Joel Osteen - Windows Of Grace
I want to talk to you today about windows of grace. There are times where we're going along minding our own business, and suddenly we know we're supposed to do something. We feel it so strongly in our spirit, this urging telling us to forgive the person that hurt us. Or we've struggled with an addiction for years, but suddenly we have a new desire to be free, we've dreamed about starting our business, writing that book, all of the sudden we know it's our time. Those are not just nice thoughts, that's God speaking to us. God doesn't ask us to do something and not give us the ability to do it. With that urging, you'll feel faith rising up, you'll have the faith, the determination, the strength, the favor to do what you couldn't do before.
But here's the key: it's a window of grace, it's not going to last forever. Too often we hear the still small voice, but we put it off. "I know I need to forgive, but I'll do it later. I know I need to get in shape, take care of my health, I'll do it soon. I feel this new passion, this confident to step up and lead my department, I'm gonna do it one day". The problem is, that window is going to close. Don't take the grace for granted, that is a destiny moment where God is making a way where you can come up higher. When you feel that faith, you have to step into it. That's God saying, "This is your time, this is your moment".
The scripture says (Hebrew 3:15), "Today if you hear his voice, harden not your hearts". That's not just talking about salvation. When you hear his voice telling you to have a better attitude, to treat your spouse more respectfully, to tithe your income - the reason it's so strong, is God is opening a window of grace. That's the time to obey: not tomorrow, not next week, but right then. When that window opens, you'll feel a divine empowerment, God breathing in your direction in a new way. You will have the grace to forgive, the confidence to step up, the power to succeed.
A friend of mine struggled with smoking since high school, he was in his forties, he didn't like to smoke, he tried to quit many times, but wasn't able to. He finally accepted it, that that was his lot in life. One morning he woke up and felt so strongly, that it was his time to stop smoking. He had a new determination, a new passion, he said, "I've never felt faith like this, I knew I was going to break it". The problem is, he kept putting it off, saying "Tomorrow I'm gonna start". Tomorrow would come, he felt it just as strongly, "Later I'll get serious about it". The next week he didn't feel it quite as much. A month went by, still hadn't done anything, now he barely had the desire to stop. A couple of months later he was back to thinking he could never break it. He said, "Joel, I know I could have stopped. I know that what's God talking to me, but I missed my season".
That window doesn't stay open forever, there is a time limitation where God gives you this opportunity to come up higher. When you have the faith for it, that's the time to act. Don't talk yourself out of it, don't make excuses, "Later I'll get serious". You're not always going to feel what you feel. That grace is on you for that season, to do what God's asking you to do. Today when you hear his voice - obey, step into that grace, take advantage of what God is offering you. And if the window closes, yes, God will open another window, he's merciful, but you don't know how long that's going to be. You don't have time to go around the mountain again and again, like the Israelites - they turned an eleven-day journey to the Promised Land into 40 years, because they kept complaining, talking about how big their obstacles were.
When God brings something to light that you need to deal with: a bad attitude, jealousy, saying hurtful things - you wouldn't feel that conviction, unless the window was opening to change, but you have to step into it. Dig your heels in and be more disciplined, bite your tongue when you could be disrespectful, have a smile when you should be discouraged: the grace is there. As you tap into it, you will feel a force enabling you, empowering you. What is that? You're in a window of grace.
In the scripture there are two Greek words used for time: one is chronos, that's where we get our word chronological. It deals with ordinary time: minutes, hours and days. The second Greek word is Kairos: it's defined as an opportune moment, a passing instant where an opening appears. It has to do with an appointed time, with a season of favor. Now, God has already ordained these Kairos moments for you. You're going to come into opportunities, that seem over your head, you're going to be tempted to shrink back: God wouldn't have put you there, if you couldn't do it. It's a Kairos moment, it's a season of favor.
All of the sudden you know, you can beat that depression, you know lack and struggle is not your destiny, you feel faith rising up. Those are not just encouraging feelings, you're coming into a Kairos moment, a special season a favor that God has strategically designed for you. If you will step into it, doors will open that you couldn't open, bad habits, addictions that have held you back will be broken. Get ready for some Kairos moments, moments that thrust you ahead. And when they come, don't be intimidated, that obstacle may be big but our God is much bigger, he would not have opened that door if you didn't have the favor to go through it.
