Joyce Meyer - The Decision Is Yours - Part 3
Well, thank you for joining me today on "Enjoying Everyday Life". You know, the last couple of days we've been talking about the importance of decisions, and we're gonna conclude the week's teaching with a little bit more of that, only going in just a little different direction. I want to talk to you today about the challenge of doing the right thing. The Bible tells us that we're to "Be doers of the word". You know, it's not hard to sit and listen to it. Maybe you're sittin' at your desk at work or maybe you're sittin' on your couch or drivin' in your car and it's not hard to listen. It's not hard even to agree. But the key is, is we're supposed to go home and do what we heard. James said that, "Faith without works is dead". We're not saved by our works, but true faith. Anyone who is truly been saved is going to want to do good works. They're going to want to be obedient to God.
James 1:22, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourself". So, the Amplified Bible says, "By reasoning which is contrary to the truth". It's interesting that when somebody else isn't obeying, there's no reason for them not to obey. But when we don't obey, we've always made some kind of an excuse for ourself. And so, I want you to really think today, and then you're going to have the whole weekend you can think about this, how much of what you know are you actually doing? And how often do you say, "Well, I know I should do this, but", "I know I shouldn't do this, but". You know, good intentions are not obedience. And good intentions don't bring any reward into our life. It's only obedience that does.
James chapter one is just full of instructions. It starts out by talking about being patient when you're going through all kinds of trials, knowing that the trying of your faith will work good things. It talks about persevering. It talks about if you don't know what to do to ask for wisdom. And then further in the book of James, in James chapter 4, it says, "To know what is good to do and not to do it is sin". So, you know God actually deals a little differently with people who are ignorant, they don't know that what they're doing is wrong, than he does people who know what they're doing is wrong and do it anyway. The apostle Paul was a man who was persecuting Christians and hunting them down to be arrested. But after his experience with God on the Damascus road where Jesus came to him and said, "Why are you persecuting me"? And he ended up being saved and becoming a great apostle. At one point he said, "I received grace from God. He had mercy on me because I was ignorant".
Paul was a very strong religious man and he really, truly believed that these Christians were off-base and that he was serving God by hunting them down. So, he was being disobedient, but he really didn't know it. But that's a different thing than knowing that what you're doing is wrong and doing it anyway. If we have any kind of reverential fear and awe of God, we won't do that. And that's exactly what we're doing, when we say, "Well, I know I shouldn't do this, but..." "I know I shouldn't buy this, but..." "I know I should get out of debt, but..." "I know I should tell the truth in this situation, but..." And we can go on and on and on and on, and we all do that from time to time. And really, if we listen to ourself, we're giving ourselves a good warning, "I'm about to make a wrong decision and I need to make the right decision". Because the right decision brings a reward, the wrong decision just causes more pain and agony in our lives.
Matthew 7:21 says, "No one says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my father who is in heaven". So, we can say, "We know Jesus". We can say, "Lord, Lord, didn't I do this? Didn't I do that"? But he says, it's only those who have done the will of my father in heaven that are gonna be rewarded. I wrote this, "The size of the gap between knowledge and doing is what determines our measure of victory". Now, Luke 6:46-49, "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and then not do what I say"?
See, I heard somebody recently say, "There's two words if you're a Christian, there's two words that you can never put together and those two words are 'no, Lord'", because if he is the Lord of our life, the only thing we can ever say to him when he asks us to do something is, "Yes, Lord. Yes, Lord". "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They're like a man building a house, who dug down very deep and laid his foundation on rock. And when a flood came, and the torrent struck that house but it could not shake it, because it was well built". It was built on the rock. That's what it's like if you're being obedient, the storms of life cannot defeat you. "But the one who hears my word and does not put them into practice", and there's a lot of those. We have to ask ourselves where we're at in this.
Do we just pick and choose and obey the ones that are easy and ignore the ones that aren't? Obedience is a very important subject and it's something that we need to hear a lot of on a really regular basis. Because let me say again, hearing: we can hear the word, we can listen to teaching programs, we can listen to podcasts, we can read our Bible, we can underline in our Bible, but until we do what it says, we're no better than somebody who doesn't believe at all. "But one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation", you know, nobody gets too excited about foundations, but they're really the most important part of the house. Dave and I have had the pleasure of being able to have a couple of houses built, and you know, I don't remember ever taking somebody out to see my foundation.
Now, as the house went up and things were looking pretty, then I would say, "You wanna come see my house"? But, the house is not going to stand if it's not built on a strong foundation. So, make sure that you have a strong foundation that you know what your faith is built on and that you are in obedience to God. Let me ask you a question, it's a little bit of a challenging one, but one that I think needs to be asked. How many things are you doing that you know you should not be doing? Like I said, you got the weekend to think about this. How many things do you know you should be doing that you're not doing? Well, why do we put it off? Procrastination.
