God bless you. It’s a joy to come into your homes. And if you’re ever in our area, please stop by. Be a part of one of our services. I promise you, we’ll make you feel right at home. I like to start with something funny, and I heard about this pastor. He found this small box hidden in his wife’s closet. He opened it up, and there were six eggs and a thousand one-dollar bills. He asked his wife about it. She explained how every time he preached a bad sermon, she put an egg in the box. After 35 years of ministry, he felt pretty good about himself. Only six bad sermons. He asked what the thousand dollars was. She said, “Every time I got a dozen eggs, I sold them for a dollar.”
Say it like you mean it. This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I have what it says I have. I can do what it says I can do. Today, I will be taught the word of God. I’ll boldly confess. My mind is alert. My heart is receptive. I will never be the same, in Jesus’ name. God bless you.
I want to talk to you today about prepared in the process. When Victoria and I found out we were pregnant with our first son Jonathan, we were so excited. We called our parents, told our friends. Over the next few weeks, we started getting the baby’s room together, moving furniture around. All we could think about was this baby was on the way. Six months later, Victoria’s feet started swelling. Her back started hurting. She couldn’t sleep well at night. Some mornings, she was nauseated.
Suppose we went back to the doctor and said, “Doctor, something’s wrong with Victoria. She’s gaining all this weight. Her feet are swelling. She’s uncomfortable. Will you give us something to make it go away?” he’d say, “No, I’m sorry. It’s all a part of the process.” If you’re going to have birth, you have to go through a season of being uncomfortable. You may not like gaining the weight, but it’s necessary. It’s making room for what’s coming. Your feet may swell. Your back may hurt. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s not unusual. Without the process, you wouldn’t be prepared.
It’s the same principle in life. We all have dreams God has placed in our heart, goals we want to accomplish. We know we’re pregnant, but too often, we get discouraged by the process. It’s taking longer than we thought. We had some bad breaks. We went through a loss. Somebody did us wrong. We think, “This couldn’t be right. I’m uncomfortable.” But like a pregnancy, it’s a part of the process. Everything you go through, every struggle, every disappointment, every delay, if you’ll keep the right attitude, that’s depositing something in you. It’s making you stronger. It’s developing your character. It’s growing you up.
Here’s the key. You’re anointed before you’re appointed. There’s going to be a preparation period between the time God puts the dream in your heart and the time that it comes to pass. Just because you’re anointed doesn’t mean the appointing is going to come. It’s up to us to pass these tests, to be willing to go through the pregnancy, the uncomfortable seasons, the lonely times when we don’t understand it. We’re doing the right thing, but we’re not making progress. This is when many people give up on their dreams. They were pregnant, they were anointed, but because they wouldn’t go through the preparation process, they never gave birth. They never saw the appointing come.
In the scripture, David was anointed to be the next king of Israel at the age of 17. The prophet Samuel travelled to his house, chose David out of all the other brothers, poured the oil on his head. David was excited. It was a destiny moment. But what’s interesting is after David was anointed, after he was given this incredible promise, where did David go? To the palace? To get his royal robe? To meet his new staff? He went back to the shepherd’s fields. He was anointed, but not appointed. He found out he was pregnant, so to speak, but he had to go through the preparation process. He had to pass the test of doing a menial task, taking care of his father’s sheep, feeding them day in and day out, shoveling their waste. It smelled badly. It was lonely. It seemed unfair. His brothers who weren’t anointed by Samuel, they were in the military. They had prestigious positions. Everyone looked up to them.
David could have thought, “I’m not going back to the shepherd’s fields. I’m the next king.” But David understood this principle. He had to show God he would be faithful when it wasn’t exciting. He had to pass the test of being good to King Saul, even though Saul was jealous and trying to kill David. David could have said, “God, this isn’t right. Look at him. You got to get rid of Saul. I’m uncomfortable.” Instead, David kept doing the right thing year after year. He was anointed at 17, but he didn’t take the throne until he was 30. It took 13 years for his anointing to catch up to his appointing. But without those 13 years of keeping a good attitude, doing the right thing, overlooking insults, he wouldn’t have been prepared for where God was taking him.
God knows what’s in your future. He knows what it’s going to take to keep you there. You may not understand why it’s taking so long, why it hasn’t turned out the way you thought, why you’re in a lonely season, a discouraged season, a stagnant season. But everything you’ve been through was to strengthen you, to develop you, to prepare you. God wouldn’t have allowed it if it wasn’t part of the process. Without it, you couldn’t give birth to what’s in you. And if you’ll do like David, not try to figure it all out, not live bitter, negative, instead keep passing the test, keep doing the right thing, giving, serving, loving, then your time is coming. Your baby is on the way. What God promised, he will bring to pass.