But it is a window of grace, it's not going to last forever, you can't keep putting it off and expect it to be there in a year. When you feel it, you have to stir your faith up, "Father, thank you that this is a new day, I am stepping into new levels of favor, wisdom, determination, discipline, creativity, anointing, and every force that's trying to stop me is being broken". Get an agreement with God: he will open the window, but you have to take advantage of it.
This is where the Israelites missed it. They had been in slavery many years, God brought them out, and they were headed toward the Promised Land. They made it through the desert, fought off enemies along the way, finally came to the land flowing with milk and honey. They were camped next door to the Promised Land. This is what they had been dreaming about, all they had to do was go in and take the land, God had already promised them the victory. This was one of their Kairos moments, an incredible door was about to open, an opportunity of a lifetime. With that Kairos moment comes the favor to accomplish, the power to overcome, the strength to defeat the opposition.
The problem is: the Israelites didn't recognize, that they were in a window of grace. They said, "Moses, these people are too big, we'll never defeat them, we felt like grasshoppers compared to them, let's go back to Egypt". Even though God promised to take them into the land, even though they were in a Kairos moment, where they had to favor, the strength, the power, they turned around and went back into the desert. They didn't understand, God won't give you the opportunity and then not give you the grace to do it. You may be up against some big giants, but the favor on your life is bigger than anything that's trying to hold you back.
And God was so put out with the Israelites, he told Moses that they were never going to enter the Promised Land. Moses told the people what God said, how they were limiting their destiny, being weak and intimidated. The scripture says, they turned and went back toward the Promised Land. They said, "Moses we have done wrong, now we are ready to enter the land God promised". You wouldn't think Moses would say, "Great, I'm glad you change your mind, let's go in". Moses said to them, "Do not enter the land now or you will be crushed by your enemies". What happened? That window of grace closed, that Kairos moment past. Moses knew, if they tried to go in out of God's timing, when the window of favor wasn't open, they would be defeated. That's why it's so important to not put off what you know God is telling you to do.
When you feel that urging, that knowing, whether it's to break a bad habit or to step into something that seems over your head, if you keep delaying the window is going to close. And your mind may tell you all the reasons why it's not going to work out, you can't accomplish that dream, you don't have the connections, you can't forgive that person, they hurt you too badly. You've always been negative, bitter, jealous that's just who you are - that is not who you are, that's why you're hearing this, there's a Kairos moment coming your way, there's a window of grace about to open.
Now, don't do like them, put your shoulders back, hold your head up high and step into it. God is about to take you to a new level, things that have held you back are being broken, new doors are about to open, giants are about to be defeated, talent is about to come out of you that you didn't know you had. You are coming into a season of special favor. Yes, you always have favor, but there are moments where that favor will show out, you're going to see an opportune time where God thrust you ahead.
Now do your part, start believing your favor, start praying bold prayers, start speaking victory over your life. Don't go around talking about how big the giants are and how you could never get well, never meet the right person, never start your own business: zip that up, start declaring, "This is my time, God's favor is on my life in a new way, I have the grace to rise higher, the grace to forgive that person, the grace to break this addiction, the grace to accomplish my dream". Be bold, be strong the Lord your God is with you.
This is what I had to do. When my father was 77 years old, he was at my sister Lisa's house one Monday evening to eat dinner with Lisa and my mother. Lisa had just finished cooking her favorite dish, right before she put those TV dinners on the table, my father said to them, "I'm going to call Joel and see if he'll speak for me this Sunday". My mother laughed and said, "John, you were wasting your time, Joel is not a minister". I had worked behind the scenes here at Lakewood for 17 years, doing the television production. My father tried to get me up to speak many times, but I always told him "No". I didn't have any desire to get up in front of people, plus my dad was a great pastor, I thought who would want to listen to me? You know, I ain't been trained to do this.
Well, that Monday evening I was eating dinner at my house as well, my dad called and said, "Joel, I just wanted to see if you would speak for me this Sunday". I had told him "No" dozens of times before, I've kind of laughed and said, "Daddy, I'm always honored that you ask, that you had that much confidence in me, but I'm just not a minister". He never pressured me, he encouraged kids to follow our own dreams. We hung up the phone and I sat down to finish eating dinner. A couple of minutes later I felt something so strongly on the inside, telling me that I needed to do it. I don't know how to explain it, I just knew that I knew, I was supposed to do it.
