Joel Osteen - When God Seems Too Late
I want to talk to you today about When God Seems Too Late. We all have things that we're believing for: dreams to come to pass, problems to turn around. We've been praying, standing in faith, but nothing is happening. Now it seems like we've missed our chance. "It's too late to have a baby. It's too late to start my business. Too late to break this addiction, I've had it so long", but many times God waits on purpose 'till the odds are against us, he waits till the obstacle is too big, so when he turns it around there won't be any doubt it was his favor, his healing, his power, making a way where there was no way. Don't be discouraged when it seems too late, you don't see how it could happen - you're in prime position for God to show out in your life.
God told Abraham when he was a hundred years old that he was going to have a baby. Abraham's wife Sarah was barren, she had never had children, plus she had gone through the change of life. God could have given Abraham this promise when he was 30 years old, when Sarah was in her prime to have a child, or when he was 40 a more normal age to have a baby. He's God, he has everything strategically planned out down to the smallest details. It's not like he forgot, or he miscalculated, "Oh, I meant to give them this promise years earlier, why did I wait so long"? God on purpose waited for the odds to be against them. He on purpose waited till they were at that age. On purpose he chose Sarah who was barren, not able to have children.
Maybe God has put promises in your heart that seemed too late. You don't see how you can get well, how your child can get back on course, how you'll meet the right person. God didn't miscalculate, he didn't accidentally choose the wrong person. God let the odds be against you on purpose. He let it seem like it's too late, too big, too far gone. You're right where Abraham was: a baby when my wife is barren? A baby at a hundred years old? God let the circumstances seem impossible, then he said "Now, Abraham I'm going to bless you". God doesn't do things on a normal schedule, a normal time-frame, he has some unscheduled blessings from you, things that are out of season, out of the ordinary, things that shouldn't happen now.
"Joel, I'm past my prime. The medical report says it's too late. The financial experts say things should be down", that's when God steps in and says "Let me show you who I am: I am not limited by time, I'm not affected by the economy, I'm not restricted by your age, your background, the opposition, by how long it's been - I control the universe. When I speak wombs come back to life. When I speak Red Seas part. When I speak sicknesses lead. When I speak Compaq Centers open up. When I speak addictions are broken, marriages are restored, opportunities show up".
When thoughts tell you "It's too late. It's never going to happen now", let that go in one ear and out the other. God is faithful. What he promised you is still in route. You may not see any sign of it, every circumstance says there's no way, things are happening that you can't see. In the unseen realm God is moving the wrong people out of the way, lining up the healing, the favor, the good breaks - they're already on your schedule. But here's the key: if you could see how it was going to happen, that wouldn't take any faith. If God would have promised Abraham a baby at 30 years old, that would have been great, but that wasn't unusual.
God is going to put promises in your heart that are out of the ordinary, things that seem unlikely, too big: too much money, too much opposition. Now it's up to you what you do with that promise. Are you going to dismiss it? "I think that's not for me. No way that can happen now. Me get well now? Start my business now? Meet the right person now? Do you know how long I've been single? God where were you 20 years earlier"? How do you know that God has not waited on purpose? How do you know, like Abraham and Sarah, that God didn't let the odds be against you for a reason? He's saying to you what he said to them "Now I'm going to bless you. Now I'm going to heal you. Now I'm going to turn that child around. Now, at this season in your life, I'm going to cause your business to take off".
Why don't you receive that into your spirit? It's not too late. You haven't missed your chance. God waited so he can show out in your life. He wants to make you an example of his goodness. If he did it at a normal time no one would have noticed. If he did it under ordinary circumstances it would have been no big deal.
Get ready for some unscheduled blessings, out of season increase, not at-the-normal-time promotion. Promises that you've given up on, dreams you've let go of, you've accepted it's too late to accomplish that goal, too late to break the addiction, too late to have that baby - that may be true looking at it on a normal schedule, you don't see it there, but God is saying "It's still on my schedule. I still have a way to bring it to pass. I wouldn't have promised it if I wasn't going to do it". Now all through the day "Father, thank you that what you started in my life you will finish. It may seem too late for me, but Lord, I know it's not too late for you. Thank you for these unscheduled blessings, blessings out of season".