One day, while David was in those lonely shepherd’s fields, his father asked him to take lunch to his brothers who were out on the battlefield. David could have said, “Dad, you saw Samuel anoint me. You saw him choose me over all my brothers, and you want me to be an errand boy? A delivery service? I don’t think so.” If David would have been too proud, not willing to serve others, do something that seemed insignificant, he would have never made it to the throne. These are tests that we must pass.
It took humility to take his brother’s lunch. His oldest brother, when he showed up, made fun of David, caused a big scene, tried to embarrass him. David overlooked it, kept doing the right thing. On one of those trips, taking his brother’s lunch, David saw Goliath taunting the people of Israel. Something rose up in David. He said, “I’ll take care of that giant.” But had David not been faithful where he was, doing what his father asked him to do, even though it was small, he would have missed his destiny. He would have never seen Goliath.
It’s easy to think, “I’m not going to do this insignificant thing. Joel, when something big comes my way, something impressive, then I’ll step up. Then I’ll give it my best.” How do you know your destiny is not tied to the small thing God is asking you to do? Once you do that insignificant thing, or maybe you have to swallow your pride and serve somebody that’s under you, then the door to the big thing God has in store will open up. It can be uncomfortable to have to humble ourselves. We think, “God, that’s not right. I have more training than them, more education, more skill.” Pass the test. It’s a part of the process. It’s getting you prepared.
When I used to do the television production here at Lakewood, one Sunday, the lady that did my father’s makeup for television put powder on him, helped him with his hair, she didn’t show up. Victoria was there in the back. She said to my father, “Let me do it.” Nobody asked her to. She just stepped up. And she thought she was going to do it just that one Sunday, but the lady ended up moving to another city. My father liked it so much he asked Victoria to do it all the time. Victoria didn’t have any training in that area. Her background was in the jewelry business. Her mother owns a prestigious jewelry store. Victoria grew up selling diamonds, rubies to influential, wealthy people. A sophisticated business. And she could have thought, “I don’t think I’m going to be a makeup person.” She couldn’t have seen that as being insignificant. But when my father asked, she never thought twice. For years, on Sundays, she’d go to my dad’s house, pick him up, bring him to church, help him with his hair, with his makeup. She spent years behind the scenes, helping make my father look good, never dreaming one day she would be up here in front of people, making me look good.
When you’re faithful in the small, you’re passing the test. That’s getting you prepared for the big things God has in store. You may be doing something that seems insignificant. You know you have much more in you, but don’t despise the day of small beginnings. Keep being faithful. Here’s the key. Do it with a good attitude. It’s one thing to do it negative, complaining. “I can’t stand this job. I’m smarter than my boss. My supervisor, he doesn’t have half the talent that I have.” That may be true, but the reason God has you there is he’s doing a work in you. If you complain, you’ll get stuck. It was never supposed to be permanent. It’s just a step along the way.
And all those years David was in the lonely shepherd’s fields, it didn’t look like anything was happening. It didn’t seem like he was making progress. But when you’re pregnant, the baby is developing on the inside where nobody can see. In those tough times where you’re uncomfortable, you’re doing the right thing but the wrong thing is happening, something is developing in you that you can’t see. It’s getting you prepared. You’re getting closer to the birth. If you’ll keep passing the test at the right time, your anointing will meet up with your appointing.
This is the reason many people never give birth to what’s in them. They don’t understand the process. God will put a dream in your heart. He’ll give you the anointing, then he’ll send you back to the shepherd’s fields. The appointing will come later. You know you’re going to start that business. You’ve been anointed for it, but he’ll send you back to that part-time job with a grouchy boss and coworkers that you don’t like. You know you’re going to move into that new house. The promise is in you, but he’ll send you back to that small apartment with loud neighbors and no Wi-Fi. You know you’re going to meet the right person. You’re anointed to have a blessed family, but he’ll send you back to that lonely place where you don’t see any sign of it.
How we respond in the wilderness will determine whether or not we make it in to our promised land. And right now, there are promises that God has put in you. You are pregnant with potential, pregnant with opportunity, with health, with abundance. You’ve been anointed. My question is will you go through the process so you see your appointing come? Will you pass these tests when it’s uncomfortable, when it doesn’t look like it’s going to work out, when you can’t see anything changing? Just because you don’t see anything happening doesn’t mean God is not working. You don’t see it on the outside, but on the inside where it’s more important, you’re growing. You’re developing. It’s just a matter of time before your appointing shows up.