It didn't make sense to my mind, but God doesn't speak to our mind, he speaks to our spirit. Not out loud, but down in here you'll feel in urging, a knowing. You don't have to hear words, you just know it. Many times we don't recognize - that's God talking to us. All of the sudden you know, you're supposed to get your finances in order, you know you're supposed to break away from a friend that's holding you back, you know you're supposed to go back to school, improve your skills. We think, "Oh, that's just me, I'll think about it, maybe I will, maybe I won't, no big deal". No, that's not just you, that's God talking to you, that's God opening a window of grace.
You're coming into a Kairos moment, a special season of favor to do, what you couldn't do, to go where you couldn't go. The question is: will you step into it or will you put it off and let the window closed? Time is of the essence, the longer you wait, the less passion you'll feel and the less likely you'll be to do it. Don't put it off, it's an opportune moment. It's not months, it's not years, it's a passing opportunity. Unless you grab hold of it, stretch your faith, make the changes, then you'll miss your moment.
Five minutes later I called my father back and told him that I had changed my mind and that I would speak for him that Sunday. Lisa and my mother nearly passed out, I was going to speak my first sermon in 36 years. I didn't want to do it, but I knew I was supposed to do it. The truth is: that was the most miserable week of my life. I so dreaded having to get up in front of people, no offense, but y'all were very scary. I told Victoria, "Please don't talk to me until Sunday afternoon, at one o'clock. I'm gonna do this one time, make my father proud and then I'm done". You've heard that say, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans".
I spoke that Sunday, never dreaming that would be the last Sunday of my father's life. Now, I often think about where would I be, if I would have said "No", if I would have ignored that feeling. That was a Kairos moment, something God ordained to thrust me into my destiny. It's not like I could have done it a month later, my father would have been gone, wouldn't have had the same impact. And one reason I was able to step up and pastor the church, is I thought, "What are the chances of me speaking the last Sunday of his life? I had told him no for 36 years, but it just so happened that last time I said yes" that's why I felt it so strongly, I knew I was supposed to do it.
But here's my point: I could have said no, I could have ignored it, I could have said, "I'll do it later, I don't feel qualified, ask me again at the same time next year". But by the grace of God I stepped into it. Don't miss your Kairos moments, you don't know where they're taking you, you don't know what doors are going to open, you don't know what one good decision, one step of faith, one getting out of your comfort zone and obeying that still small voice, how that's going to cause a domino effect of awesome things in your life.
If I had not said yes to that one speaking invitation, I don't believe that I would be a pastor today, we wouldn't have probably the Compaq Center, the books, Sirius XM, nights of hope - those all followed that one act of obedience. "Well, Joel, that's exciting for you, but it's kind of depressing for me, because I think I've already missed my window". You wouldn't be hearing this, if God wasn't about to open another window. There is a Kairos moment coming your way, something that's going to thrust you ahead, a power that's going to free you from every addiction, break every chain that's held you back, and release you into a future greater than you've ever imagined. Now, when it comes step into it, stretch your faith, pursue that dream, make the necessary changes. Don't let it pass you by.
In Acts chapter 24 the apostle Paul was brought to Caesarea to go on trial for sharing his faith. He was standing for the governor, a man named Felix, presenting his case. Felix was very intrigued by Paul, the main trial was going to take place later, so he had Paul taken into custody. In a few days Felix and his wife sit for Paul to come visit with them. Paul discussed his faith, the importance of living a godly life and having self-control. Felix felt convicted, he had lived compromising, giving in to carnal desires, he knew he needed to change. This was one of his Kairos moments, a window of grace. But Felix said to Paul in verse 25, "Go away for now. When a more convenient time comes, I'll call for you".
He put it off, he didn't want to deal with the conviction. Two years later he was out of office, we never read about Felix again. I don't know if that more convenient time ever came. That's why the scripture says, "Today, when you hear his voice obey". Are you waiting for a more convenient time, ignoring the still small voice, talking yourself out of taking that step of faith? You don't know how long that window is going to be open. Don't do like Felix and keep making excuses, this is an opportunity to come up higher, to see God's favor in a greater way.