When Abraham heard that he was going to have a child, the scripture (Genesis 17:17-18) says he laughed to himself, said "God, how can I become a father at the age of one hundred, and Sarah is ninety, how can she have a baby"? It was so far out that it was almost comical. Abraham didn't tell Sarah anything about it, he knew she would have thought he had lost his mind. But not long after that, Sarah overheard three men talking with Abraham. They said "By this time next year Sarah will have a son". When she heard that, she nearly passed out. She did like Abraham. She laughed and said "God, how could a worn out woman like me have a baby, plus my husband is an old man"? She was saying "If you think I'm bad, you should see my husband. God you found the wrong couple. You showed up too late. You better find someone 50 years younger than us". She didn't think there was any possible way it could happen.
Genesis 18:13, "God said to Abraham, 'why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say can an old woman like me have a baby? Is there anything too hard for the Lord?'"
Sometimes God puts promises in our heart that are so big, so unlikely, it's almost funny. All we can do is laugh. "God you want me to step up and pastor the church, and I've only ministered one time? God you're saying we're going to get the Compaq Center, do you know how big the opposition is? You're saying I'm going to lend and not borrow, have you seen my finances? Do you know we're in the middle of a pandemic? Or God, you say my children will be mighty in the land, have you seen what they've been doing lately? Are you sure you have the right children"? God is saying to you what he said to Abraham "Is there anything too hard for the Lord"? He spoke worlds into existence. He parted Red Seas, he cured lepers, he brought the dead back to life. What you're up against is no match for him. One touch of his favor and you'll see promotion, healing, breakthroughs, divine connections.
Genesis 21:1-2 says "The Lord did exactly what he promised. Sarah became pregnant and had a son in her old age". The next phrase is the key "It all happened at the time God said it would". God on purpose waited for them to be older. On purpose he waited for the odds to be against them, so much so that they both laughed, they both thought it was impossible. You would think God would say "Okay, fine, if you don't believe it's going to happen, if you think it's too far out, I'll go find someone else", but God is so merciful: even when we don't believe, even when our faith is limited, God steps in and says "I'm going to do it anyway. I'm going to show you favor anyway. I'm going to heal you anyway. I'm going to turn it around anyway".
I know sometimes I've had the faith, I've released my faith, I've believed, I've expected and I've seen God do great things. But there are plenty of times where I didn't have the faith. I thought it was too far out, I thought the opposition was too big. But despite my lack of faith God showed out in my life. That's how good God is. If he only blessed us when we believed, we wouldn't reach our destiny. Like with Abraham and Sarah, God is going to do exactly what he promised, at the time he has planned. It may seem too late, but that's how God planned. It it may look impossible, that's how God planned it. The medical report may not be good. You had a setback in your finances. The odds are against you. That doesn't stop our God. You haven't missed your chance. The window hasn't closed. An unscheduled blessing is coming, and out of season promotion is already in route. Healing, breakthroughs, the right people, they're already on your calendar. It's going to happen at the time God has planned.
Sarah said in verse 7 "Who would have ever thought an old woman like me would have a baby"? God has some of these who-would-have-ever-thought blessings lined up for you. Who-would-have-ever-thought my business would take off like this? Who-would-have-ever-thought I would meet someone this amazing? Who-would-have-ever-thought I'd feel this good again? Or how about who-would-have-ever-thought we would be meeting in the former Compaq Center this morning? Who-would-have-ever-thought my mother would still be with us 40 years after being diagnosed with terminal cancer?
Sarah went from laughing and unbelief, thinking she was too old, to laughing with great joy, holding the baby, seeing the goodness of God. And some of the promises that God had put in your heart may seem like it can't happen now, it's too late, you tried and it didn't work out - it's still on the schedule. It hasn't happened yet for a reason, it wasn't the right time. Like with Sarah, one day you're going to be holding that baby so to speak, holding that promise, saying "Who would have ever thought God would have blessed me like this"? You're going to stand in amazement at what God has in your future.
Now quit believing the lies that if it was going to happen if it would have happened by now. "If you're going to get well, come on, you would have got well by now. If you're going to get that good break, meet the right person, write that book, surely it would have happened by now, look how long it's been". Psalm 37:34 says, "Don't be impatient for the Lord to act. Keep traveling steadily along his path and in due season he will honor you with every blessing". This is saying: if you'll keep doing the right thing, then everything that has your name on it is coming in. There's healing with your name on it, there's a business with your name on it, or a baby with your name on it. How about a husband, a wife with your name on it?