My father gave his life to Christ at the age of 17. He knew one day he was going to pastor a church with thousands of people. That was unheard of back then in the 1930s, but God put this dream in his heart as a teenager. He was anointed for it, but it took years for the appointing to come. My parents started Lakewood in 1959 with 90 people. They were in an abandoned feed store. It was this old run-down building. And for 13 years, Lakewood hardly grew at all. My father was being his best. He knew he had bigger things in him, but in spite of everything he did, even after 10 years, Lakewood still had less than 200 people. He could have thought, “God, I must have heard you wrong. I thought you said I’d have a church with thousands.” Instead, he kept doing his best, being faithful day in and day out. In 1972, 13 years later, it was like God opened up a gate. People started coming from all over the city. They grew out of that little feed store, built an auditorium for a thousand, then 2000, then 4000, then 8000. What happened? His anointing caught up with his appointing.
See, my dad was faithful. He didn’t complain because it was taking a long time. He didn’t get discouraged and give up because it was difficult. Too often, we have the anointing, but we get discouraged by the process. We don’t like when we’re not getting process, not given breaks, not being treated right. But in those tough times, when you’re tempted to give up, you have to remind yourself, like a lady having a baby, it’s all a part of the process. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s not unusual. If God took it away, your baby wouldn’t develop. You wouldn’t be able to give birth.
In those 13 years, my father hardly saw any growth. Those were very important years. Those were years of testing, years of proving. It may have looked like he was wasting his time, but without those years of preparation, even though he was anointed, he would have never seen the appointing. Don’t run away from the process. The process is not working against you. It’s working for you. It’s getting you prepared. Imagine a lady that’s pregnant saying, “No, I don’t want to gain any weight. I don’t want to grow out of these clothes.” It doesn’t work that way. If we’re not willing to go through the process, we won’t see the baby.
There’s something God wants you to give birth to, something big, something special, something out of the ordinary. He has anointed you for it. The appointing is already in your future. I’m asking you to do your part and be willing to go through the process. Don’t let disappointments talk you out of it. Don’t let delays convince you it’s not going to happen. Don’t let the fact that you don’t think you’re making progress, you’re frustrated, keep you from doing the right thing. You’ve come too far to stop now. You’re too close to the birth to give up. It’s always the most uncomfortable right before that baby comes.
And the scripture says, “Jesus endured the pain of the cross, looking forward to the joy that was coming.” The way he endured the pain was he knew it was a part of the process. He knew that it wasn’t permanent. He wasn’t going to stay on the cross. He kept looking forward to the joy that’s coming. What am I saying? Keep your joy in tough times. When life throws you a curve, you don’t understand it, it’s taking longer than you thought, remind yourself it’s only temporary. It’s all a part of the process. Jesus kept looking forward to the joy that was coming.
Don’t look back. Don’t fall into self-pity. Keep looking forward. The joy is coming. The right person is coming. The dream is coming. The breakthrough is on the way. Here’s the key. Once you’re prepared, then God can propel you into your destiny. He can make things happen faster than you thought. My father spent those 13 years in preparation. He didn’t see much growth, but once he passed those tests, once he proved to God what he was made of, he was propelled. God thrust him to the next level.
Don’t get discouraged, thinking that you’re falling behind. “Joel, I’ve been doing the right thing for a long time. I should be much further ahead. My friends, my colleagues, they’ve all passed me up.” Don’t worry. Your time is coming. When your anointing catches up with your appointing, supernatural things will happen. Supernatural increase, supernatural growth, supernatural favor. God knows how to make up for lost time. He can propel you where you could not go on your own.
For 45 years, Lakewood was on the northeast side of town. That’s where that little feed store was. For many of those years, we were in metal buildings. The children’s facilities were in temporary, small wood buildings, and some of the people I grew up with kind of looked down on us, felt we were secondary, not quite up to par, and the city ended up growing more toward the west. The area where Lakewood was wasn’t kept up very well. It’s a little more industrial and had become run-down. But your anointing will supersede your environment. God will put things in you that are bigger than you are right now.
God anointed David to be a king. He wasn’t in a palace. He was in the shepherd’s fields. All he could see were rocks, sand, sheep. Your environment doesn’t determine your destiny. Where you are doesn’t limit what God can do. When it’s your time, when you’ve gone through the preparation process, get ready to be propelled. Get ready for doors to open that you could not open. And that’s what happened with Lakewood. After years of being in metal buildings, temporary buildings, being looked down on, suddenly, one day, God gave us the Compaq Center. This place propelled us 50 years down the road, not just in resources but in respect, in credibility, in influence.
