Joyce Meyer - The Decision Is Yours - Part 1
Well, thank you for joining us today on "Enjoying Everyday Life," where I have the great privilege of teaching the Word of God. You know, the Word of God has changed my life because it's taught me what to do and what not to do. And I believe if you sincerely open your heart and really take it as the truth, begin to apply it in your life, that it can also change your life for the better. I want to talk to you today about decisions. The Bible says, God says, "I put before you life and death, good and evil: choose life". He wants us to have a good life, but he's not gonna force us to do what we need to do to have that good life. He tells us what to do and then gives us the privilege and the responsibility of making those decisions.
And so, we're gonna use Daniel's life as an example today in a lot of what I share with you. First of all, the decisions that you and I make are very, very, very important because the decisions we make today will affect tomorrow and the day after that, and perhaps even the week after that and the month after that and even the year after that. Decisions are very important, and we need to make them wisely. And some decisions that we make can affect our whole entire life. And so, we need to use wisdom in making decisions. Now, Daniel was a man of God, loved God, was committed to God, and he found himself in a place and in circumstances that he did not choose. You ever find yourself somewhere where you didn't choose it? You don't want to be there? You know, even though we don't always end up where we would choose to be, we still have the right and the responsibility of making choices when we find ourselves in that place that we don't want to be in.
I really want you to get this because the decisions that we make in hard places, difficult places are some of the most important decisions that we make. What kind of attitude am I gonna have when I'm in a difficult place? How am I gonna think about my life when I'm in this difficult place? Am I gonna let it make me negative and sour and think, "Well my life's over and I'm never gonna have a good future"? Or am I gonna say, "God is in control and he can take this, and he can work good out of it"? How am I gonna talk when I'm in this place that I wasn't expecting to be in, find myself in and it's not a comfortable place? Those are the important decisions.
Now, king Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem and he took many of the young men into captivity. And Daniel was one of those young men that he took. "Young men without physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning. Young men that were well-informed, quick to understand and qualified to serve in the king's palace. He was to teach them the language and the literature of the Babylonians. And the king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. And they were to be trained for three years, and after that, brought into the king's service. Among those who were chosen were from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah". These three men that I named after Daniel were friends of Daniel's. "The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name was given Belteshazzar: to Hananiah, Shadrach: to Mishael, Meshach: and to Azariah, Abednego. But Daniel resolved", he made a decision, "Not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way".
Daniel, you see, had made a vow to God not to eat anything but vegetables. I don't know for how long it was, but he had made that decision. It was a type of fast that he was trying to honor God with. And Daniel was in a difficult place. He was being told to do something that would cause him to break his word to God. If he didn't do what he was told, he could have gotten in great trouble, it could have caused him, possibly, even death. But Daniel determined, he made a decision, that even in that difficult place, he would still serve God. Now, maybe you're in a difficult place right now. I'm sure that many of you watching today are in a difficult place and maybe in a place that you didn't expect to be in. Maybe there's something goin' in your life that you didn't expect at all and it was one of those sudden things that come that we just don't expect.
Well, the decisions that you make during that time are very important. And deciding to stick with God and continue to serve God the same way as you would if your circumstances were good, now, please hear that, how would you handle your relationship with God if your circumstances were good? Would you get up every morning and thank him and praise him for all the good things going on in your life? Would you study your Bible and be more generous to people? Well, the good things that you would do when you're in good times are the same things that you should do if you're in a hard time. So, if you're in a difficult time right now and you find yourself kind of withdrawing: you're not going to church like you used to, you're not praying like you used to, you've kinda got a little chip on your shoulder or you're just a little bit angry, you don't understand. Why don't you use this as a time to make a decision like Daniel did?
"I am going to keep my commitments to God no matter what it costs me or what kind of situation that I'm in". Daniel determined that he would still serve God even in that difficult place. You know, life happens. We don't have control of everything. In any situation, we can pray, and God can turn it around. But there are things that happen to all of us, yes, I said, "All of us," that we were not expecting and that we don't like. And as I say, "The weather is not always in the forecast". And if you live where we do, the weather very often is forecasted to be one thing and it turns out to be somethin' totally different. We plan and our plans get interrupted. The boss calls you in and you think you're gonna get a promotion because that's what you've been praying for. But instead, they tell you they're not gonna be able to use you anymore. And you've been working there 15 years, and now, all of a sudden, they don't need you.
Well, that was the last thing that you were expecting. You know, Esther was a young girl who, I'm sure had a plan for her life. It was like she was, I think, out of her teenage years now and probably just getting ready to start life. And the Bible doesn't tell us what she had planned, but we can use our holy imagination and just imagine that she was a young girl that was just kinda gettin' started and she had plans for her life. But, through her uncle, God asked her to do something that she had not planned, because the king, through a wicked man, was going to be tempted to kill all of the Jewish people. Well, Esther was a Jewess and her uncle wanted her to get in a position where she could go before the king and plead for her people. Well, she found herself in a position where the Bible says she was called "For such a time as this".
