Joel Osteen - The Best is Next
I want to talk to you today about The Best Is Next. It's easy to get satisfied where we are. When we've seen blessing and favor, God's protected us, promoted us, open doors, we can start thinking that we've seen our best days. But God never does his greatest feats in your yesterdays, they are always in your future. The scripture says: the path of the righteous gets brighter and brighter. What God has in front of you is more fulfilling, more rewarding than anything you've seen in the past. But sometimes before it gets brighter, it gets darker. Before we see more than enough, we go through a season of not enough. There are times the good has to come to an end to make room for the best.
Doesn't make sense to us: "Why did my business slow down? Why did this person walk away? Why did this door close"? It's all a part of God's plan. He's shaking things up to move you out of the good into the best. If he didn't close those doors, you wouldn't see the fullness of your destiny. We may not like the process, it's uncomfortable, we're doing the right thing but the wrong thing is happening. We're working hard, but not seeing increase. Thoughts will tell you, "It's never going to get better". Don't believe those lies, that disappointment, the breakup, the slow season didn't stop what God has for you, it's getting you in position for favor that you've never seen.
Your relationship didn't work out, God knew it was going to happen, that didn't catch him off guard, he's already lined up someone better than you can imagine. Your business has slowed down, the contract didn't work out - that setback is not stopping you, it's setting you up for new levels. You're going to come out not like you were before, but healthier, stronger, promoted, increased.
John chapter 2, Jesus was at a wedding in Galilee. It was a big celebration with hundreds of people, everything was going great, until they ran out of wine. His mother came and told him about the problem. Jesus had not performed any miracles in public up to this point, but she knew something about Jesus that others didn't know. She told the staff to do whatever he asked them to do. There were six large water pots over to the side, they held 30 gallons each, Jesus told the men to go fill them with water.
I can imagine them thinking, "What good is that going to do"? But instead of talking themselves out of it, they filled the containers up, they brought them back to Jesus. He said "Now, dip some out, and take it to the host of the wedding, to the man that's in charge". Verse 9 says, "When the host tasted the water that was now wine, he called the groom over and said, 'usually the host serves the best wine first, then when everyone is full and doesn't know any better, he brings out the less expensive wines, but you have saved the best until now".
Notice how God works: if the wine had not run out, if they had not come to the end of what they were used to, they would have never seen the best wine. God saves the best for next. You may feel like you're coming to an end: you're running out of opportunity, doors are closing, running out of favor, what used to work is not working, running out of resources, having a hard time making ends meet. Maybe you're running out of strength, you feel weary, you can't take it anymore - this may sound odd, but you're in a good place. When you come to the end, that's when God steps in. And not just helps you to get through it, but he says "I've saved the best for next". The best position, the best relationships, the best in your finances - you have more than you've ever had. The best in your health: you feel better than you've ever felt. The best in your family: you're happier than you've ever been.
The fact that things are running out doesn't mean that God has forgotten about you, you must not have favor, you must have done something wrong - no, it's a sign that God is about to do something that you've never seen. One translation says (John 2:3), "She said to Jesus, we have no more wine". Sometimes we feel like we have no more: no more strength, no more vision, no more health - that's okay, there are seasons where you come to the end, you run out of a good thing. The first wine the people had was fine, nobody complained, they were blessed, having a great celebration, but the wine was supposed to run out. It was a part of God's plan. If it didn't run out, they would have never seen the best wine.
What runs out in your life is not a surprise to God. The relationship that didn't make it, the company that let you go, the loved one you lost, the health that went down - that doesn't mean that you've seen your best days, just sit back, endure it - it means that new levels of favor are coming, new levels of your destiny, better health, better opportunities, better relationships. God doesn't bring you out the same. You're going to look back and say like that host "You've saved the best until now". That person that walked away, don't get bitter, they had to go so the best could show up. When you see what God does, who he brings, you'll say "I'm glad that old wine ran out. I'm glad that old goat left... I mean that old boyfriend left, look what the Lord has done".
Those co-workers that played politics, kept you from the promotion, made you look bad - you thought you ran out of favor, that God had forgotten about you - that had to happen. When you see the new door God opens, how he promotes you in the presence of your enemies, how he gives you influence and favor that you've never seen, you'll say "Lord, thank you, you've saved the best until now. You've taken me where I can't go on my own".
