Joyce Meyer - The Decision Is Yours - Part 2
Well, thank you for joining us today on "Enjoying Everyday Life," where I teach the Word of God. And I believe that your life and mine is changed by the word because there's power in it. Jesus is the word made flesh who came to dwell among us, and the Word of God instructs us in how to live our lives and if we obey it and follow it, we will have a very good life. Not necessarily a trouble-free life, but Jesus said he'd, "Never leave us or forsake us". So even in the midst of our problems, he's still right there to help us.
Now, yesterday I started a teaching that I'm continuing on with today called "The decision is yours" and talked about how important decisions are. That there are times in our lives when things happen that we don't want to happen. We wish they wouldn't have happened. They don't feel good. They're hard things. And the decisions that we make during those times are probably some of the most important decisions that we make. And we're looking at Daniel, a man that we read about in the Bible, who made right choices in circumstances that were very hard and how it benefited him, and God actually promoted him to a very high place of leadership. The decisions that you make, and I make today, effect tomorrow and some decisions can even effect your whole life.
Now, I ended yesterday when I was talking about what the Bible says about dark places. And dark places really equate to hard times. They're times when we don't understand what's going on: we don't see the way out, we don't understand what it's all about. But the Bible says that, "What I tell you", Matthew 10:27, "What I tell you in the dark, you speak in the daylight". And that's really what I'm doing. The things that I've learned and the hard times in my life. And I've seen the faithfulness of God. I've seen the value of learning not to worry. I'm sharing those things with you, but I'm sharing out of my experience and so that makes it powerful when somebody is sharing with you out of their life, not just something they read about in a book.
And then Isaiah 45:2 and 3 talks about the "Treasures of darkness". So that's an interesting thought that even in these hard, dark places, there are treasures there to draw out. And I don't know of anybody who doesn't like a treasure. And then sometimes we wonder, "Well, why do good people have problems? If you're doing what's right, shouldn't you avoid those problems and be blessed all the time"? Well, Isaiah 50:10 says, "Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant"? So, you're not afraid of God, but you have a reverential fear and awe of God. You respect him. You believe his word. You believe what he says will come to pass. Well, I'm one of those kind of people, and I believe that many of you are. "And obeys the word of the servant".
So, sounds to me like somebody who's doing the right thing. They have a reverential fear of God, and they're walking in obedience to him, but yet they walk in darkness, and they have no light. "Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, and has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God". So, you can be a good person, you're doing everything just right, still a problem comes that you're not expecting. It can be something very painful to you. It can be the enemy working through another person that disappoints you or hurts you. It can be some kind of natural disaster that affects how you live. Like I said yesterday, a storm comes, the roof blows off your house. But in those times, we need to determine, like Daniel did, not to defile our self by not keeping our commitments to God. "Let that man rely on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord".
Now, the Bible talks about suffering for righteousness' sake. Well, nobody likes to talk about suffering, but it is a word that's used more than just a little bit in the Bible. And we're being foolish if we try to avoid things that we don't like to hear, because if we don't learn about them, then when we experience them, they're going to be much harder than if we would have paid attention. So, once again, back to Daniel. Daniel chapter, 3 verse 6, and then 14-18. Now, the king Nebuchadnezzar passed an edict or a law that "Whoever would not fall down and worship a golden image which he had made would be thrown into the blazing, fiery furnace".
And this golden image, remember, made out of gold, so, I guess he didn't have any money problems, was 90 feet high and nine feet wide. That is one big image. "And Nebuchadnezzar said to them, 'is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego'", remember the three friends of Daniel who were taken into the king's court along with him, not somewhere they wanted to be, but the king captured them and brought them into his court, was training them to serve him. And he said, "'now when you hear the sound of the horn, the flute, the zither, the lyre, the harp, the pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what God will be able to rescue you from my hands'? And Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him", and I love this, "'king Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you on this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God that we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from your majesty's hand. But'", this is so powerful, "'even if he does not, we want you to know, your majesty, that we will not serve your Gods or worship the image of gold that you have set up'".
Wow. I wanna clap and believe you're clapping at home. That is so powerful. He said, "Look, we believe God can deliver us. We're in his hands. But even if he doesn't, we're still not going to serve you". Well, you know, to be honest, the devil doesn't quite know what to do with somebody who is that committed to God. And let me tell you something, just to be honest, we don't all get delivered from everything we'd like to get delivered from while we're here on the earth. But whatever's left for you to be delivered from, the moment that you pass out of this realm into heaven, there's gonna be: no more pain, no more crying, no more tears, no more problems, no more dark places. And so, we trust God and Jesus said, "Whom will I find in faith when I return"? So, we stay in faith right up to the very end, believing that God is good, and he will give us breakthrough. "We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us".