In other words, it wasn't her time, but it was God's time. She was surprised. It was a situation she did not expect to find herself in. But she ended up, because she was obedient, and because even in that place that she wasn't expecting to be in she continued to serve God. And Esther is a fairly short chapter in the Bible, you can read the story, and I'm sure it will be very encouraging to you, it turned out really good. Through her obedience, she saved an entire nation. You see, many times we think that what we do doesn't matter, but it matters a great deal. "Man's mind plans his way, but God directs his steps". And, you know, sometimes we like that 'cause what we had planned isn't nearly as good as what God does. But then sometimes we're so entrenched in our plan, that when God does something different, initially we don't like it. But we need to trust God that our life is in his hands, and his timing, and his plan is always perfect, and what God plans is always much better than what we had planned.
Proverbs 20:24 says, "A person's steps are directed by the Lord, how then can a man or anyone understand their own way"? Boy, we're always like, "Well God, I don't understand this. I don't understand that. I thought this was gonna happen, but that happened". Well, he says, "How can a man be expected to understand his way, when God is directing his steps". Proverbs 3:5-8 talks about not trying to figure things out, to stay away from reasoning. And boy, I tell you, this was a big problem for me for a long, long, long, long time. I just couldn't seem to settle down and feel comfortable, until I thought, until I thought that I had everything all figured out and put neatly in a little box so I always knew what was going to happen. But you know, a lot of times, even if we think we have it figured out, we find out eventually that we were wrong after all. But I'll say again, what God has planned for us is so much better than what we plan for ourselves.
"Do not be wise in your own eyes". And I love that because what I say about that is it really means don't even think you're smart enough to run your own life because you're really not. You know, sometimes we just think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. "Fear the Lord and shun evil". Now, listen this, "This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones". So, my goodness, he's saying, "If you'll stop reasoning and trust God instead, stop worrying and trust God instead: it's gonna help your health, it's gonna help your nerves, it's even gonna help your bones". You know, a lot of times we have sickness in our life, or we have pain somewhere and you really should learn to, in addition to doing whatever you need to do medically, to ask God, "Is there something I need to see"? Because many times there's something that we're doing or a way that we're looking at something that's causing a lot of stress in our life that is then causing that physical problem that we're having.
And I'll tell you one thing that reasoning does is it causes so much confusion. I remember in a conference I was having one time, one of my opening statements was, "How many of you here in the building are confused about what's going on in your life"? And I always say that I only saw my husband and one other person that did not put up their hand. And so, I went to the Lord in prayer later that evening and I said, "Why are so many people confused"? And he said, "Tell 'em if they'll stop trying to figure everything out, they won't be confused". And you'll be amazed if you just trust God, trade all that reasoning for trust, and you'll calm down. Your nerves will be better. Your health will be better. You'll sleep better at night. You'll enjoy your life so much more.
You know, there are things that happen that we don't understand. And one of the most foolish things that we can do is constantly be trying to figure out what God is doing. Because "His ways are above our ways. His thoughts are above our thoughts". You know, people die, and it was unexpected. We think they're too young to die. That shouldn't have turned out that way. Our plans fail. We had something planned, we worked hard at it, we thought for sure it was right, but our plans fail. It rains on our picnic. We had an outdoor thing planned. And my granddaughter's having an outdoor wedding here in a few months and of course, you know, we're praying the weather will be good. A storm rips the roof off of our house. Wow, we sure weren't expecting that. We have a good friend that betrays us or we found out they were gossiping about us and man, does that ever hurt. We lose a job. Prices get higher and higher, and it makes our budget tighter and tighter. Life happens. And there's just nothing we can do about it, but trust God. And that is the best thing to do with it.
And if you trust God, God will, "If you acknowledge him, in all your ways, he will direct your path". Even in difficult situations, God will show us what to do if we put our hope and our trust in him. Keep acknowledging God and he will direct you. And I want to encourage you to verbalize that trust. Every time you start to worry, which believe me, the enemy, the devil will try his very best to get you to worry, "Well, what about this? Well, what about that? Well, what are you gonna do if this and what are you gonna do if that"? You can't worry about all the ifs, and the buts, and the what ifs. What you need to do is open your mouth and say, "I trust God". It's better even to say it than it is just to think it. Because when you say it, you also hear it back again yourself. "I trust God. I'm not gonna waste my time trying to figure this out. I trust God".
Now, you know, I just have a sensing that there are so many people watching right now and you desperately need to stop trying to figure everything out. Because there are things that God knows that he is not gonna tell us. He may tell us later. He may never tell us. But one of the things that we say is we live life forward, but we understand it backward. There's so many things that when that were going on in my life, I just did not understand them. And I'm sure that many of you have things going on right now that you just do not understand. But five years from now, a year from now, maybe ten years from now, you look back and you say, "Wow, I didn't understand that then, but now, I see how it fits into my life".
