Joyce Meyer - The Power of Restraint - Part 1
I wanna talk to you tonight about the power of restraint, which is actually self-control. But I thought I'd put a nice new name on it, just to make it a little more inviting.
Father, I thank you for the word tonight, and I pray that people will hear what you want 'em to hear. I know I've got more to say than I have time, so bring out of me what you want to bring out. And help people, give them a spirit of understanding tonight, to really understand the importance of this message and to hear what each one needs to hear, in Jesus' name, amen.
Ok, the foundation scripture that I wanna use is James 4:7, which says, "Submit yourself to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee". Now, a lot of people quote only the back half of that scripture. I did it myself for a lot of years. Resist the devil, and he will flee. But he won't, if you don't submit yourself to God. So, we get mad at the devil because of all the things that he does to aggravate us. And we talk about spiritual warfare, and we should resist the enemy. The Bible actually says in 1 Peter, "Resist the devil [at his onset]". The minute that you sense the enemy coming against you, you don't wait to see what he's gonna do, you resist him right away. But obedience to God, total, complete obedience to God, is still in the Bible.
And it's still a very important subject. Not one that people get real excited about, but one that they have to hear. It's sad, a little amusing, but more sad, we have podcasts on little... not podcasts, Instagram posts. I forget what all that stuff's called. And they're little one minute things out of my sermons. And the media people put names on 'em. Sometimes I think, "Well, I don't know why you named it that". But anyway, they put names on 'em. And I can tell by how many people watch what, where they're at spiritually. I can tell by what kind of books people buy, where they're at spiritually. And I can tell by what kind of, well, we don't sell too many CDs anymore, you get digital downloads. But you can tell like, it is very hard, almost impossible to sell teaching on pride and humility. It's really hard to sell anything on patience.
I really intend to write a book called, "Dying to Self," and we're just gonna see how that goes. How many of you double dare me to write that book? It's one of the most important subjects we need to hear about. But sometimes people, not everybody, but sometimes people don't wanna hear what they need, they wanna hear what makes them feel good. And so, I was looking through some of the Instagrams today, and there was one on there called, "Patience and perseverance," and 88.000 people watched that. And then we had one called, "Sit back and do nothing," and 188.000 people watched that one.
Now, what does that tell you? It's like... Donna asked me, "What's the biggest thing on your heart"? Well, one of the biggest things on my heart is, we have got to start walking in love. Because Jesus said, that's the only way people are gonna know that we're his disciples, if we walk in love. And walking in love involves a lot of things. It involves patience, and kindness, and generosity, and it involves forgiveness. I've been doing this a long time, and I can tell you that about 80% of people in church are mad at somebody. And the Bible tells us plainly that our prayers won't be answered if we don't forgive people. So, if you've got unforgiveness in your heart, you might as well just not even pray. Don't even waste your time, until that gets settled. "But it's hard". "But it's just so hard".
Well, I've got a book coming out this fall called, "Loving People That Are Hard to Love". That one will probably sell. But I guess the other thing that has always been really important to me is to see all of us, myself included, keep growing up and maturing in Christ. And not just go to church, and have a bumper sticker, and have some Christian Jewelry, and carry our Bibles. But to really be real Christians. And to really love God with our whole heart. And to be obedient to him no matter what it costs us, and no matter how hard it is. Can anybody say, "Amen"?
Now, the other scripture that I want us to think about tonight, 'cause I'm gonna share some things about this. You know, the Bible talks about the Kingdom of God. And we're part of that kingdom. And it's the Kingdom of God is in you, it's in you. But it's also all of us. And there are spiritual laws that govern that kingdom. One of those spiritual laws is, you can't have unforgiveness in your heart, and function right in the Kingdom of God. But another one is, and I want you to listen, 'cause this is gonna have a lot to do with what I'm gonna share tonight. That you must believe before you receive. Now, we're gonna be in a teaching mode tonight. I want you to go a little bit deeper with me. You must believe before you receive. Well, that's a little challenging because if you believe before you receive, it's a total act of faith. Because you can't see anything yet. You can't feel anything yet. The only thing you have is God's promise in his word. 7000 promises in here. So, guess what? We can keep reading. We don't know it all yet.
