Joel Osteen - Time Is On Your Side
I want to talk to you today about Time Is On Your Side. We've all been through seasons in life which feels like we've lost time. We were in a relationship that didn't work out, we lost those years. We weren't raised in a healthy environment, feels like we've lost our childhood. We came down with an illness or struggled with an addiction, months passed, maybe years, it's time that we can't get back. It's easy to think "That was just a rough season, there's nothing that I can do about it", but God said in the Book of Joel 2:25, "I will restore the years that the locust have eaten, the years that the cankerworm and palmerwarm have destroyed".
It said that time is the one thing that we can't get back. That's true in the natural, but we have a supernatural God, he knows how to make up for lost time. He's not going to just restore you, he's going to restore the years that you spent in that relationship that didn't make it. It feels like it was a waste of time, but God is going to make the rest of your life so fulfilling, that you don't think about what you've been through. He's not going to just bring you out of that illness, he's going to restore the years that you spent taken the treatment. Your latter days will be better than your former days.
Here's how good God is. He's even going to restore the years that we've wasted making poor choices, running with the wrong crowd, years you should have been studying we just spent them partying. Years that you should have been raising children, but you were distracted doing other things. Years you should have been pursuing dreams, but you let fear, opposition hold you back. It should be too late. You missed your chance - God is saying, "Get ready I'm about to restore the years, I'm about to make up for the time you missed with your children". He's not going to just restore the relationship, he's going to restore the years. He's going to make it as if you never lost that time.
That company you spent years at, they didn't treat you fairly - God is not going to just turn it around, but he's going to pay you back for what should have been yours. In this passage from the Book of Joel, the Israelites planted their crops, watered them, did their best to keep the weeds out. Everything was going great, took off, but when they were about to harvest them, swarms of locusts came in like a mighty army and ate up all the crops. I'm sure the Israelites were discouraged. It wasn't fair, they'd worked hard, but had nothing to show for.
They made it through the winter, believe that God is still in control - the next year they went out and planted their crops, they thought that setback can't stop us. We didn't have a harvest last year, but God sustained us, we'll have one this year. But when the crops were ready to harvest, here came the locus just like the year before. When they saw them over the horizon, I can imagine how their heart sunk as they sat there and watched millions of locus slowly eat up their crops - it was like pouring salt on the wound. This didn't happen just one year or just 2 years, but 4 consecutive years - their harvest was completely wiped out. They were tempted to think, "There's no use even planting, is not worth the effort. We know what's going to happen, these locusts are going to come right back".
"Joel, I believe for my health to improve, but every time I go for a check up it's the same negative report. I'm being my best at work, but I'm not being promoted". Like them, it feels like your harvest is being eaten. You're doing the right thing, but the locusts keep showing up. While the Israelites were discouraged, thinking they will never see a harvest, God spoke to them through the prophet Joel. He said in effect, "I know it hasn't been fair. I'm seeing what didn't work out. I'm seeing what's been stolen. And I'm not going to just stop the locust, I'm not going to just give you a harvest this season, I'm going to restore the years that were stolen, I'm going to give you this season's harvest plus 4 more harvest seasons". That's how amazing God is he's going to make up for the years that you've lost.
The scripture went on to say (Joel 2:24), "Your threshing floor will be full of grain, your storehouses will overflow with wheat and oil, you will have an abundance and be satisfied". Notice what happens when God restores: abundance, overflow, more than enough. They had been in famine, not seeing any increase, and suddenly God not only turned it around, but he paid them back for the lost years. He made up for what should've been theirs.
God is keeping a record of everything that should've been yours. He knows what you didn't get, he saw you working hard raising those children, making sacrifices, but they haven't turned out like they should. He saw you taking the treatment, keeping a good attitude, praising him when it wasn't improving, thanking him when you didn't feel well. He saw you struggling with the addiction, trying to beat it, going to counseling, quoting the promises, but it hasn't changed, your harvest hasn't come.
Don't worry, it's on the way. God is not going to just free you, just heal you, just turn your children around - he's going to restore the years that you've lost. You're going to still get a harvest from all those years you prayed, those years you believed, those years you did the right thing, you work hard, you helped others. That harvest has been stored up. The enemy may think he took it, but God has the final say, he has blessing stored up for you. When he restores the years, you're going to be more fulfilled than you've ever been. You're going to be healthier, stronger, more energy. You're going to have better relationships than you've ever dreamed. You're going to overflow with blessings, overflow with joy, overflow with favor.