Don't be impatient. It hasn't happened yet? It wasn't supposed to happen yet. "Well, Joel, I'm getting too old, I think I've missed my season". No, you're coming into your season. "Well these people at work they turned on me, they always leave me out". They were supposed to leave you out. It's not setting you back, it's setting you up. Keep honoring God and every blessing that has your name on it is coming in. People can't stop it, bad breaks can't stop it, age can't stop it, time can't stop it, the economy can't stop it, forces of darkness can't stop it. Like Sarah your womb may be dead so to speak, in the natural it's too late, it shouldn't happen now, but God knows how to bring a dead womb back to life. He can bring dead dreams back to life, a dead relationship, dead finances, dead health, not feeling well. When it's your time to give birth, God will resurrect everything you need to see that baby. Not only your womb, but he'll wake up the Abrahams, the people you need to fulfill your destiny.
I talked to a young lady. She grew up as a healthy child, very active, but at the age of 11 she had a pain in her side that wouldn't go away. She had her appendix taken out, but that didn't help. She continued to go downhill, losing 30 pounds in a few weeks. The doctors were baffled and couldn't figure out what was wrong. She got to where she couldn't swallow. She lost movement in her legs and arms. She ended up in the hospital in a vegetative state, not able to open her eyes or communicate in any way. She was finally diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder that caused swelling on her brain.
Her parents were told that she would be in a coma the rest of her life, she probably wouldn't live that long. Against all odds they believed that God was still in control, that he was still a healer. Month after month they sat by her bed and talked to her, speaking faith into her. Two years later she woke up on the inside. She still couldn't move, but she was aware of everything that was happening. She could hear the experts telling her parents that she was gone, there was no chance of recovery. And she could hear her mother telling her how she loved her, and how she was going to make it.
Every Sunday morning her mother would turn on our program. This young lady would hear how God is a healer, and how he can do what medicine cannot do. In her mind instead of feeling sorry for herself she would say "I'm a victor and not a victim. God is restoring health back into me". Thoughts would tell her "You're trapped, you're never going to get out". She would answer back "No, my time is coming, this is not how my story ends". It seemed like God was too late, in a coma, trapped in her own body, not able to communicate, but God has the final say. And sometimes he'll let the odds be way against you just so he can show his power, his favor, his blessing in amazing ways.
Three years later she opened her eyes. That was the start of a long journey back. She learned to speak again, eat again, move again. Everything came back except her legs, she was paralyzed from the waist down. And she was happy that she was out, grateful to be in a wheelchair, but she wasn't satisfied. She knew what God started he would finish. She was told that she would never be able to walk, but through prayer, hard work, training she defied the odds and took her first steps. Today my friend Victoria Arlen can not only walk, but she can run. She was on dancing with the stars. She's one of ESPN's youngest on-air personalities. She started an organization called "Victoria's Victory Foundation", where she inspires others to overcome obstacles and live the victorious life that belongs to them.
Is there anything too hard for the Lord? Just because it seems like God is too late doesn't mean he's not going to come through. Don't be fooled by the circumstances. You may not see anything, the odds are against you, the experts say "It's not going to work out" - God controls the universe. Don't be impatient for him to act, keep believing, keep praying, and every blessing that belongs to you will show up. You won't have to go after it, it's going to come to you. It's going to happen at the time God has planned.
John chapter 11, Mary and Martha sent word to their good friend Jesus, that their brother Lazarus was very sick. Jesus was in another city. They asked if he would come and pray for Lazarus. A day went by and Jesus didn't show up. I can imagine Mary asking her assistant "Did you tell him it was me"? "Yes, we told him". "Did you let him know it was urgent"? "Yes, we did". Another day passed, he didn't come, and another and another. Finally Lazarus died. On the fourth day Jesus showed up. What do you do when God shows up too late? You prayed, you believed, but the problem didn't turn around, the business didn't make it, your health didn't get better?
Martha was so upset, she rushed out to meet him, said (John 11:21), "Jesus, if you would have been here sooner my brother would not have died". She was saying "How could you do this to us? We're your friends! When we needed you the most you let us down"! They thought that Jesus didn't care, that he was too busy, preoccupied with others. But the scripture (John 11:35) says, "Jesus wept". He could have gone straight to the tomb and raise Lazarus, but his tears let them know that he cared. He wept because he loved Lazarus. He wept because he felt the sorrow, the heaviness that they were all feeling.
