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Strategic Steps

Id like to start with something funny. I heard about this elderly minister. He was dying. He sent for
two of his members, an IRS agent and a lawyer to come to his house. When they arrived, he
motioned for both of them to sit on each side of the bed. They were very moved to be with the
minister in his final moments. At one point, the lawyer said very sincerely sir why did you choose
both of us? The minister mustered up his strength and said, Jesus died between 2 sinners. Thats
how I want to go.
Hold up your Bible. 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 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 strategically ordered steps. God is not a random God; Hes not
vague, approximate, maybe Ill do this, maybe Ill do that. God is precise. Exact. Hes already laid
out the plan for your life, down to the smallest details. And just as God will strategically bring
good breaks, emotion, the right people, God will also use adversities, disappointments, closed
doors, to move us toward our destiny. At the time, we may not understand. We think, this couldnt
be God, I lost my biggest client, Im in a legal battle, my friends turned on me. No, God wouldnt
have allowed it unless He had a purpose for you. God wouldnt just randomly say, give them
some heartache, a bad break, let this person reject them. No, God is strategic. He may not have
sent it but if He allowed it, He can use it to your advantage.
God sees the big picture for our life. He knows what were going to need in a month, in a year,
and in 20 years. In the Scripture, Sampson wanted to marry a young lady from another tribe. His
parents didnt want him to do it. God had instructed them to not get involved, to stay with their
own clan. But the Scriptures says, his parents didnt realize the Lord was at work in this, creating
an opportunity to disrupt the Philistines who ruled Israel at the time. This was a situation doesnt
necessarily fit into our theology. God told them not to marry foreigners yet God was the one who
led Sampson to do it. God knew years down the road He needed an insider in the Philistines
camp to carry out his plan.
Were not always going to understand why something happens. True faith is trusting God when it
doesnt make sense, believing that Hes strategic, that He knows what Hes doing. It may be
uncomfortable, we dont understand it, but deep down we have to know that if God allowed it then
somehow its going to further us ultimately toward our divine destiny.
Proverbs 20 put it this way. Since the Lord is directing our steps, dont try to figure out everything
that is happening along the way. Why did my business go away, why did my child get into trouble,
why did my relationship not work out? You may never know why but you can come back to this
core truth that God knows what Hes doing. Hes praying that your life is good and even in
opposition, like with Sampson, God is creating opportunity.

Somewhere down the road its not going to work against you its going to work for you. And if you
dont understand this principle, youll get frustrated because there are times in Gods divine plan
where it will look like youre going the wrong direction, your back is facing the goal, you know
youre supposed to be going this way but youre heading just the opposite. This is what faith is all
about. Will you trust Him when it seems like youre going the wrong way? Will you keep a good
attitude when youre praying for increase but seeing decrease? Will you stay in faith when you
were the most qualified but you got passed over?
Friends, God knows what Hes doing. He would have never allowed that if it was going to keep
you from your destiny. Hes too strategic to just randomly put that into the plan for your life. It may
not seem good but if youll keep moving forward one day youll see what God was up to.
Ive seen in my own life God doesnt always take us the most logical way. We can go from A to B
to C; that makes sense; thats logical. But Gods ways are not our ways. He may take it from A to
B all the way up to R and then back to C then to N then to F. If you could see the plan God has
for you on a map, it would not be in a straight line. Imagine a bunch of stepping stones. They
would start off straight towards your goal and then theres a turn and then another turn; now
youre headed back to where you started, wrong direction, doesnt make sense.
Then theres a U-turn, goes back, a little higher, then it dips down, on and on. At some point, you
could be on a stepping stone God ordained for you. He strategically placed it before the
foundation of time. But the stone youre on is facing the opposite direction of your goal. Its easy
to think Joel this is not Gods plan; Im going the wrong way, why do these things keep happening
to me? Stay in faith. Gods plan is not straight; there are curves, detours, U-turns, shortcuts. God
knows what Hes doing. Hes strategically directing your steps. It may be uncomfortable but Gods
the one that put the stepping stone there.
Its all a part of His plan. We all want to go to a higher level; we all want to see more of Gods
favor. But sometimes you have to come off of the mountain and go down into the valley, not to
stay, not to live, but so that you can go up to a higher level. God has something better, something
bigger; you havent seen, heard or imagined what God has in store. But too often we think, God
Im going backwards. You said higher and Im going lower. You said rain and Im seeing drought.
No dont get discouraged. God is simply bringing you down that one mountain so you can go up
that other mountain. He is strategically positioning you to see more of His goodness. And if you
will stay in faith, one day you will look back and say it was good that I got pushed out of that job
or I would have been stuck in a limited environment.
It was good that person left me or I would have never met the love of my life. It was good I went
through the difficulties that not only made me stronger, not only developed a greater confidence
in God, but in the opposition God was creating opportunity; He was putting me in position for
something bigger, something better, something greater.
We see this principle in the life of Joseph; God knew there was going to be a famine in the land.
The Israelites couldnt survive without food from the Egyptians. So years earlier, God put a dream
in the heart of a young man named Joseph that he would rule a nation. As a teenager, he had