"I know I should do that. I'll get around to it". "I know I need to lose some weight". "I know I need to get out of debt". "I know I need to exercise". "I know that I need to give in to the Kingdom of God on a regular basis, but maybe after I get my next raise". No, now is the time to obey God. "But the man who hears my word and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation at all. And the moment the storm came, it collapsed, and the destruction was complete". The attacks of Satan come. And sometimes we say, "Why is it that every time I want to do good, something bad happens"? Well, the enemy wants to see if you mean business. And God will also let our faith be tested, because it's in our faith being tested that it grows stronger and stronger. For many people watching right now, the only thing that stands between you and great victory in your life is doing what you know to do. Are you a doer of the word?
Now, I know, you know, maybe you're tempted to turn the program off right now because you've already thought of five or six things that you know you should be doing that you're not doing. Well, I'm not trying to make anybody feel bad, but I'm trying to help you, to encourage you, to get busy doing those things that you know God has told you to do. Because everything that God tells us to do is for our good. Get a hold of that. It'll help you be an obedient believer, if you get that every single thing that God tells you to do or not to do, he's telling you for your benefit. Jesus taught his disciples in John chapter 13, to wash feet, and what he meant by that was to be a servant, to serve people, to do unpleasant tasks, or maybe things that you would need to humble yourself in order to do them. And he did it by example. He got a pan of water and put on a servant's towel and bent down and washed the disciples feet.
In verses 1-16 he talks about all this. And then in John 13:17 he says, "If you know these things, blessed and happy and to be envied are you if you practice them [if you act accordingly and really do them]". So, would you like to increase your happiness? Well, maybe you need to search your heart and see if there's some things or a thing that God has asked you to do or not to do and you're putting it off. I know, you know, you've got a good heart. You intend to do it. But once again, good intentions does not bring a reward in our life. Romans 2:13, "For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law", and he's not talking about the Old Testament law, he's talking about really just obeying God. "Those are the ones that will be declared righteous".
Just comin' to church and hearing the word is not enough. We need to go home and do it. Go home and do it. And even after you listen to this program, you know, just listening to Joyce's program every day, that's good, but it's not going to bring any reward in your life if you don't make the changes that you need to make because the decision is yours and do what you know that you need to do. You know, knowledge alone can be deceitful. And Paul talks about this a lot in 1 Corinthians chapter 8. He says, "If anyone imagines that he has come to know and understand much [of divine things, without love], he does not yet perceive and recognize and understand as strongly and clearly, nor has he become as intimately acquainted with anything as he ought or as is necessary". So, he's saying, you know, "You can have your whole Bible underlined in red", I don't know if you underline in your Bible, but I do mine.
When I read something that really touches me deeply or that I think is really important, I'll underline it. But I can have my whole Bible underlined, and if I don't do what it tells me to do, then it's not gonna do me any good. Matter of fact, it's actually worse to know what to do and not do it, than if you don't know what to do. So, you have to understand that listening to the word and hearing the word comes with a responsibility, because now you're learning things that you need to put into practice in your life. Pride can blind us from realizing that the real power is in doing, not just in knowing. And sometimes when we get a lot of knowledge, it can bring pride into our life. And that pride can then blind you and make you think that, boy, you're really such a great person because you know all this stuff.
And knowledge sometimes can become a hindrance instead of a help. You can know so much that it's not good for you. You can know so much that it hinders you from living simply, from having simple, childlike faith. Or from simply just being obedient to God without a hundred different questions about why, why, why, why, why? Simple prayer is beautiful. Just plainly and simply ask God in Jesus' name for what you want or need and then trust that he'll give it to you. The Bible says, "The world, with all of its knowledge, failed to perceive him, but he makes himself known through the foolishness of preaching". I love that. You know, I don't consider myself to be the most brilliant person on the planet. There's a lot of people that have a lot more education than I do, and I think that's great.
You know, get all the education that you can, but make sure that it doesn't make you feel that you're better than everybody else or that you know more maybe than what you know. You know, you can know a lot of the wrong things. I mean, there are, somebody was just tellin' me other day about their son who just loved God and really believed the word and then after they were in college for a couple of years, they were questioning everything. So, see what they were being told there was fighting against the simple truth of God's word, and they had a decision to make. Let me encourage you today: always, always, always put God first and always put the Word of God first. Anything that does not agree with the Word of God is some kind of deception that Satan's trying to bring into your life.
You know, Satan tried to tempt and deceive eve with knowledge, that's really what the whole thing was about in Genesis chapter 3. "Now, the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And Satan said to the woman", yes, the devil put thoughts in your head, and he'll try to talk to you. "'Can it really be that God has said, "You shall not eat from every tree of the garden?"'" You see, there were two trees in that garden, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Not just the tree of good and evil, but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You see, God never even wanted Adam and Eve to know what evil was, he just wanted everything to be good for them.