So, they were put into the furnace for doing the right thing. This is what I want you to see, that not everybody who has trouble has trouble because they're doing the wrong thing. They were put into the fiery furnace for doing the right thing before God. Sometimes God will test our faith. And I'll tell you, when your faith is tested, if you pass the test, you actually grow in faith. Your faith gets stronger. They're put into the furnace. They decided not to bow down. They decided. They made a decision not to bow down. Well, of course, that made the king mad. And so, he heated up the furnace seven times hotter than what it would normally was heated up. "Then Nebuchadnezzar", Daniel 3:19, "Was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. And he ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual".
And I love this, they went in bound, and they came out loosed. Now, you're gonna see here in a minute what I mean by that. Many times, we have a problem, an addiction, an issue, a bad habit in our lives, something we've been trying to get free from, and we go into one of these dark places or the fiery furnace, something that troubles us. And when we get in those places, we tend to draw closer to God. We tend to dig deeper than we did before and press into a deeper relationship with God. We tend to cry out more to God than we did before. It's amazing how much time we can find for God when we have problems that we can't find, when things are good. And so, he said they were bound. The king tied them up with ropes. They were bound when they went into the furnace. But listen to what it says, Daniel 3:20-30, "And he commanded some of the strongest soldiers in the army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace".
Try to use your imagination and think about this. "The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who put Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the furnace. Then these men firmly tied", with these ropes, "Fell into the blazing furnace". Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell into the furnace. "Then king Nebuchadnezzar leaped up to his feet in amazement and asked his advisors, 'weren't there three men that we tied up put into the fire'? And they replied, 'certainly, your majesty, three men'. And he said, 'well, look, I see four men walking around in the fire unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the Gods'". Well, guess who was in that furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Jesus. And he always gets in our problems with us. We may not see him with our eyes like Nebuchadnezzar was allowed to see them in this situation. But he said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you".
And when you're having trouble, when you're in a dark place in your life, sometimes even all your friends will leave you, but Jesus will never leave you. And no matter what, you're going to right now, no matter how lonely you feel, I want you to say to yourself, "God is with me". He's not only with you, if you are born-again, if you've turned your life over to Christ, he is living in you. I was preaching last weekend and I had the people just take 30 seconds and close their eyes and just think over and over, "God is living in me. God is living in me". And I encourage you to do that when the program's over today. Sometimes we hear these things, and they just go over our head. But just a little bit of meditating on what the truth of the word says can really make a huge difference in our lives. So, they did what was right. They said, "No matter what you do to us, we're going to follow God". They got punished for it, were thrown into a furnace that was heated up seven times hotter than normal.
So hot it killed the men who threw them in there. And yet, when the king looked, there were four men in there, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had lost their bondages. "Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, 'Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! And come here'! So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, the prefects, the governors and the royal advisers crowded all around them. And they saw", I love this, "The fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed: their robes were not scorched, neither did they smell like smoke". I love that. There was no evidence of what they had been through. And, you know, I would imagine that most people looking at me today would not imagine the childhood that I had, unless you watch me all the time you've heard me tell it.
You wouldn't imagine that my first husband cheated on me over and over, and abandoned me, left me in another state, two different times, and I'm young, an 18-year-old girl. You wouldn't imagine that my own father sexually abused me for many, many, many years. You wouldn't imagine that I had breast cancer at one time. You know why? Because when you let God, solve your problems, you come out of them on the other side victorious and you don't even smell like smoke. And some of you are making a mistake. You think that you cannot overcome your past. You think that you're always going to have to have a second-rate life because you had a bad past. Or you made a lot of mistakes in the past or you had a lot of bad things happen to you in the past. But you turn all those things over to God, and I'll tell you, you can come out of it and not even smell like smoke. You can have such a great life that nobody would ever even possibly imagine what you went through in the past. But you get treasures out of those dark places, and they equip you to be able to help other people. I love, love, love, love, love this story.
Now, watch this. "Therefore, the king says", well, first of all, reading the rest of this, "Nebuchadnezzar said, 'praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego'". Well, that's pretty good. Now, we've got the idol worshiping king, praising the real God. "'who has sent his angel and rescued his servants. They trusted in him and defied the king's command and they were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any God except their own'". Wow, we need that kind of commitment again in our world. "'therefore, I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, I command that they be cut in pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble for no other God can save in this way'".
Now, listen. "Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego". You know, when you sit in darkness and you keep your trust in God, when you're in the midst of your problems and you keep your trust in God no matter how bad it gets, you keep saying, "God, I trust you. I believe you'll work this out for good". I'll tell you somethin', you stop worrying about what people think. You realize how petty that is to spend your life worrying about what people think. You've got something much bigger to deal with now. You quit worrying over petty things that really don't make that much difference compared to what you're going through. You learn things in times like that. We care what people think until we get a real problem that we have to deal with. They got promoted. The Bible says that it's right to suffer for righteousness' sake, but it says be sure you don't suffer for doing what's wrong.