the promise from God. His goal was in front of him; he started out great. He was his fathers
favorite child, wearing his coat of many colors, headed toward his destiny.
His brothers were very jealous of him. They threw him into a pit and eventually sold him in
slavery. Im sure Joseph thought, God where are you? You said I would lead a nation but now Im
a slave. This doesnt make sense. The truth is, he was in Gods perfect world, he was just on one
of those stones facing the opposite direction. Heres the key: Those stones are temporary. Thats
not where youre permanently headed. Dont stay focused on where you are. If you isolate one
stone, one bad break, one disappointment, one dry season, youll get bitter, sour; that stone is
simply one step in the plan God has for your life. It is not the final piece. God says His plans for
you are for good and not evil. The end of your path is victory, dreams fulfilled, promises coming to
pass. Now, dont judge your future by one negative stepping stone.
Joseph kept being his best, kept honoring God even though things werent going his way. He
ended up second in command of all of Egypt; the dream came to pass. Heres how strategic God
is: there was a great famine in the land. Jacob, Josephs father, thought that Joseph was dead;
he hadnt seen him in many years. Jacob told his other sons to go to Egypt and see if there is any
way they could possibly buy food. They were about to starve to death. God used the famine to
send them to Egypt.
They would have never gone that way if not for adversity. In the same way, God will use dry
seasons, disappointments, and closed doors, to reposition us, to get us to where He wants us to
be. God knows whats best for us. The brothers showed up at the palace and there was Joseph,
in charge of the food supply, running a whole nation. Some 20 years earlier, God strategically
orchestrated Joseph to be inside a foreign country, not only so that his dream could come to pass
but so that Gods people could flourish in a time of famine. Thats how precise God is. Hes
looking years down the road.
We can see a little way but God knows what youre going to need 30 years from now. The good
news is God is lining up people today that years later will be instrumental in you fulfilling your
destiny. Nothing randomly happens. If Josephs brothers hadnt rejected him, he would have
never made it to the throne. Now quit losing sleep over people that dont accept you, people that
try to make you look small, disrespect you, dismiss you. Listen, if they werent in your life, you
couldnt make it to your throne. God ordained them not to hold you back but to move you forward.
They may think theyre pushing you down but really theyre pushing you up.
You may be on one of those stepping stones, facing the wrong direction. It may set you back for a
season but dont worry, a U-turn is coming. At some point, youre going to step past the stone of
being rejected and lied about. Youll step past the stone of a bad break, a disappointment, a
closed door. And, like Joseph, you will step into promotion, into abundance. Into new levels. Into
the fullness of your destiny. Now, my challenge, dont get stuck on one of those negative stepping
stones. People say well Joel if Gods so good why do I have the bad break in the first place?
Whyd my child get off course, why am I still struggling at work?
Listen, that adversity, that difficulty, is simply a test.