When God shows up late thoughts will tell you "God doesn't even care about you. How could he let this happen? Look at all this pain, this heartache, he could have stopped it". Don't believe those lies. The scripture (Psalm 56:8), says "God collects all of your tears in his bottle". He feels what you feel: the loneliness, the heartache. He weeps when you weep. His heart breaks when your heart breaks. You're his child. If you're a parent, you know when your child is hurting, you hurt with them. God is your Heavenly Father.
He told them to roll away the stone. Lazarus had been dead for four days. Martha said "Lord, it's going to stink". Sometimes you have to get to the stinky stuff before God will heal you. You have to be real, and deal with what God is bringing to light. Jesus spoke to Lazarus. He didn't pray. Some things you need to pray about, but some things you need to speak to. He said "Lazarus, come forth". All of a sudden Lazarus came back to life. Mary and Martha were praying for a healing, but Jesus had something better in mind - a resurrection. And sometimes the reason God delays is he's going to do something better than you think, something bigger, more rewarding. From that day forward no one ever saw Lazarus the same way, no one ever saw Mary and Martha the same way, they had a new respect, a greater influence, greater honor.
Like them you may be wondering "Why is God so late? Why hasn't my health improved? When is my business going to get better? When is this trouble going to resolve"? You're believing for a healing - God is delaying because he has a resurrection coming. He has something much better than what you have in mind. Trust him when you don't see anything happening. Believe when heaven is silent. He's working behind the scenes. Every blessing that has your name on it, if you will be patient, it's not only going to find you, it's going to be much better than you think. The delay is a sign that God is up to something big, it's a sign that he's about to show out in your life.
The mistake we make too often is we get discouraged in the delays, we believe those lies that "God's not concerned about me. He would have been here by now. Does he even know what I'm going through"? The scripture says "God sees every sparrow, every little bird that falls to the ground, how much more does he see you". You're his child. He made you in his image. He calls you a masterpiece. He sees what you're going through. He's concerned and he's coming. At the time he has planned, in your due season you're going to see healing, freedom, breakthroughs, abundance, more than you've imagined.
After Jesus rose from the dead, Peter was out fishing. He'd spent the last few years with Jesus as one of his close friends. He never dreamed it would end with Jesus being crucified. He was a little discouraged and confused, so he went back to doing what he did before Jesus called him. He had fished all night, and had caught nothing. The next morning as they were coming in, Jesus was on the beach. He shouted "Have you caught anything"? They didn't recognize him. They told him "No". He said "Throw your net on the right side of the boat, and you'll catch plenty of fish". When they did, they caught so many fish that they couldn't pull it all in.
Peter looked over and realized it was Jesus. He jumped in the water and swam to shore. When he arrived he could smell something so tasty, so appetizing - Jesus was cooking fish. He told Peter to sit down and have breakfast with him, he served him grilled fish. What Peter couldn't catch all night, now he not only has a whole boatload of fish, but Jesus has already cooked it and prepared it for him.
When you go through a delay, you fished all night and nothing is working, you're wondering where God is? How come I'm not getting any good breaks? If you'll keep doing the right thing, God is not only going to give you an abundance, but you're going to come into some prepared blessings, fish that's already cooked, promotion waiting for you, the right people, the business. You're not going to have to make it happen, start from scratch, it's all going to fall into place. I can smell something in the air: I smell fresh fish, I smell prepared blessings, you've had delays? You're wondering where God is? He's cooking your fish. He's got the fire on. He's about to offer you breakfast so to speak. You're about to see what God has been up to.
Now don't be impatient for God to act, keep honoring him, and every blessing that has your name on it is coming in. Nobody is getting your fish. Sometimes when God is not showing up, we're not seeing things happen, we feel like we're falling behind, others are getting ahead. But God has all the fish that belong to you. You tried all night so to speak, you caught nothing, it's been months, or even years? You haven't seen good breaks, promotion, things turning around? Don't worry your fish are being stored up.
He told them to throw their net on the right side of the boat. That means they're not far away. You don't have to do something drastically different, God is going to bless you where you are. He's going to cause the fish to find you. Not a little bit, but a great haul of fish. Now you may be in a dry season, things are not changing - God sees your faithfulness. He hasn't forgotten about you. He's going to make up for what hasn't happened. Like with Mary and Martha, not a healing but a resurrection. I believe and declare: boatloads of blessings are coming your way, prepared blessings, favor, healing, the right people. Like with Sarah who-would-have-ever-thought blessings, dreams bigger than you've imagined, problems that look impossible suddenly turning around, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.