to be in your life forever. When God closes a door, the longer we hold on to it, the more miserable we're going to be.
When the manna ceases for a certain position: you know you're supposed to move on, you have bigger things in you, but you're afraid. The problem is, the grace for that old position is not going to be there, God has moved on. Favor is waiting for you at your next assignment. You have to strength, get out of your comfort zone. If you'll say goodbye to the familiar, you'll see the new things God has in store.
This is what I had to do. I worked behind the scenes here at Lakewood for 17 years and I thought that's what I would do the rest of my life. I was happy and fulfilled. But in 1999, when my father went to be with the Lord, everything changed for me. I knew, I was supposed to step up and pastor the church, but I like to be in behind the scenes. I was comfortable, I didn't want to have to get out in front of the people. When my father was here, it was easy, like with the Israelites, the manna came to me every morning. But when he passed, it was like the manna ceased. He was gone and nothing I could do could bring him back.
And sometimes God will close a door. No matter how much we don't like it, it's not going to reopen. The good news is: God never ceases the manna, unless he has greater provision coming. He never closes a door, unless he's about to open another door. But too often we try to hold on to old manna, old friendships, old positions, old mindsets. When that manna ceases, that means God is doing a new thing. You have to let go.
It's interesting, the manna God gave the Israelites was only good for one day. They could gather enough for three or four days, but in two or four hours it would spoil, it wouldn't last. When we try to hold on to old manna, what God used to do, a friendship that was right for a season, but not now, a position where we're not fulfilled: all that manna is spoiled, you're not growing, it's not feeding you. Maybe in your career, what used to challenge you does it challenge it anymore. You hear God telling you to stretch, to move forward. You wonder: why you're not fulfilled? Why you're not growing? That manna is old, it's not feeding you anymore. God has freshness, he's a God of new beginnings. Yes, the manna was good for a season, it brought you to the Promised Land, it sustains you while you were learning, but at some point the manna is going to cease - that's when you have to prepare your own food. You have to step up to who you were created to be.
When my father died, I was afraid, but I did what I'm asking you to do: I got out of my comfort zone, I said goodbye to the familiar, I stepped up to pastor the church. And God has taken me further than I ever imagined. But had my father not gone to be with the Lord, had that manna not ceased, I would have never made it into my Promised Land. You don't have to lose a loved one, but there are times, God will cease good things in your life. You don't feel like you have the favor that you used to, don't get discouraged, you're about to step up to a new level. God is taking you from glory to glory. What you were satisfied with was only one level of glory, it was temporary provision, he's about to take you to a new level of glory, where you'll see increase, favor, like you've never seen.
God told the prophet Elijah to go down to the brook called Cherith and the ravens would feed him there. He arrived at the brook, he had provision week after week. He didn't have to go get the food: like clockwork, every day the ravens came to him. He had home delivery before Domino's. I'm sure, he thought, "It can't get any better than this. God, you're so good to me, for months the ravens kept coming".
He was comfortable, he knew he had God's blessing. But one day, the brook dried up and the ravens quit coming. God said, "Elijah, now I want you to go to the city of Zarephath, I have a widow that's going to take care of you". Elijah could have said, "That couldn't be God. He's blessed me here. I've seen his favor, I'm gonna stay where I am". He could have held on to the old. The problem was: the brook dried up, the ravens quit coming. Why? It was temporary provision
Elijah went to the city of Zarephath, that's where his ministry began. He saw some of the greatest miracles ever recorded in the scripture. It's not a coincidence, that had happened after the brook dried up, after the manna ceased, when it seemed like God had forgotten about him, when it looked like he didn't have the favor and influence that he once had. Actually that was a sign, that he was about to step in to a new level of his destiny.
Are you frustrated, because the brook dried up? Discouraged, because the manna stopped, things are not happening like they used to? What you don't realize, is God is positioning you for increase. It looks like a setback, but really it's a setup, he's about to do something, that you've never seen. The brook drying up is not the end, it's a sign: greater provision is coming, greater influence, greater anointing. And don't complain about the brook, get ready for the new things God is about to do. Thank him, when you don't see any sign of water, trust him even when doors close, keep stretching and doing the right thing. The brook may have dried up, what you can't see, is a flood of God's favor is headed your way.
In 2006, a friend of mine had a dream to put the Bible on computer, so he developed a website where the Bible was available and you could make notes out to the side, like a traditional print Bible, you could pull out scriptures and send to people - a lot of features that had never been done before. He thought it was a good idea, but after the first month, only 20,000 people had visited the site. And he was okay with it, but they were hoping for a lot lot more, plus there was very little engagement. He and his team has spent a lot of time and money, after a year they were ready to shut it down, it wasn't worth the effort.
Two weeks before they pulled the plug, he had another idea: what if, instead of making a website with the Bible, they made the Bible available on a mobile phone, that way people would have the Bible everywhere they went. He was a little concerned about how such a big book would fit on a tiny screen, but something felt good on the inside. In 2008 he and his team designed and built a mobile website for the Bible. Not long after that, Apple announced that they were offering the opportunity to develop what we now know are apps for our phone. He submitted his app, it was approved and available the first day the App Atore launched on Apple. They were hoping for 80,000 downloads the first year, but in three days they had 83,000 downloads. Today the Youversion Bible App, developed by my friend Bobby Grunwald, has been downloaded on over 400 million phones in every country of the world.
What's interesting, is the success came after the brook dried up, after the manna ceased, when Bobby was tempted to give up. Sometimes God shuts the door to push us into our Promised Land. He ceases the manna, because it was temporary provision. Yes, it would have sustained us, but what God has in mind is much bigger, much better.
Maybe the manna has ceased in some area of your life, you're tempted to give up on a dream, lose your passion. But, like with him, it means greater provision is coming. The brook drying up is a sign: God is positioning you for something that you've never seen. Now, it's not the time to get discouraged, now is the time to get ready. Stir your faith up, you are close to your Promised Land. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: like Elijah, like with Bobby, supernatural doors are about to open, new relationships, new opportunities, healing, breakthroughs, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name, amen.