A man I know was married at a young age. They struggled as a young couple, had some rough years, but he was determined to make it work out. He went overboard to love, to forgive, to go the extra mile. They had 2 children, but at one point the wife checked out, she was done. This man keep being his best, raising the children basically by himself. The wife was still there, but she wouldn't have anything to do with him. He kept praying, believing, asking God to turn it around. But on his 20 fit wedding anniversary she left a note saying that she was leaving. This man was so heartbroken. When I saw him it looked like he'd age 20 years. He was normally so upbeat, fun, positive, but it was like all the life had been drained out of him. I tried to encourage him, let him know that there were good days ahead, but he was so down. He said, "I've invested all this time. I poured my heart and soul trying to make my marriage work, and it was all for nothing".
God sees the years you've lost. He knows the pain, the hurt, what wasn't fair. The beauty of our God is he doesn't just heal the wounds, he restores the years. He makes up for what wasn't fair. You may feel like you're in one of those lost years: the pandemic has slowed your business, put your dreams on hold. You're dealing with an illness, a child is off course. You've invested so much, but it looks like it was wasted, the locus came and ate up your harvest. Stay encouraged, payback is coming, God is keeping the records, he knows how to not just restore you, but restore the years that were stolen, the years that were unfair, the years that were lonely, the years you struggled with that depression. When God restores the years, you're not going to look like what you've been through. When he makes up for what should've been yours, nobody is going to know that you had the illness, nobody will know you went through the breakup, you'll be so blessed, so happy, so healthy, nobody will be able to tell.
Over time my friend begin to get his joy back, his passion back, his vision back. Instead of living defeated, he started thanking God that they were beauty for those ashes, that what was meant for harm God was turning to his advantage. 3 years later he met a beautiful young lady, they fell in love and ended up getting married. I'll never forget what he told me. He said "Joel, I have never been this happy in all my life. I never dreamed I could be this fulfilled. I didn't know what a healthy relationship was". What was that? God restoring the years, that were lost. God knows how to make up for what should've been yours. And just because it hasn't happened, doesn't mean that it's not going to happen. God is storing up what belongs to you. I believe, he's about to release some of those stored up blessings.
When he restores the years, you'll see increased that you've never seen, blessings that will catapult you ahead, divine connections, people better that you've ever imagine. Those locus may have eaten up your crop so to speak, they may have taken your harvest. The good news is: it's only temporary. Everything that belongs to you is coming back: the health, the freedom, the promotion, the joy, the victory. It's not coming back like it was, it's going to come back pressed down, shaken together, running over. When God restores the years, like with my friend, your joy will overflow, you'll have an abundance of opportunity, an abundance of resources, an abundance of good health.
The Israelites had been in slavery many years. They were mistreated and forced to work long hours, given quotas that were impossible to meet. Despite how unfair it was, they kept working hard, being their best, but not seeing any increase, no harvest. They thought it was permanent. They had already accepted that they would never be free. But God sees when you're being mistreated, he sees when you're doing the right thing, but the locust or eating your harvest. It may feel like God has forgotten about you, you've accepted that you'll always struggle, always be at a disadvantage, always have that trouble at work. No, your time is coming.
God said in Exodus 3:7-8, "I have seen the affliction of my people, I have heard their cries and I am coming down to deliver them". God was saying in effect "Enough is enough". There will be a time where God says, "That's it. I'm coming down to vindicate you, to heal you, to promote you, to pay you back for what you're owed". The Pharaoh that was holding them captive was very powerful, he had a huge army, the latest equipment, chariots, skilled warriors. The Israelites had none of that, no chance in the natural, they were slaves. But God is not limited by what you don't have, by who is against you, by how powerful the sickness looks, by how long you struggled, by how far that child is of course. Nothing can stand against our God. When he comes down to deliver you, all the forces of darkness cannot stop it.
Don't focus on how big your obstacles, are focused on how big your God is. He flung stars into space, he spoke worlds into existence. He's saying to you what he said to them "I'm coming down to delivery you. I'm coming down to make things happen, that you could make happen. I'm coming down to restore the years that you've lost".