Mark 11:24, 25 says, first it talks about if you have faith, you can say that this mountain go fall in the sea, and it has to. And then it says, "Whatever you ask for, believe you have received". It doesn't say, "Believe you will receive". It says, "Believe you have received, and you will get it". First you believe, then you receive. Now, sadly, it doesn't tell us how long of a period of time there is between this believing and receiving. That's where the test of faith comes in. That's where we have to be faithful, and keep doing what we know is right, and keep believing that what you've asked God for is on its way, and that it will come at the right time in the right way.
So this, believe that you have received before you get it, applies to every aspect of our lives. Like, how many of you have something in your life that, in you, you personally, that really needs to change, that you struggle with, and you just can't seem to get beyond it? Ok, rest of you tired or what? I don't know. Now, I'm about to tell you how to get free. And it's very simple. It may sound crazy, but it's Bible and it works. Ok, let's just say that you're impatient. So, we say all the time, "I'm just so impatient. I wish I wasn't so impatient. God help me be patient". But, we don't really need to pray for patience, because patience is already in us. We pray for a lot of stuff we've already got. Like peace, "Oh, God, give me peace".
Well, Jesus already said, "My peace I leave with you". We have peace. So, what we need to say is, "God, let me use the peace that's in me. Help me use the patience that's in me". Because the only way that the patience, the love, the joy, the peace, the self-control, all the Fruit of the Spirit will develop in your life, is through using it. It's like a muscle. I started working out about now, I guess, 15 years ago. And I had muscle, I guess, but you couldn't see it. And after I'd been working out about three or four months, I was sittin', we were going for a boat ride one day. And I was sittin' on the bow of the boat, with my legs propped up, and I scratched the back of my leg and I felt a lump. And I thought, "What's that? I have, I have a growth on my leg". And then I felt the other leg and there was one there, too. And then I thought, "It's muscle, I've actually got muscle"!
So, see, it was in there, but it didn't come popping out until I used it. So, part of the reason why we have these trials and difficulties in our life, and now, God doesn't bring our trouble, but he certainly will use them to our benefit, when the enemy brings them. So, part of the reason why God doesn't move all the bad stuff out of the way right away when we want him to, is because it gives us practice. You're looking at me so funny. It gives us practice in patience, in faith, and believing God, and not giving up, and perseverance, and self-control, and continuing to walk in love when stuff in our life is a mess. And we have to have that.
So, really the best thing for you to do when you're having trouble and you're hurting is say, "I'm growing. Go ahead devil, give it your best shot, help me grow". "I'm growing and God is working". Amen? Try that with me: "I'm growing. And God is working". The only time we grow spiritually is when we do what's right while it feels wrong. That's worth a write down. I'll say it again. The only time we're growing spiritually is when we do what's right when it feels wrong. If it's easy to do, it's because we've already grown in that area, see? So, now, I'm 45 years into my walk with God. So, a lot of doing the right thing is relatively easy for me now. It's not hard for me to forgive people, I just like that. Because I know, that I know, that I know, that I know, that one of the things I cannot do, if I'm gonna do what God has called me to do, one of the things I cannot do, absolutely cannot do, is have any kind of unforgiveness in my heart.
So, if you want the blessings of God to be poured out in your life, you must not have unforgiveness in your heart. You get before God. If you have to, you get down on the floor, you stretch yourself out, and you say, "I am not leaving this room, God, until you give me the grace to forgive". Now, forgiveness is not a feeling. It's a decision that you make, about how you're gonna treat somebody who has hurt or offended you. It's not a feeling. You don't even have to like somebody to love 'em. Some people I have to love at a distance. Amen? But, we have to love 'em. God says, "Love your enemies". And I mean, it's described really well in the Amplified Bible: those who misuse you, abuse you, treat you shamefully, you forgive them, and you bless them.
Well, I told God, "I don't want 'em to be blessed". I mean, let's get real here, I don't want them to be blessed. But then God showed me something. When we pray for God to bless somebody that's hurt us, that doesn't mean they're gonna get a new car and a new house. The first thing God probably will bless them with, is some revelation about their behavior. And then the other thing we must do, and to me, these are the one, two, three simple things about love. You forgive no matter how you feel. You bless people. You pray for them. And it's very hard to pray for somebody on a regular basis, and still stay mad at 'em. Here comes the hard part, if they need help... Oh, it makes the devil so mad when you do that. I mean, I bet he needs a lot of some kind of nerve medicine or something on those days. The most powerful kind of spiritual warfare you can do, is to be good to your enemies. Well, I'm glad somebody said something.
