Joyce Meyer - Leaving the Crowd Behind - Part 1
Well, how many of you are ready for the word this morning? You know, I never just go anywhere and just pull out some message and preach it. I'm purposeful about what I bring you. And I pray that I'll always have the right word in due season. And I'm praying that as I share the word this morning, because there is so much power in God's word, it's the anointing that destroys the yoke of bondage off of our lives. And literally, as you sit and receive the word this morning, bondages can be broken off of you. But I need you to join your faith with mine, for that to happen. And so, I'm believing, I want you to believe with me, if anybody here has not received Jesus, that they will.
We'll pray with you at the end of the service. If you're not filled with the Holy Spirit, that you will be. That you'll receive a fresh touch. If you're just kind of weary, and worn out, and tired of whatever, that God will just touch you today as I share the word. And I pray for healing: physical, mental, and emotional. None of us have time to waste, and there's lots of things that you could be doing this morning. A lot of things I could be doing. But we're here together, and God's here, and something wonderful is gonna happen. Amen?
The title of my message this morning is, "Leaving the Crowd Behind". And we've all got a crowd. You know, it may be your crowd in your neighborhood, or your crowd at work, or your crowd at school, or maybe some of your extended family that's your crowd. But we've all got our own little crowd. And many times when God touches your life, and wants to take you somewhere, the crowd doesn't wanna go. And so, sometimes you either have to make the decision to not go with God, or to leave the crowd behind. Gonna start in Mark 4 verse 35, and it says, "That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, 'let us go over to the other side'". And in chapter 5 verse 1, it says, "And they arrived on the other side". But what happened between 4:35 and 5:1? They had a huge hurricane proportion storm.
How many of you are going through something right now? How many of you are in the middle of something, right now? Well, I wanna tell you something, between chapter 4 verse 35, and chapter 5 verse 1, is what I call the middle. And, you know, gettin' started is not hard. That comes with excitement. It comes with enthusiasm. It's something new. We've got a dream. We've got a vision. We've got an idea. "We're gonna start our own business". "We're gonna pay our house off". "We're gonna get out of debt". "We're gonna lose weight". "We're gonna exercise". "We're gonna go into ministry".
How many of you know it's not hard to get a bright idea, about what you're gonna do? But I wanna tell you honestly and sincerely, there really are so few comparatively, that make it to the other side, that finish what they started. And it's because they don't know how to make it through the middle. Because many times when you're going through the middle, you're like the disciples were. Jesus seems to be asleep in the boat, and you feel like you're all alone, and it's tough, and you just don't have all that support and encouragement, that you feel like you need. But I wanna read you my definition of the highest level of spiritual maturity. And by the way, that's what God wants for each and every one of us, to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Not just to be saved. Not just to go to heaven someday.
If that's all God had for us, the moment that we're born again, he would just beam us up. He leaves us here for a reason. And that's because the Bible says that we are God's personal representatives, his ambassadors. And get this, the Amplified Bible says that God is making his appeal to the world through us. That's amazing. Do you know that if Christians would behave the way they ought to, not just go to church, but I mean get out of the church. I don't mean to leave the church, but get what you need and let it help you grow, and then get out there, and live the life. You don't even necessarily have to go preach to a bunch of people, if you just live the life. And if we were all doing that, and had been doing that, first of all, we wouldn't have the problems we have today. And secondly, I think maybe Jesus would've already come, because the world would be saved. Transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.
And, you know, everybody that's called to preach, I think, has a certain thing that God wants them to bring. You know, for some people they are bent more toward evangelism. I love to see people get saved, but I wouldn't call myself an evangelist. Some people are just encouragers, they just can't talk without encouraging people. And I love to encourage people, but I would not call myself a natural born encourager. But the thing that I have always had on my heart is, spiritual maturity for the believers. That's my job from God, is to help you grow so you can enjoy the things that Jesus died for you to have. Come on. In the beginning of my walk with God, I got so tired of hearing about all these promises.
And I saw them in the word, but they really weren't a reality in my life. And nobody was telling me how to make them a reality. I can stand here and be a spiritual cheerleader, but I can't just feed you dessert, I have to tell you things that you may not wanna hear. I have to tell you things that might make you squirm in your seat a little bit. Because growing up spiritually, is similar to growing up physically. It's just not always easy. And there are some words in the Bible, that we just don't like to talk about. And one of them is suffering. Thank you, for your great response. Do you know... Well, forget it.