God strategically placed you there. He would have never allowed it if you couldnt handle it. It
may be a big challenge but it is no match for you. You are a child of the Most High God. You have
been armed with strength for every battle. You have the most powerful force in the universe
breathing in your direction. Now dont complain about the difficulty. Dig your heels in, have the
attitude, I am in it to win it. I am not going to let what somebody said about me, this rejection, this
breakup, this closed door, this disappointment, this sickness, cause me to get sour. I know its a
part of Gods plan. He strategically placed me here. When its all said and done, its not going to
work against me, its going to work for me. You have that kind of attitude, youd better get ready.
Like Joseph, youre not going to stay in the pit, in defeat, in depression, in lack; youre headed to
the throne, youre headed to victory, youre headed to the fullness of your destiny. Listen, people
cant stop it, bad breaks cant stop it, disappointments cant stop it, all the forces of darkness
cannot stop what God has strategically ordained for your life.
Think about some of the stepping stones in Josephs life. He had the promise, the dream that he
would rule the nation; a stone in the right direction. Then he was thrown into a pit, a stone the
opposite way, still a part of Gods plan. Potiphars wife lied about him and put him in prison; 2
stones going the wrong direction. In prison, a friend, another inmate, got out, forgot all about
Joseph; another stone the wrong way. Joseph could have thought, this is a pattern, this is my
destiny, these stones are going the wrong way. 13 years, disappointments. Betrayals, injustice.
Surely he missed Gods plan.
No, God is directing our steps, not just when things are going our way, not just when the doors
open, were promoted, people are good to us, but even when the doors close, people arent good
to us, the report wasnt good. Those stones going in the wrong direction are still in the hand of
God. My question is will you trust Him even when you dont understand it? Will you keep a good
attitude knowing that its going to turn to your advantage? Just like Joseph, you will come into
your U-turn.
The same God that orchestrated him being betrayed, lied about, thrown into a pit orchestrated
him being promoted, vindicated, taking the throne, fulfilling his dream.
Listen, dont be discouraged by what youre going through. Your time is coming. Where you are is
not where youre staying. You may be in the valley, God allowed you to go there, not so you could
stay but so you could come up to a higher mountain. God has new levels in store for you.
In Genesis 15, God told the Israelites that He was taking them into a foreign land; they would be
mistreated, suffer hardships. He was saying there will be negative stepping stones going in the
wrong direction. You will be tempted to think it will never work out.
But God gave them the promise. Youll go through difficulties but afterwards you will come out
with go out with great abundance. Friends, there will always be an afterwards. Every person goes
through unfair situations, uncomfortable situations; we dont like it but its a part of Gods plan. If
youll keep passing the test, doing the right thing when the wrong thing is happening, afterwards
you will come out promoted, increased, stronger, healthier, happier, blessed with great
abundance. Now, dont get discouraged by the problem. Its all a part of the process that God
uses to bring about the promise. God is not just going to bring you out, Hes going to bring you

out better. Hes directing your steps, Hes still in control of your life, and nothing thats happened
to you is a surprise to God. He allowed that difficulty not to defeat you but to promote you. God is
saying to us what He said to the Israelites. If you will keep moving forward, after hardship, after
the breakup, after the disappointment, there will be great joy, great opportunities, great health,
great relationships, and great abundance coming your way.
A few years after Victoria and I were married, we received an unexpected tax bill in the mail. The
person we hired to do our tax return lived in another state; he was unfamiliar with a certain tax
law in Texas. Now we owed thousands of dollars. We were a young couple, saving up for a down
payment for a home; this was going to take all of our funds.
To make matters worse, more than half of what we owed was because of penalties. I thought
God this is not fair, I hired a professional, he made a mess and now Im having to pay for his
mistakes. This all happened around Christmas that year. We did our best to have a joyful spirit
but in the back of our minds we would always feel the weight of this problem. We ended up
finding a man to help us get it straightened out. He was a tax attorney.
For a couple of weeks, he was at our house every night, going over documents, filling out new
forms. We would eat together, run errands together, we ended up becoming good friends. 10
years later, I was working here at the Church at Lakewood in the television ministry, my parents
were the pastor, after one service a man came up and said, Joel my cousin has a construction
permit for the last full-power commercial television station in Houston; he would like you to be a
part of it.
Well, a TV station in a major market is extremely valuable. Now I was young, I didnt know
anything about negotiating a contract for a television station. Then I thought, Ill call my attorney
friend, the one I met during my tax issue. 3 months later, we had a contract. We put the station on
the air. My father went to be with the Lord and I became the pastor. 4 years later, we acquired this
place, the former Compaq Center. It was going to cost about a hundred million dollars to
renovate. We decided to sell the station. We sold it for a huge profit. Those funds were
instrumental in us being able to renovate this facility. But it all started with that tax issue. What I
thought was a setback was really a setup for God to do something greater. For a season, I was
going the opposite direction.
But if I had not had that problem, I would never have met the tax attorney. Without my attorney
friend, I would never have pursued the television station. Without the station, we may not have
had the funds to move into this facility. That difficulty was strategically orchestrated by God. At the
time, I didnt understand it. I thought, God this is ruining our Christmas. This is not right. I could
hear God whispering, Joel trust me, I know what Im doing, it may be uncomfortable, you may not
like it, but its ultimately going to work to your advantage.
The longer I live, the more I realize everything is working for our good. We dont like the
disappointments, we dont like when a friend betrays us, we dont like a closed door, but if it didnt
happen you wouldnt make it into the fullness of your destiny.