Don't be discouraged when something is running out, you feel like you're at the end, you've studied your situation, tried to come up with a solution, but you've run out of options. You don't see how your business can still make it, how your marriage will last, how your health will ever turn around - when you come to the end, it's a good thing. When you can't figure out a solution, that's when God steps in. You had to run out of wine, before you could see the best wine. You had to come to an end, so God can take it to a new level, so he can open doors bigger than you've imagined, so he can give you health, strength, joy, peace like you've never seen. The best is not behind you, the best is next.
Now it may look just the opposite. When you're running low, when you've come to the end, thoughts will tell you "It's all downhill from now. You're running out of time, you can't accomplish your dream. You're running out of favor, business is slowing down. You're running out of strength, this pandemic is going to sink you". Well, the only reason you're running out is because God saved the best for next. Keep the right perspective, "Father, this looks like an end, but I know it's a sign that you're about to show out in my life".
Weddings during that time could go on for several days. When Jesus showed up, they could have been there enjoying the first wine for days. They were happy, the first wine was good, no one was complaining, but if the good one had not run out - they wouldn't have seen the best. When life is good for us, we're happy, our children are blessed, we're seeing favor, we have no complaints. But sometimes things change, we're facing an illness, a child gets off course, a friend we were counting on walks away. It's easy to live discouraged, feel like we're going backwards, running out of favor, running out of health - there's only one reason you're running out: the good is about to give way to the best. God loves you too much to leave you with just good wine. That's fine for a season, but at some point you will come to an end, so he can show out in your life in a greater way.
It's significant that God could have given them the same wine, that would have been a great miracle, we would be telling that story that God can restore. When you run out, he can give you more. That's good, but God is so loving, so merciful. He doesn't just bring you out the same, he gives you the best wine. The best is simply something that you've never seen, favor that you've never seen, health that you've never seen, opportunity, influence, finances. The best is in front of you. After you see that best, then God will give you something better, a new best. That's what it means he's taken you from glory to glory. Now in between those glories, there will be these seasons where you feel like you have no more, nothing more to give, no more creativity, no more resources, no more options. There's nothing wrong with saying "God, I have no more, I'm running out".
See, Jesus said in Matthew 5:3, the message translation, "You are blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you, there is more of God and his favor". That seems odd: we're blessed when we're at the end? Why would Jesus say we're blessed when the contract doesn't go through? We're blessed when that person walks away? We're blessed when we don't have the strength? It's because when you're at the end, when you've run out of options, when you don't have any more wine, that's when God shows up and gives you the best wine. That's when he does more than you can imagine.
A friend of mine played professional football for many years. He was very popular, great player, well-liked. When he retired he was hired by his team to help develop the players, and keep them motivated. For years he was very successful, the coaches, the players, the team, they all loved him. You couldn't find a more talented, kind, loyal person - he was exceptional. Always going the extra mile, while he was playing and working for the team, he volunteered here at Lakewood as faithful as can be. Life was good for him, he was seeing favor, increase, blessings.
But one day this team hired a new manager. He didn't like my friend. He saw how popular he was, he started poisoning the staff, spreading things that weren't true. He did all he could to try to make my friend quit. He was very manipulative, dishonest, eventually he fired my friend. It was very unfair, very hurtful. I called my friend to encourage him, he was disappointed, but he wasn't discouraged. He understood this principle, that when the old wine runs out, that means the best one is coming, something that you've never seen. That's why you shouldn't fight every closed door, people that did you wrong, seasons that slow down. You're not seeing the favor that you once did - these things have to happen for you to see the best wine, for you to see greater favor, greater influence.
As much as we don't like it, the people that do us wrong, the bad breaks, the betrayals, the disappointments, they are all a part of God's plan. God is not only ordering your steps, he's ordering the steps of those you need to fulfill your purpose. We know God ordered Jesus steps, but he also ordered Judas's steps. Without Judas betraying Jesus, we wouldn't have salvation. Without Goliath coming against David, David would have never taken the throne. Without my father going to be with the Lord, something that I didn't like, I would have never stepped up to pastor the church. When things run out in your life, instead of complaining, being bitter, keep the right perspective: it had to run out, so you can see the best wine, so you can step up to who you were created to be.