Here's my definition of the highest level of spiritual maturity. This is where I'm tryin' to take you. Suffering while waiting patiently, with a good attitude, while trusting God and continuing to be a blessing to other people. I'm gonna tell it to you again. This is where God wants us to get to, me, you, every one of us. God doesn't like us suffering, but what he does like is for us to behave right while we're suffering. See, he wants us to still have a good attitude, to wait patiently, to continue trusting him, and very importantly to keep reaching out and helping other people. That's the seed that you sow for your own breakthrough, is to reach out and help somebody else. When you can't help yourself, it's amazing how you can help somebody else. Suffering while waiting patiently, and patience is not just the ability to wait, it's how you act while you wait. Suffering while waiting patiently with a good attitude, while you're trusting God, and continuing to be a blessing to other people.
Now, we'll just read this real quick. "That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, 'let us go over to the other side'". Yeah! "Leaving the crowd behind". I've never heard a message entitled that. I'm sure there's been one, but we're gonna pretend like I'm the first one to ever preach this. "Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. And there were also other boats with him. And a furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped". This was no little wind blowing and a little bit of rain, this was like big. "And Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion". Don't you love that? "God, where are you at? Why aren't you doing anything in my life"? "And the disciples woke him up and said, 'teacher, don't you care if we drown'"? "God, don't you love me? Where are you? Why aren't you helping me? Why aren't you making this go away"?
Well, I'm gonna say something you're probably not gonna like. But I'm not called to say what you like, I'm called to say what's gonna help you. Sometimes being delivered when you wanna be delivered, would not be the best thing for you. And even if you don't wanna like this today, ultimately, it'll do you so much good, you'll say, "Boy, I hope she comes back". Let me say it again. Being delivered from everything, is not always the best thing for us, because we don't grow when things are good. We grow when God is all we've got and we're hanging on, and wondering why in the world he's not moving to help us. "God, where are you? Why, God, why? When, God, when? I do not understand what is going on in my life. This doesn't make any sense".
I will tell you the truth, if you don't like a mystery, you might as well not bother trying to hang out with Jesus. Because there is just a whole lot of things that he does in our lives, that just does not make any sense at all to us. And we like to give God advice, don't we? During those periods of time. We know exactly what he could do to help us. "He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, 'quiet! Be still'! Then the wind died down and it was calm. And Jesus said to his disciples, 'why are you afraid? Don't you have any faith'? They were terrified and asked each other, 'who is this? That even the wind and the waves obey him'! And they got to the other side". I'm glad they made it through the middle.
You know, I heard somebody say this one time, and I really like this, I hope you get it, that every time the bus stops, somebody gets off. A few of you understand that. I'll get practical with you, and you'll understand. Have you ever noticed in your life, or your business, or your ministry, or whatever, you grow for a while, or you're making progress for a while, and then you come to like a standstill? And then, nothing's happening again for a while. And then, eventually, you do go on. Our ministry grew in levels. For five years I just taught two home Bible studies. For five years, I taught 25 to 30 people every Tuesday night in my home. Didn't get paid for it. Didn't make any money for it. Studied just as hard as I do now to go out and preach thousands.
And then, eventually, I taught a second Bible study on Thursday mornings at another person's house. Five years, not five days, not five minutes, five years. Five years is a long time. But when God said to me, "Let's go over to the other side," I saw what I'm doing now. But for five years, I taught a home Bible study. Then, God told me to lay that down. "Behold, I do a new thing". Well, Lord have mercy, I thought I'd put in my time, and now we were gonna go to the world. Well, then, I went to work at a church, and I worked there for five years under somebody else's authority. And I did not always, or even usually like their decisions. I'll just throw this out for free, you are not fit to be in authority, until you know how to come under authority. We all wanna be the boss, but we have to learn how to be submissive. And that's another subject people do not like. Watchman Nee said that, "The number one thing we should do, the minute we walk into a room, is search to see who's in authority, and decide to come under that authority".