God sent plague after plague on Pharaoh and his people. He was stubborn, but he finally agreed to let them go. I'm sure the Israelites were thrilled to be free, it was a day they never dreamed would happen. They were satisfied to just be leaving, but God wasn't satisfied. He doesn't just bring them out, he restores the years that were stolen. He pays you back for what should have been yours. On their way out, the scripture says God calls the Israelites to have favor with their oppressors, and they gave them their gold, their silver and their clothing. One version says they left loaded down with blessings. What was that? God is paying back for 430 years of working as a slave.
God is keeping the records of what you're owed, of those times you've done the right thing but the locusts ate up your harvest. You did your best, but you didn't get promoted. The loan didn't go through, they anxiety didn't go away. Despite it all you kept believing, praising, being good to others. Like these people your time is coming. God is storing up the harvest that should've been yours. It seems like the locust are eating it, the truth is: what God has for you is still on the way. The joy that should've been yours, those years you were dealing with depression, it's still coming. The resources that should've been yours, those years you were overlooked, they're still on the way. The healing, the good relationships, the victory you missed out on - it is still in your future.
Our daughter Alexandra was born a month and a half before my father went to be with the Lord. During that time he was on dialysis. Many times I would take him up to the clinic, it's a very busy season. Then when he went to be with the Lord, our whole life changed. I was thrust into this position, I was doing my best just to stay afloat. I don't remember very well the first couple of years of Alexandra's life. We were in such transition, I was learning how to minister, try to figure everything out, it consumed me.
Several years later I realized I didn't have the same memories of Alexander's first few years like I did our son Jonathan's. I said almost in passing, "God I'm asking you to restore those years that I lost by being so busy and so preoccupied with other things".
Alexandra was 8 years old when I prayed that, all she wanted to do was to be with me. She would rather go out in the backyard and let me watch do cartwheels, that go over to her friends. Sometimes I needed a break. I say, "Why don't you go swimming with your cousins? Why don't you have your friends over"? She said, "No dad, I want to stay here with you". She'd come up to me all through the day, put her arm around me, walk around the house, we were the best of friends. She's 21 years old now, doesn't know who I am... I'm just kidding, we're still the best of friends!
You know what that was? God restoring the years, making up for lost time. God is going to do that for you. He's going to restore opportunities that you missed, he's going to restore relationships that are not what they should be, he's going to restore the years you lost not making good decisions, giving into compromise. You don't have to live in regrets, thinking you've missed your season, it's too late to accomplish your dreams, to late to have good relationship with your family, there's too much water under the bridge. God knew we would make mistakes, he's not going to just redeem you, he's going to redeem the time, he's going to give me another chance. Don't believe those lies that "You're too old, you've made to many mistakes". You wouldn't be hearing this if God wasn't about to restore the years. He's about to make up for that harvest that you missed.
I have a digital clock on my bathroom counter at home, he gets his information from the satellite. Unlike older clocks that rely on their own software to keep time, these digital clocks come from a master clock, this transmitted from a satellite. A while back I was about to get in the shower one evening and I noticed that it was 9:30. A few minutes later, when I got out of the shower, I looked at the clock it read 9:22. I thought "That's strange. I know it was just 9:30", I thought I must be seeing things. While I was watching it, the clock went back to 9:18. In a few seconds it went to 9:07. It kept backing up.
Now I realized it was getting bad reception, but I've never seen that happen before. What's interesting is that day I had a very busy schedule, I had a lot to do, but I hardly got anything done. I had interruptions, delays, things that didn't work out. That's kind of frustrated, thinking what an unproductive day. When I saw the clock go backwards, it was as if God was saying to me "Joel, quit worrying about what you didn't get done, I control time, I can back things up, I can make up for lost time". You may have missed opportunities, missed relationships, they were there but you were distracted, you weren't focused, they passed you by. Don't worry, God can turn back time. He's about to bring things across your path that should've been yours years ago. You missed it the first time, like I did with Alexandra, the God is about to give you another chance, he's about to turn back time.