Don’t get discouraged by the preparation time. Don’t quit being your best because you’re not where you thought you would be. Friends have passed you up. They got married. You’re still single. They’re in the new place. You’re still in the old one. Keep doing the right thing. Your appointing is coming. And during that preparation time, you may not see a lot of progress. Like my father in those 13 years, he didn’t see much growth. It was all minimal. But at some point, you’re going to come to the place where God says, “All right, you’re prepared. You’ve passed the test. You’ve done your part. Now let me do my part. Let me propel you into your purpose.” That’s when you’ll see these explosive blessings. You’ll see acceleration. It should have taken years, but God propelled you and it happened in a fraction of the time. I believe many of you right now are on the verge of being propelled. You’ve passed the test. You’ve done the right thing when it was hard. Get ready for new levels. Get ready for acceleration. Get ready for favor that you haven’t seen.
There’s a plant called the Chinese bamboo. For the first four years, it barely grows above ground. You can hardly see anything happening, but underground where you can’t see, it’s developing a massive root system. In the fifth year, once the roots are firmly established, the plant will take off and shoot up to as high as 80 feet in the air, from zero to 80, all in one year. But what makes the fifth year possible is the four years of preparation. Without the years of underground growth, there wouldn’t be any aboveground growth.
Like this plant, you may not see anything happening. You wonder why God isn’t doing something. You’re doing your best, but you’re not seeing breaks. You don’t think you’re making progress, but what you can’t see is, on the inside, your roots are going down deep. And at the right time, when God knows you’re prepared, you’re going to come in to your fifth year where you suddenly shoot up. You suddenly come out of death. Suddenly, your health turns around. Suddenly, you meet the right person.
But here’s the key. You have to be willing to go through the process. We want fifth year results without the four years of preparation. But without those years of developing our character, proving to God we’ll be faithful, doing the right thing when we’re uncomfortable, we won’t see the increase and promotion like we should. Sometimes, we think, “Well, God, I’m ready. I’m prepared. I’ve been doing the right thing.” But only God knows where he’s taking you. You may be ready for what you have in mind, but you’re not ready for what God has in mind. What he has planned for you is going to be much bigger, much more exciting. He not only knows where he’s taking you. He knows what it’s going to take to keep you there. If he took you before you were ready, you wouldn’t be able to handle it. As much as we would like it to happen sooner, it wouldn’t be a blessing. It would become a curse.
I know a lady that gave birth to twins, very premature. They both weighed less than a pound. They were in the hospital for over a year, had to have a bunch of surgeries, and thank God, they turned out okay. But my point is when we give birth prematurely, even though it may be easier, it’s not God’s best. If it’s taking a long time, that simply means what you’re going to give birth to is going to be much bigger than you’ve ever imagined.
I read where an elephant is pregnant for two years. Because the animal is so big, it takes more time for that baby elephant to grow and develop. Elephants typically only give birth to one baby per pregnancy. On the other hand, a dog is pregnant for just 63 days. After two months, the dog can give birth to multiple puppies. There was a story recently on the news where this Great Dane gave birth to 17 puppies, all in one litter. Well, imagine the dog and the elephant having a conversation. The dog says, “I don’t think you’re pregnant. I gave birth after two months. Something is wrong with you.” The dog gets pregnant again and again, gives birth every several months. Nearly two years later, comes back and says to the elephant, “I’m positive you’re not pregnant. I’m for sure now. I’ve given birth multiple times.” The elephant says, “No. Here’s the difference. The reason you’ve given birth many times and I’m still pregnant is because what’s in me is not a puppy. It’s an elephant. What I’m carrying is not ordinary. You don’t see it often. I’m carrying something big, something special. That’s why it’s taking longer.”
People around you may be giving birth. They’re seeing their dreams come to pass. Be happy for them. But the reason it’s taking longer for you is because, like that elephant, what you’re carrying is not ordinary. It’s not average. What you’re going to give birth to is going to be bigger, more rewarding, more fulfilling than you’ve ever dreamed. Don’t get discouraged by the process. It may be taking a long time. That’s a sign God is up to something big, something amazing. Keep passing the test. Keep doing the right thing when it’s hard. Don’t run when it’s uncomfortable. That’s getting you prepared. That’s a part of the process. If you’ll do this, I believe and declare your anointing is about to catch up to your appointing. You’re going to go into your fifth year where God supernaturally thrusts you forward. Because you’re prepared, he’s going to propel you into the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus’ name. If you receive it, can you say “Amen” today?
I’d like to give you an opportunity to make Jesus the Lord of your life. Would you pray with me? Just say, “Lord Jesus, I repented my sins. Come into my heart. I’ll make you my lord and savior.” If you prayed that simple prayer, we believe you got born again. Get in a good Bible-based church. Keep God first place. Victoria and I will be right back to speak a blessing over you.