See, I'm here preaching today, but I'm not really the one in authority. Lisa's the family member who happens to be here today. So, whatever she told me to do or not to do, I should immediately do that. Because this is her place, her thing, she's in authority. And if you won't come under authority, then God will never promote you to be in authority. Amen? So, for five years I worked for somebody else, and I crabbed, and complained, and moaned, and groaed, talked about 'em behind their back. Come on, let's get real. And God started gettin' it through to me, that I couldn't do that. I couldn't talk to other employees bad about the boss. So, I got that part, I did that. But I would still talk about him at home. Come on, you know, we obey a little bit at a time, it takes us a long time to get it.
And then, here's what God said to me, and this will be important for you to hear. He said, "It's not who you're talking to that matters, it's the words that are doing the damage". So, at the end of that five years, so now, I've put ten years in. Still haven't made it to the other side. Still out in the middle in the storms. And then, long story short, but God made it plain that I was to leave my job at the church. "Take your ministry, go North, South, East and West". Well, that sounds exciting, but nobody knew me North, South, East, or West. And so, I did the only thing I knew how to do. I live in St. Louis, and so, I went to North St. Louis, East St. Louis, West St. Louis, and South St. Louis. And I'm telling you the truth, once a month, we had a meeting in each part of town. And man, if I ever had a 100 people in a meeting, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.
But you know what? When I left my job at the church, I had to leave the crowd behind. When I received Christ, well, I'd already been born again, but when God touched my life back in 1976, and called me to teach the word. Let me tell you what, the crowd left me, I didn't have to leave them. And I'm telling the absolute truth, out of everybody that I knew, I can only think of two people who stuck with me. And everybody else just said, "You can't do that, you're a woman, it's not right". I got asked to leave my church. They told me to either shut up or leave. And shutting up was not an option for me at the time. And I may not have been right about the way I handled myself all the time, but my heart was right.
I was so in love with God, I couldn't hardly stand it. And I just, I wanted, oh, my gosh, I wanted to teach the word, and see, when you have a dream from God, you have to understand that you have that dream, but everybody else doesn't. They don't have your dream. So, they don't always understand why you're excited. And my friends told me I'd become a religious fanatic, because I no longer wanted to do the same things that I used to wanna do. I didn't wanna spend my whole evening at a Jewelry party with a bunch of women. I wanted to cast out devils and, you know, believe God. So, the point I'm really wanting to make here is that, if you're going to do all that God wants you to do, and be all that he wants you to be, sometimes you're gonna have to be lonely. Because not all your friends wanna go where God wants to take you.
And I can tell you, right now, and I know this, some of you the biggest thing that's holding you back, is the crowd you hang out with. I'm gonna say that again. Some of you, the biggest thing that's holding you back is the crowd you hang out with. It could even be the people you sit and eat lunch with at work. And you listen to 'em tell dirty jokes, and you listen to 'em grumble about their job, and grumble about the boss. And that's not where you need to be. Sometimes you gotta get away from the crowd. In Psalm 1, verse 1, there's such a valuable scripture. "Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked". The Amplified Bible says, "Blessed is the one who does not take counsel from the ungodly".
Don't go asking people what you ought to do, that don't even know what they're doing. I mean, if you're gonna get advice, get it from somebody that at least is living like they've got some sense. Amen? "Or stand in the way that sinners take", and this is important, "Or sit in the company of mockers". C'mon, don't hang around with people that are gossiping about other people, and judging other people, and being critical of other people. You don't need to hear that. You don't need to be takin' that in. You get your spirit full of that, and it poisons you.
So, sometimes you gotta just get away from people like that. And I'll tell you the truth, when I left my job at the church, God was giving me a promotion, but I didn't feel promoted. Because actually, I did most of the preaching when the pastor was gone. And it was about a 3.000 member church, and then I went to doing meetings of 30 and 40 and 50 and 60 people. And I didn't feel much like I'd been promoted. And I was lonely, running up and down the road, and going to all these little, tiny places. And it was hard, I was lonely. And God didn't deliver me in five minutes, or ten minutes, or one week, or six months. It was years! Come on, are you gonna be faithful until God gets to do in you, what he wants to do in you, so he can do through you, what you want him to do through you? I'm gonna say that again. Are you gonna be faithful? Are you gonna go through the difficult part? Are you gonna do what God is telling you to do, if you are the only human being you know, that's willing to go that far with God?