I look back now and even some of the people that I was involved with when I first got into ministry, they ended up hurting me really bad and I was just emotionally devastated by that. But I look back now, and I realize that if God would not have removed them from my life forcibly, I would have tried to take them along with me on my journey and they weren't right for where God was taking me. We really need to trust God in good times and in difficult times. Now, if we go back to Daniel. Remember, Daniel made a commitment to serve God even though he didn't know how it was gonna be taken. But when he asked the steward who was over him for his training if he and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could be allowed to eat vegetables instead of all this rich and dainty food, the steward was concerned that they would look sickly and that he would then get in trouble. But Daniel said, "If you just give us ten days, even after ten days, we are gonna look better than everybody else".
Well, you know what? God gave him favor. Now, favor is a beautiful thing because God can turn the heart of anybody, like he changes the watercourses. And if you're bold enough to go to someone and say, "I want to do what's right, this is what I've committed to God. I can't do this other thing that you're asking me to do". Many times, we think it's gonna cause great trouble for us, but God will give us favor and we will just be amazed. So, in Daniel 1:16 and 17, it says, "So the guard took away their choice food and the wine that they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead". I'm sure they also had water to drink. "To these poor young men God gave", now, watch this, right away there's comin' a reward, "To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds".
Well, right away we see that God is blessing them, giving them understanding. Actually, one of the translations says, "He had understanding in knotty problems". K-N-O-T-T-Y. And I tell you, that's a valuable thing to have. To have understanding from God about what you need to do in a situation or what's going on in a situation. And making right choices, putting God first in your life, is one of the ways to get that. Verse 20: "In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better", just what Daniel had said, "Ten times better than all the magicians and the enchanters in his whole kingdom".
Now, you know magicians and wizards and enchanters and things like that were very popular in those days. The kings went to people like that to get their advice, but Daniel always had the right answer. The answer that was better than the answer that they were giving. Keep your commitments to God and you will be rewarded. Hebrews 11:6 says, "In order to please God, we must believe that he is and that he is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him". It's very interesting to look up the word reward in the Bible, because these choices that you make in hard times, you will be rewarded for the difficult things you go through if you stay steadfast with God. When we're in difficult times and we continue to do the right thing, we gain understanding of what people go through.
You know, sometimes somebody's going through a hard time and we don't have a clue what they're going through. But, you know, I've been through things in my life and I understand what it's like to be hurt. I understand what it's like to be told, you get a bad report from the doctor when you were expecting a good one. And you can only understand things if you have had experience in that area. Another thing that happens when you go through a hard time is you realize that the life you had before was better than you thought it was. Sometimes we're complaining about the life we have, and we don't like this and we don't like that, and we're not this and that.
You know, it's so easy for a human being to become dissatisfied with what they have. The flesh is full of greed, and it always wants more, more, more, more, more. But when you're going through a rough time, many times you say, "Boy, you know what? My life before this problem was pretty good. I'd trade this, go back to that in a split second". So, it makes us thankful. We gain compassion for what other people are going through. And it brings a depth of spirituality, a depth of spiritual maturity in our life that's hard to get anywhere else. Matthew 10:27, these scriptures are so important, so I want you to get this. "What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight: what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the rooftops".
Do you know that's what I'm doin' today? I'm telling you things here in the light that I learned in the dark times of my life. I learned how wrong I was to be in my own reasoning all the time. And I found how it changes your life to trust God. So, when I tell you these things, I'm not just talkin' to be talkin'. I've gone through these things. And when you've gone through things, it makes your testimony to other people so much stronger and more powerful. Isaiah 45:2 and 3 says, "I will go before you and level the mountains [to make the crooked places straight]: I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut asunder the bars of iron", now, listen to this, "And I will give you the treasures of darkness, the hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that it is i, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name".
What are the treasures of darkness? This darkness refers to the troubled, difficult times in our life, which we all have. If you're going through a hard time right now, I can tell you you're not alone. We all go through them at different times, and we all get surprised by them. We weren't expecting them. But God says in those dark times, there's treasures in there, if you will handle them right. If, if, if, big word, if you will handle them right. And handling them right means that: you stick with God, you keep your commitments with him, you stay in the word, you continue to treat other people good. We have to be very careful when we're in difficult times that we don't start feeling so sorry for ourselves that all we think about is me, me, me, me, me.
We stop giving. We stop serving. I'm encouraging you today, if you're in a dark place in your life, to realize that there are treasures that you're gonna come out of it with, you're gonna know things you didn't know before, and you're gonna be able to help people that you could not have helped if you would not have gone through that dark time. Now, tomorrow, we are gonna continue this. But in the meantime, I want you to remember that it's very important the decisions that you make. Thank you for being with us today and join us tomorrow when I continue this teaching.