Alright, Jesus was Son of Man and Son of God, fully man, fully God. He was a man born of a woman, but God was his father. So, he was a flesh and blood man, full of God. Well, guess what? So are we! So, when we see Jesus do things that are hard, like when people would accuse him of things, and he would just stand there not even try to defend himself. Man, we think, "That would be hard for me". I would be in your face telling you, "If you think you are gonna treat me that way, you have got another thing coming". And then we excuse that by saying, "Well, that's Jesus, of course he can do that". But see, we can too. Because actually, in reality, the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us, and it will quicken our mortal bodies. But, you have to believe it, before you will receive it.
Ok, let's get back to your weakness and my weakness. So, you're impatient and you keep saying, "Oh, I'm just so impatient". And this is good for me, because that's probably still my greatest weakness. I'm not impatient with God. I can wait on God, I get all that. I know his timing's right. But, man, if somebody's late for an appointment, or last week, we were going to a conference in Phoenix, and we had an ice storm in st Louis. And the pilot called and said, "We got a little problem. They can't get the hangar door open because when they opened it, it got off the track. And so, we can't get the plane out of the hangar". Well, I want you to know that I had a plan for when I got to Phoenix. And here was my plan: I was gonna eat at this certain restaurant that I like... And then there was a little nice woman's dress shop right across the mall there, and I was gonna go shop. And then, I was gonna go take a little nap. And then I was gonna get up and get prepared, some more, I go prepared, but, for my message that night.
Well, that little plane thingy messed up my plan. Now, that's when I'm supposed to be patient. Well, you've never had any fun until you're a preacher, and your family preaches your messages back to you. So, while we're waiting in the airport, for the people that are gonna fix the hangar door, to get there, Dave says to me, "Well, you know, our times are in his hands". And then somebody else said, "This too will pass". And I'm like, and then somebody else said, "All things work together for good to those who love God". And I said, "Shut up". Right now, I just wanna be upset. But here is the good news, there is a little bit of good news. Probably the whole thing lasted maybe 7 to 10 minutes. And then I had a chat with myself, got over it, and got ok, and waited peacefully.
Now, years ago that 10 minutes would've been until I got on the plane, and got where I wanted to go, and everything worked out the way I wanted it to work out. So, I still have an issue with that. And I've noticed lately that I've said, "You know, I'm impatient, that's my greatest weakness". Well, what I need to do is believe that I'm patient, while I'm still being impatient. Now, I know this is gonna sound nuts, but just listen. Believe, because I am patient. See, there's two of us. Each one of us lives with a crazy person. We have a born again spirit that wants to do the right thing. And then we've got this crazy flesh, that we have to keep dying to. Colossians in the Amplified Bible says, "Kill it". You say, "Well, how do you do that"? You don't feed it. You can kill anything by just not feeding it. Well, we feed the flesh when we give into it. When we let it have its little fit, and go ahead and walk in the spirit, a little bit of it dies. You with me? Ok.
When I was trying to learn how to be a submissive wife, which was no easy thing, I'd been abused by men all my life, and I had told myself, "No man is ever going to tell me what to do". Well, you better hold that. And then I got in the Bible and found out that a woman is to adapt! Adapt? I didn't even know that word. Adapt to her husband, adore him, and respect him, and submit. I'm like... And I'm gonna tell you the truth, when I found out about this not feeding the flesh thing, if I wanted it to die. Do you know that you can have real pain in your flesh? I mean, it's not like a physical pain, but it's a... Well, maybe it is? You know, but it's just like, you just like, "God". And it felt to me like God was always working on me, and always showing me what was wrong with me. And I didn't feel like he was ever doing anything with Dave. Anybody got it? "Why is it always me"? "It's always me. I'm always the one that's wrong. I'm always the one that has to apologize, it's always me".
And so, God was dealing with me so hard about something one time. It had to do with something with Dave, I don't know, being nicer to him, or being sweeter or something, I don't remember. And you know, I thought, "He's got a few places that he could come up a little higher in, too". And so, I actually said to him, "Is God dealing with you about anything"? And he looked at me and he thought for a minute, and he said, "No, I don't think so". I thought, and then, you know, we say things like, "God, this is killing me". And that's exactly what it's doing. It's killing your flesh. And while that's happening, you're supposed to be feeding your spirit with the Word of God. C'mon, 'cause whatever you feed the most is going to get the strongest.