I know a gentleman, hes in his late 70s and he was in his bedroom, on a ladder, taking a heavy
mirror off the wall. He got the mirror off but when he did, he lost his balance and began to fall
backward. He threw the mirror. When he fell, he hit the dresser and he broke a bunch of his ribs.
Took him to the hospital and the doctor just happened to notice the main artery in his neck was
98% blocked. Any moment he could have a major stroke and probably not survive. The
cardiologist told him, youre a walking time bomb. Weve got to do a procedure right now. They
did the procedure and everything went well. My point is, had he not had that fall, without that
difficulty, he wouldnt have known that he was in grave danger.
See, every setback is not the enemy. We dont like disappointments, the uncomfortable times, but
when you realize God is strategically directing your steps nothing can happen without Gods
permission then you will not be frustrated. Friends, the enemy is not in control of your life; God is
in control of your life. And yes there are forces of darkness that come against us but like with Job,
Satan had to ask permission to even test Job.
If that disappointment, that bad break, was going to serve no purpose, God would have never
allowed it. Quit fighting everything that doesnt go your way. God has you in the palm of His hand.
Nothing can snatch you away. You may not like what you have gone through but every difficulty
has deposited something on the inside. You wouldnt be who you are today or where you are
today without the difficult times. In that opposition, God was creating opportunity. He was
developing you, repositioning you, getting you prepared for greater abundance.
A while back, Victoria lost a ring that her mother had given her. It was a diamond band that had
been in the family for several generations. Sometimes when we would travel Victoria would hide
the ring in different places in the house. So, for months and months, we searched everywhere;
we looked in every drawer, every cabinet, and every pocket. I took out every seat cushion; I
looked in the seat, in the couch, under the couch, under the bed; that ring was nowhere to be
found. At one point, Victorias mom noticed that she hadnt been wearing the ring and asked
about it. Victoria said, oh mom Ive got it put away in a real safe place. Oh yeah so safe we cant
even find it.
About 3 years later, we were driving home late one night from Victoria, Texas. It was after
midnight; I was very tired and ready to get home. Victoria kept saying Joel youd better slow
down, youre going to get a ticket. I said, I am not going to get a ticket. I was just barely going
over 70, the speed limit was 65, I was out in the middle of the country in the middle of the night.
There wasnt a car on the road. All of sudden, I looked in the rearview mirror and there was these
red lights flashing. I looked at Victoria and said, you made me get this ticket.
She called it into existence. The officer came up and I handed him my Drivers License. He said, I
need to see your proof of insurance. Victoria opened the glove compartment and started looking.
We could find every document except our current insurance. She finally pulled everything out of
the compartment, started digging in back of there, got the office standing right there, very nerve
racking. The middle of the night, we couldnt see anything. She was maneuvering her hand back
and forth. At one point, she felt something sharp way down in the back. She thought, what is

And she struggled and struggled, and finally got it out. It was the ring she had been looking for,
for 3 years. Now, I still dont understand why God used my pain to find her ring. That doesnt
make sense. Victoria was so excited, she forgot about the insurance card. She was over there
rejoicing and here I was about to go to jail. She ended up finding the current insurance card that
we needed, on the very top of the stack. It was one of the first things that she looked at. It was
almost like God caused her to overlook it.
I handed it to the officer, he said, are you that minister? I said, I am. He said, if I come to
Houston, will you save me a seat in your Church? I said, Ill save you a whole section. He handed
it back and said goodnight, be careful, you can go. Sometimes, what we think is a setback is
really a setup for God to do something great. God knew we would never dig way back in that
glove box unless there was a police officer standing there in the middle of the night.
God works in mysterious ways. Everything about your life has been strategically ordained. You
may not understand it, it may not make sense. Thats what faith is all about. Some of you are
living frustrated, upset, because of what somebody said, didnt work out. Come back to that place
of peace. Its not going to work against you. Its going to work for you. Like God promised the
Israelites, I believe and declare youre coming in to an afterwards. After the storm, after the
difficulty, there will be great joy. Great health, great relationships, great opportunities, great
abundance coming your way. In Jesus name. Amen if you receive it.