"And the woman said to the serpent, 'we may eat from the fruit of the trees in the garden, except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden'", which was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. "'God has said, "You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die".' But the serpent said to the woman", here comes another lie, "'oh, surely you will not die'", now, listen to this, "'for God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between evil and good, blessing and calamity'". So, how did he tempt her? "God knows something you don't know. And if you eat from this, then you'll know what God knows". So, this whole mess with sin that we deal with every day of our life, thank God, Jesus came, brought us redemption. It all started because she wanted to know something that God didn't want her to know. He wanted her to just trust him.
Can I tell you today, remind you of what I've been saying throughout the week? There are things that happen in our life that we do not understand. We are not going to understand. They are things that hurt. They are painful. We don't get it. It seems unfair. But if we will trust God, even in those things and keep a good attitude, God will deliver us and he will bring a reward into our lives. But you have to decide, in the midst of your pain, how you're gonna handle the situation. You know, when everything is good, it's easy to decide to do the right thing. But when things are challenging, that's when it really shows what we're made out of and where we're at in our walk with God.
In 1 Corinthians 1:19-21, Paul says, "For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise: the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate'". Well, I'll tell you, there's a lot of frustrated people in the world today. "Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the Philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe".
Well, you know what? If you look at the ways of the world and you follow them, they're not working. People are more and more unhappy than ever before. They're more and more greedy, more and more selfish. There's more anger, more bitterness, more unforgiveness, more hatred. There's more murders and more suicides. There's more of everything that's against the Word of God. And really, we're at the point, now that the Bible says that we would come to where "Evil is being called good and good is being called evil". And the sad thing is, is people can have a lot of regular education, which I said, that's great, but if you are not educated in the Word of God, you're not gonna be able to tell the difference between what's really right and what the world is telling you that's right.
So, I recommend today that you look at your life and say, "Is what I'm doing working? Am I happy? Am I peaceful? Am I succeeding in life? Am I walking in love or am I just selfish and self-centered"? Sometimes we just need to look at the results of what we're doing, and those results will tell us if we're doing the right thing or the wrong thing. We must be instructed in God's word. How can we do anything if we have no knowledge? But the real challenge is in doing what we have heard.
Now, let me read you scripture that really has meant a lot to me, and I think it's a big answer. What is it that keeps people from doing the right thing? What is it that keeps somebody who loves a God who could actually say, "I want God's will". And I believe that that's many of you. And let me just say, if you have not received Christ as your Savior and you're ready to surrender your life to him, there will be a phone number on your screen and you call that and say, "I want to know Jesus. I want to know more about salvation". And someone will be on that phone to answer your questions and lead you into a relationship with Jesus. We love you and we want you to have a great life. We want you to know what God wants you to know. But in 1 Peter 4:1 and 2, the Bible says, "So, since Christ suffered in the flesh for us, and for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose [patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God]", so, that's so good, he's saying like, okay, like "The right kind of thinking I would rather suffer than fail to please God".
That's like your armor against the temptations the enemy is gonna bring. "For whoever has suffered in the flesh [having the mind of Christ]", you know, you can suffer with the mind of the flesh and just do the wrong thing, but if you suffer with the mind of Christ, you think things like, "Well, this hurts, but I know God's gonna work something good out of this". "This hurts and I don't understand it, but God is good and he's with me and he's going to bring me through this and I'm going to have a victory. And while I'm waiting for that victory, I want to still be obedient to God and do everything just the way he wants me to do it". If he "Is done with [intentional] sin", that's knowing what to do, but not doing it, and he "[has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and now pleases God], so that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living by [his] human appetites and desires, but [he now lives] for what God wills".
Pain is the reason why people don't do the word. Let's just talk about, you know, God likes to be involved in everything that we do, and he wants us to be generous givers, not only in the Kingdom of God, but just giving to one another. Well, let's just say that you have a favorite piece of Jewelry, or maybe you've got two cars and there's somebody that you know that doesn't have any car. Maybe God puts it on your heart to give them one of your cars. Well, ouch, ouch.
"Man, I don't want to give that car away. I paid for that. It's my favorite color. I like that". Well, you know, there is a way that you can relieve your pain. You can simply disobey God. And if you disobey then your flesh will stop hurting, but you'll miss the reward of God that he has in mind for you if you're obedient to him. Let me tell you somethin', there are things that God has asked me to do that were so hard for me to do. But man, after doing them, I have seen such blessing come into my life: things, joy, peace, things that I wanted that there was no way I could have gotten them for myself that God has provided. God is never trying to take anything away from you. He's only ever trying to add to your life.
So, let me just say again in closing today that, know the word and do the word. And when it's hard, ask the Holy Spirit to help you. You have a holy helper living on the inside of you. Have the mind of Christ toward the difficult things that you're going through and do the right thing. We love you. Thank you for being with us this week and we will see you again next time.