1 Peter 2:19-21, "For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God". Now, wait, wait, wait, wait, you know, the first few times I read this 45 years ago, I thought, "I don't know that I like that. Why is it good if I suffer for doing the right thing"? "But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it now, this is commendable before God". Well, why would God like it for me to suffer? God doesn't like it when you suffer. What he likes is when you do the right thing while you're suffering: when you have the right attitude while you're suffering, while you still love him just as much or maybe even more than you did when times were good, he likes the right attitude while we suffer.
So, let me ask you, like I did yesterday, what are you going through right now and what is your attitude? Are you complaining and grumbling and maybe just a little bit mad at God because you think, "You could deliver me, and I don't understand why you're not"? Or are you saying, "God, I love you, I trust you. I believe that you'll work good out of this. Help me keep my attitude right and continue to serve you the same as I would if all of my circumstances were just absolutely great". Now, listen to this. "To this you were called", we're called to this, "Because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps".
Did we ever one time hear Jesus complain about what he went through? You think he wanted to go to the cross? No, he did not want to go to the cross. In Matthew's account of his time in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he was waiting for the soldiers to come and get him, three times, he went away and prayed, "God, if you can take this cup from me, nevertheless your will be done, not mine". He didn't want to go and suffer. Nobody chooses suffering. He didn't want to go and suffer on that cross and bear all of our sins. And oh, how awful that must have been for him. And he was beaten so badly, even before that. They stuck a crown of thorns on his head and blood was coming down his face. And all this he did while he was taking the sin of the world upon himself. He said, "I don't want to do this. Nobody wants that. But nevertheless, your will be done, not mine".
So, he didn't want to go through the hard thing, but he wanted God's will more than he wanted his own. And that's what I'm talking about here today. 1 Peter 4:19 says, "Therefore, those who are ill-treated and suffer in accordance with God's will must do right and commit their souls [in charge as a deposit] to the one who created [them] and will never fail [them]". If you ever use the drive-thru at the bank, you know you go through and you deposit a check. Well, you need to deposit yourself. Not at the bank, of course, but you need to deposit yourself with God. Keep doing what's right. With promotion comes attack. So, you go through a hard time, you do it right, you get promoted. Then comes more attack. Daniel 6:1-5, "It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss".
So, now, Daniel, he's reaching higher levels of promotion here. He's being put over. He has more authority than some of these other people. Well, they don't like it, but they know Daniel is so committed to God that they can never get him to do anything wrong unless they can find some way to get him to do it through something having to do with his God. They were jealous, so they came up with a plan. They went to the king. "Oh, king, you're so great. Pass a law that nobody can pray to anybody but you," for the next, I don't know how many days, for a long time. Well, they knew already that Daniel was not going to stop praying to his God. "At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, 'we will never find any basis for charges against the man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God'".
Well, Daniel had been brought to a new level of promotion, but I always say, "New level. New devil". Paul said, "A wide door of opportunity opened unto me, but with it many adversaries". You know, a lot of times we think, "Well, you know, I'd like to be the president of the company," or "I'd like to be the CEO," or "Boy, I wish I had a ministry like Joyce's," or "I wish I could be the worship leader". But, you know, a lot of times people are asking for things they don't have any idea what they're asking for. With every privilege comes a lot of responsibility, and a lot of accountability, and a lot of extra work. A decree was signed that nobody could pray to any God or man except king Darius, and if they did, they we're gonna be thrown into the lion's den and have to stay in there all night and obviously the outcome would be that the lions would eat them.
Daniel 6:10, it's decision time. Maybe you're at a place of decision right now. You need to make a decision. "Now, when Daniel learned that the decree had been published", listen to this, "He went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. And three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, giving thanks to God, just as he had done before". I love that. Maybe some of us would have said, "Well, I'm gonna go up there and pray, but I'm going to shut the windows". He didn't even shut the windows. He continued, just like before. I'm sure he was just as loud as he was before. And I don't know, maybe he even got a little bit louder. Well, guess what? He got thrown into the lion's den. But the next morning, he was perfectly all right.
And he said, "My God sent angels, and they protected me from the lions. They were not able to kill me because God's protection was upon me". And I'll tell you, in closing this segment today, when you do what is right, even in hard times, God will always come through for you. He will send angels to help you. You won't smell like smoke. There'll be no evidence that you ever went through a hard time. So, make a decision today, that even if you have to suffer while you're doing what's right, you're going to continue to do what's right because your first and foremost commitment is to God. Thank you and I hope you'll join us again tomorrow when we're gonna kinda go along the same lines, but go in just a little different direction.