My friend stayed on the high road, and the whole time his supervisor was trying to make him look bad, engage him in conflict, he wouldn't take the bait. He moved someone into his office without asking him - my friend didn't say a word. He left resumes on my friend's desk for his same position, trying to intimidate him - my friend ignored it. When he was fired, he wouldn't talk to the press, he didn't make the man look bad, he let God fight his battles, he knew God was his vindicator. He sent me a list of the declarations that he made every day, "No weapon formed against me will prosper. I will look in triumph at those that have hated me. What was meant for my harm, God is turning to my advantage".
What you're doing in the running out seasons is very important. If you go around bitter, discouraged, trying to get even - that's going to keep you where you are.
About six months after he was fired, he received a phone call from the NFL, offering him a position: doing the same thing not for one team but, for multiple teams over a whole region. Now the NFL, the biggest sports league in the world is behind him, he has incredible influence and favor. That would have never happened if the old wine had not run out. When doors close, when things slow down, when people turn on you - stay in peace, God knows what he's doing. You're coming to an end not because it's over, but because the best is next, favor that you haven't seen, opportunity that you didn't expect, increase, strength, creativity, good health, more than you can imagine.
When the wine ran out at the wedding, Jesus asked them to fill the empty pots with water. That seemed odd, they needed wine, not water. But sometimes God will ask you to do things you don't understand. He has the best wine ready, he has something that you haven't seen, but it's dependent on your obedience: will you do what he's asking you to do? It may be to forgive someone, that did you wrong. That doesn't make sense, they hurt you, you have a right to be bitter - that will keep you from the best wine. It may be to step out in faith when you don't feel qualified, to teach that class, to start that business, to mentor that young person. Or maybe like my friend, it's to keep a good attitude, when you're not being treated right, to stay on the high road, to let God fight your battles. It's easy to try to pay people back, make them look bad, do to them what they're doing to you. No, trust God to be your vindicator. He can vindicate you better than you can vindicate yourself.
This man that was so against my friend, so dishonest, not long ago he was fired by the team in a very public way. Everything that he had been doing: the schemes, the backbiting, the jealousy, that all came to light. Now he's out, and my friend is in. Not in the same position, but in something much better. People can't stop your destiny, closed doors can't stop your purpose, bad grace can't keep you from what God has ordained. When the wine runs out, keep doing what God asks you to do: keep being good to people, keep giving, serving, expecting. The wine running out is a sign that the best one is coming.
There was a widow in the Old Testament, her husband had died and now she was living alone with her son. They did fine for a while, going along with no problems, then a drought came. Their crops dried up, their income went down. She used the funds that her husband had left, now those funds had run out. It was a perfect storm: she had no income, no savings, no food, no grace, groceries, she came to the end. She was preparing for her last meal. She and her son were going to eat it, they had already accepted the fact that this would be it. The prophet Elijah saw her out picking up sticks to make a fire. He said "Ma'am, do me a favor, I'm hungry. Will you make me something to eat"? I'm sure she's thought "You got to be kidding". She said, "Elijah, I promise you, all I have is a little flower, a little oil. We've exhausted all of our resources. We just have enough for my son and i. Once I cook this meal, we're done".
Elijah asked her to do something that seems selfish. He said "Go ahead, and make that last meal, but make me a little loaf of bread first". She could have thought "We're about to starve to death, and you want me to feed you, before I feed myself and my son? I'm not going to do that". Instead she took a step of faith, and cooked him a meal first. Elijah ate that meal, and said (1 kings 17:14), "The Lord God of Israel says, there will always be plenty of flower and plenty of oil in your cabinets, until the time the Lord sends rain and the crops begin to produce again". From that day forward, week after week, month after month, for three and a half years the oil never ran out, the flower container was never empty. She had supernatural provision. She went from running out to running over.
The running out is a sign that running over is coming. You may feel like you're running out of strength today, you're weary from everything that's going on - get ready, running over strength is coming, strength that you've never felt, energy like you've never seen. You're running out of resources, business has slowed down - get ready, running over resources are headed your way. You're running out of favor, not getting any good breaks, stuck in your career - because you honor God, running over favor is coming, running over blessings, running over opportunities. That means you have so many opportunities, you can't take them all, you have to choose which ones you want.