My friend Devon Franklin is a movie producer in Hollywood. When he was a young man, he had a dream to own his own company making films. He went to Los Angeles to be an intern at this big movie studio. Instead of producing films, he was running errands: taking the executives coffee, bringing their lunches, but he stayed faithful, and one door after another open. He got a position helping produce will smith's movies, he ended up as a vice-president at Sony Pictures. A great position, but his dream was to own his own company. He produced the movie "Heaven is for real", opening weekend it made 30 million dollars, a huge success, nobody predicted those kinds of numbers. His boss called and congratulated him and said, she was going to give him a promotion and increase his salary.
As he was going to meet with her, he heard God saying to him, "This is the time to leave Sony and start your own company". He said, "God, that couldn't make sense. These people love me, I'm about to get this huge promotion". Deep down he couldn't get away from it, he knew he was supposed to make a change. He told his boss that he was going to leave, and that he wanted Sony to fund his new company. She looked at him and said, "Yes, we can do that". He nearly passed out, this was more than he could imagine. He would not only have his company, but his old company would fund it.
They signed all the paperwork, several weeks later this boss that liked him so much was involved in an email controversy and she suddenly lost her job. If he would have waited a couple of months to start the company, he would have never had the funding, that was a Kairos moment, a window of grace. You can do the right thing at the wrong time, and miss your destiny. Timing is critical. When God says to do something, you need to do it. It may not make sense now, but God knows things that we don't know. When he says "Forgive", you may think of a thousand reasons not to, just do it, God knows what's best for you.
When he says, "Take that step of faith", your mind may tell you, "What if it doesn't work? What if the contract doesn't go through? What if the economy slows down"? If there are no risk, it doesn't take any faith. If there's no chance you can fail, then you don't need God's help. But where God has taken you, you can't go there on your own. You may be talented, but your talent alone is not enough. You may be connected, but you don't have enough connections, God has a future for you that is much greater than you imagine, you're going to need these windows of grace, these Kairos moments.
When we acquired this building, the former Compaq Center, I was told that it was going to cost a hundred million dollars to renovate. Three years earlier I was running camera, editing my father sermons, doing the production. Do you know how much fundraising experience I had at that time? Zero. I thought, "God, I am so far over my head, but Lord thank you that this is not over your head". I had the faith, the boldness, the confidence to do something, that didn't even make sense. That was one of my Kairos moments. What am I saying? When God asks you to do something, he's going to give you the faith and the favor to do it.
The scripture talks about having the faith of God. Sometimes it's not even our faith, it's God putting his faith in us. But you have to stay in this window, you can't think about it for six years, and get 47 different opinions. First though you're going to be confused, because people can't hear what God's telling you, they can't feel what you're feeling on the inside, and secondly that window is not going to last forever. If you keep putting it off, eventually it's going to close.
In the scripture God told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and tell the people, they had 40 days to repent or God was going to destroy the city. It's interesting that God put a time period on it. He didn't just say repent sometime, whenever you feel like it, no big deal, just as long as you do it. He said, "You have 40 days to make things right". When Jonah told the people, the first thing they did was fall on their knees, the king took off his royal road, put ashes on his head and declared a citywide fast. They didn't wait a week, they didn't wait 20 days, immediately they said, "God, we're sorry for the way we've been living and God spared the city".
I wonder, if there's something you could change in the next 40 days, and you would see God's favor in a new way? Maybe God's saying to you: you have 40 days to get your priorities in order, 40 days to forgive that person, 40 days to pursue your dreams or 40 days to get serious in your relationship with God. There's a window of grace. It was 40 days for the people of Nineveh, I don't know what it is for you, but I do know when these Kairos moments come, there is a time limitation, they don't last forever. Don't miss your moment, listen to that still small voice, that knowing on the inside. That's when you're going to have a divine empowerment, the favor to do what God's asking you to do. If you will do this, I believe and declare, you are about to come in to some of these Kairos moments, new doors are about to open, freedom from addictions, restoration in relationships, healing, promotion, breakthroughs, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.