I was at a book signing years ago, I met this lady. She and her daughter were estranged, they hadn't spoken to each other in the years. He had reached out to her daughter many times with no success. Now she was discouraged, feeling guilty. She heard me talking about how God can restore the years that were lost, even when it was our fault. How he can turn back time and give us another chance. Faith rose in our hearts, she said "God, do that for me". She kept trying, but the daughter wouldn't have anything to do with her. Months later she came to that book signing. Out of the hundreds of people there, she noticed that her daughter was in line. She hadn't seen her in person in years. She went over to her, it was a divine appointment, they embraced, held on to each other. While they wept healing was taking place. When they came up to the table, they were both still weeping. The mother told how she didn't know her daughter watch this on television. She had no idea she'd be at that book signing, but that was a turning point. Today they're the best of friends, they do everything together.
God knows how to turn back time. It's not too late for you to have good relationships. It's not too late for you to accomplish your dreams. God is about to put you at the right place, at the right time. He's going to make things happen, that you could make happen. That time you lost, beat at odds with people you love - God's about to restore those years. That time you spent fighting the illness, not able to go to work, not pursuing dreams - God is going to turn back time. He's going to make up for what should've been yours. The locus may have eaten your harvest, they may have delayed some things - the good news is: God is going to pay you back, he's going to restore those years of harvest that you missed out on.
One time Joshua and the Israelites were battling 5 armies. God told Joshua that he was going to win. The problem was, they were running out of time. It was about to get dark, and the enemy forces would escape. They could regroup and come against Joshua again. He knew he needed to finish them off, he just needed more time. But instead of being discouraged, thinking it was too late, Joshua was bold: he looked up in the sky and said (Joshua 10:12), "Sun stand still. Moon stay where you are".
I can imagine people looking at Joshua, thinking: are you crazy? You think you can stop time? You can pause the solar system, so you can finish this battle? The scripture says, the sun stopped in the middle of the sky. It stood still until the Israelites defeated their enemies.
It may feel like it's too late for you to accomplish dreams, too late to get your degree, to late to write that book, too late to overcome that obstacle. If you just knew back then what you knew now, then you would have stayed in school. You'd raise the children differently, you'd started that business, if you just had more time. God is going to do for you what he did for Joshua. He's going to freeze time, so you can finish what you started. He's going to help you accomplish what you could've accomplished in an earlier season in life. He's not going to let you miss your destiny. You're not running out of time - time is on your side, because God is on your side. He controls time, he's not limited by a clock, by a calendar, by age, by year.
This is your chance to step up to a new level, your chance to break the addiction, to go back to school, to make your marriage great. God is going to cause you to accomplish more in less time, he's going to make you more effective, more productive, more focused, more skilled. There's going to be a greater favor on your life. Now, don't sit back and think "I waited too long, I'm too old. I don't have the experience, the training, the discipline". No, this is a window like with Joshua, where God is going to freeze time, he's going to give you the opportunity to finish what you started.
I met a lady after the service, she was 103 years old. Her mind was as sharp as can be, she had a great sense of humor. She told how she promised her mother that she would get her college degree, but she got married and spent years raising her children. Then she worked in an office at this large company. After she retired she was busy with the grandchildren. But in the back of her mind, it always bothered her that she didn't keep her promise. She kept putting it off.
In her nineties she started having some health issues. After spending a couple of months in the hospital, it looked like she wasn't going to make it, but somehow she recovered. When she was released, she told the doctors that she was going to go back and get her college degree. She spent 3 years finishing up her degree, and at 103 was the oldest person to ever graduate from that university.
God knows how to freeze things until you accomplish what he put in your heart. It may feel like you're running out of time, but God wouldn't have planned out your days, he wouldn't have given you a destiny and then not giving you the time to fulfill it. It may seem like it's too late, you've missed your season, if you were to pursue that dream 20 years ago - it would have worked. If you would have invested in your marriage, your business, your children back then - you could have accomplished it. No, there's still time.
I wonder what would happen if you would do like Joshua and say "Sun stand still. God, I need more time to spend with my children. I didn't know back then what I know now. I need more time to finish my education. More time to accomplish my dream". God gave Joshua well an extra day to finish his assignment. God said he would restore years that you've lost. You're not running out of time. Time is on your side. I believe and declare: everything God put in your heart will come to pass. What the locust have eaten, all those harvest that belong to you are about to show up. God is about to restore the years that were stolen. You're going to see favor like you've never seen, healing, freedom, breakthroughs, promotion, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.