Elijah said (1 kings 17:13), "Make me a meal first". God is saying: "Keep me first place in your life". When you wake up in the morning, don't meet with anyone until you first meet with God. Take time to thank him for the day, thank him for who he is, thank him that he's the giver of all good things, your protector, your provider, your healer, your Waymaker. All through the day, under your breath you can talk to God "Lord, thank you for watching over my children today. Thank you for helping me at work. Lord, thank you for helping me make good decisions". The scripture says: if you'll acknowledge God in all your ways, he'll crown your efforts with success.
And every time God asks you to do a hard thing, that means there's a big blessing coming. It was a sacrifice for this lady to make Elijah a meal first, that took trust, courage, faith. Wasn't easy for the workers to go fill the water pots with water, thoughts were telling them "You're wasting your time". They had to fight off doubt, fight negative thoughts. But when you choose to obey, when you do the right thing when it's hard, you're setting yourself up for God to show out in your life, to see supernatural favor, supernatural healing, supernatural provision.
A few years after I started pastoring the church began to grow, and we needed a larger auditorium. My father said he would never move Lakewood. I was new, I wasn't about to rock the boat, so I started looking for land around our other location. We found a hundred acres that was right off the freeway, about two miles from the old location, it seemed perfect. A few months later we went to close on the property, signed all the papers, the secretary walked out and said "I'm sorry, but the owner of this property sold it last night".
I couldn't believe it. He didn't keep his word, I was so discouraged. I went home, told Victoria - she started preaching one of my messages back to me, "Joel, this closed door means God has something better. We're going to stay in faith". I didn't want to hear that, I wanted the property. A couple of months later we found another 100 acres, seemed like a better location, had better access from the freeway - I knew that's why God shut the door. We went to close on the property, the same thing happened. They sold it to someone else. We were running out of options, there weren't any more large tracts of land off the freeway in that area. But sometimes God won't step in until you run out of options, that old wine has to run out.
I was tempted to live stressed, and worried, but I could hear that still small voice saying "Joel, trust me. I'm still in control". I didn't see how it could happen, but God has ways that we've never thought of. His plan for your life is better than your own. What we think is the best, many times is far less than what God has in mind. I was hoping to find land to build an auditorium, I never dreamed God would give us one already built, on the busiest freeway, the most visible, the most attended, one of the most prestigious facilities in our city, the former Compaq Center.
I was complaining about running out of options, all the while God had something better than I ever imagined. Can I tell you? You haven't seen your best days. You may feel stuck, doors have closed, the wine has run out - that all happened for a reason. It had to run out, so you could see the best wine. The best part of your life is not behind you, the best part of your life is the next part of your life. You haven't seen, heard or imagined what God has in store. You wouldn't be discouraged over that closed door, if you knew what God was about to open. You wouldn't be stressed over that deal that fell through, if you knew your Compaq Center was up ahead. You would put God first place with no problem, you would make that prophet a meal, you would obey, if you knew supernatural provision is coming.
Sometimes we feel like we're running out of time: "It's too late to accomplish my dream, I miss my chance, I made too many mistakes, I'm too old". That's the way Caleb probably felt. He was one of the spies that came back from the Promised Land, and told Moses that they were well able to take the land, that they should go in at once. But the negative report from the other ten spies caused everyone to get discouraged, they turned around and went back into the desert. Caleb was 40 years old at the time. For 45 years he wandered in the desert.
The interesting thing is: it wasn't his fault. He had faith, he was courageous, he was obedient, it looked like other people stopped his dream, their negative report kept him from his destiny. The good news is: what God started, he's going to finish. What he promised, he's going to bring to pass. At 85 years old God said, "Caleb, I haven't forgotten about you. I said you'd go into the Promised Land, you're still going to go in".
There were three giants living on that land. Caleb could have said, "God, give me another place. Those people are too big, I'm too old now". No, don't settle for a watered down version of your dream. At 85 Caleb said, "God, I still want that mountain". He went out and defeated those three giants, and made it into the Promised Land.
It's not too late to become all you were created to be. God hasn't forgotten about the dreams he put in your heart. You're not running out of time, you're running into time. God is ordering your steps. Opportunities that didn't happen years earlier, you didn't miss it, it wasn't the right time. The door had to close, the people had to be against you, the business had to not make it - it was all setting you up for the best wine. God saves the best for next.
I believe and declare: you're about to come in to some best - best opportunity, best relationship, best health, best resources. Like this widow woman, because you keep God first place, you're going to go from running out to running over, from not enough to more than enough. Your latter days will be better than your former days. Get ready - the best is next, in Jesus name.